Brief Club History

In the days when a woman wore a dress, hat and gloves, and had no first name in public (she was known as Mrs. William Smith), it was rare for her to graduate from university. As soon as she married she quit work to become a housewife. In 1957, sixteen college-educated housewives from 11 different universities raised their heads above the diaper pails to form the University Women’s Club of St. Lambert. When the Club received its charter in October 1957 from the parent organization, the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW), it boasted 50 members from universities across Canada, the USA and Europe.

Founding members were: Jessie Bishop, Mary Cyr, Maureen Fuller, Joyce Jones, Martha Laurier, Ruth Ann Lewis, Betty McLaren (the first President), Beth Mercer, Gerrie Symons, Eleanor Wallace and Joyce Waymann.

In 1960, to better identify the membership and location, the name was changed to the Montreal South Shore University Women’s Club, but locally it is known as the SSUWC.

Since its inception, the Club has been committed to pursuing knowledge, promoting education and improving the status of women and human rights – values that are actively supported to this day through involvement in the community, support of public education, initiatives regarding the environment and efforts to raise the social, economic and political status of women and girls.

Before guidance counsellors, the Club hosted a tea for graduating High School girls from the area to discuss career choices and to encourage pursuit of further education. The SSUWC actively worked for the implementation of French Immersion in St. Lambert in 1964. It prepared briefs on pension and education reforms, organized a conference on educational reforms (the White Paper), campaigned for the creation Champlain College, aided Vietnamese boat people, prepared briefs on the management of Canadian water and on the display of pornographic material. One of our feisty members may have even delivered the blue recycling box to your door when recycling was initiated in St. Lambert.

Current advocacy activities often involve joint efforts with our parent organization – the CFUW – or with our provincial affiliate – the Quebec Provincial Council of University Women’s.

Always a supporter of public education, the SSUWC awarded its first scholarship to Marina Myles in 1960. Bursaries are currently available to CEGEP graduates, a university student with learning challenges and mature students returning to university study. For good measure, several awards are also offered to local high school graduates and, since 2004, monies have also been sent to support a school for girls in Afghanistan.

The monthly meetings are open to the public and include an interesting speaker that either informs or entertains – or both. Various interest groups (Book Discussion, Art History, New Issues, Fun-With-Cooking, Bridge, Hiking and Out-to-Lunch) offer members continuing opportunities for learning, amusement and socializing.

Funding for our activities is provided by member’s fees and several small projects. Since 1974, our main fundraiser for scholarships is a Book Sale held in August in St. Lambert.

Patricia Couture
November 30, 2011