In 1932, two women who had been girlhood friends in Canada had the idea of starting a club to link up Canadian women throughout the British Isles. Their first meeting attracted seventy women. By year end, membership had risen to 340.
The CWC of the 1930’s provided a social life to suit the times. In an age of tea dances, and formal balls, the activities of the CWC were glittering affairs and were regularly featured in the society pages in both Britain and Canada. In those carefree pre-war years, no Canadian’s visit to London was complete without attending a CWC event.
World War II changed all that and changed the CWC from a primarily social club to a club with a humanitarian cause that exists to this day.
Initially, CWC members formed the backbone of the voluntary corps of the Canadian Red Cross where they helped both civilian victims of air raids and Allied servicemen in need of shelter. They kept records of casualties, wrote to relatives of the wounded and the deceased and distributed thousands of articles of clothing to hospitals, hostels and evacuees. Their dedication was acknowledged by several visits by King George and Queen Elizabeth during the course of the war.
Post-war, the charitable work continued concentrating on civilian relief particularly for the 18,000 Canadian veterans of the two world wars who were living in Britain.
To raise funds for what became to be known as the Veterans’ Support Committee, the CWC held the first of its famous Maple Leaf Balls in 1952 and for the first time combined social events with on-going support of its charitable causes.
In 1967 to celebrate Canada’s Centennial, a second charity was established – the Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund – which provided scholarships for outstanding Canadian students studying in the UK.
Today both the Veterans’ Support Committee and the Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund are still fulfilling their charitable aims and the CWC continues to support them through its leadership of The Maple Leaf Trust, the premiere charity of the Canadian community in the UK.