Prior to 1987 Imperial held an annual cocktail & dinner social event for retired employees. These were held in different centers. For example the Toronto area gathering was held at 111 St. Clair. These events were for retired employees only, excluding spouses.
With the large increase in retirements in the early 80’s the dinners at 111 were becoming increasingly crowded and dysfunctional. Art Kell, who was to take over the job as host for the annual gathering at 111, along with Alec Budge in Calgary, had been questioning whether there could be a better way.
Word got to Arden Haynes and he asked Grant Nuttall to investigate a club type concept being used by Exxon. Grant, in turn, asked Don Penrose and Alec Budge (recent retirees) to assist him in evaluating this idea. The three of them held meetings with retired employees, and spouses, throughout Canada , to outline, and get general approval for the new club concept we have today.
Don determined the location for Toronto area clubs of reasonable size using telephone area codes. Our boundary was determined as Steeles North and our club became known as “Esso Annuitant Club-Toronto North”. The East and West boundaries were always quite hazy, to say the least. This was not important as members of all clubs were allowed to move, thus continuing working relationships.
The first item on the agenda for the Toronto North Club was to select an executive. Representatives were selected from as many corporate departments as possible. The result of the above was: Harry Abel, Maurice Crompton, Dorothy Honeyford, Herb Marshall, Chuck McCallum, Walter Purches, Barb Mannell (vice president), and Norm Perrett (president).
Through a special meeting, held at Senaca College Kings Campus, involving all members, we attempted to obtain suggestions regarding preference for club activities. Separate booths were set up where background information was available for various activities; for example travel (anywhere from overnights to 7-10 day cruises), one-day bus excursions, social dinners, golf and bridge
By far the most interest was in travel, boat cruises and golf. Christmas and summer steak-out dinners at Thornhill Golf Club as well as bus trips to Niagara-on-the Lake/Stratford for luncheon and plays were also high on the list.
Our executive met frequently, sometimes weekly, to digest all this data. After agreeing on the event, the timing, the location, a “sponsor” was selected who then took charge. Communication to the members was handled by the old pro Maurice Crompton using hardcopy and mail.
Day trips and special one day affairs took off with great enthusiasm, as did golfing, a Day at the Races and bridge. A mid-winter luncheon was added and within six months we had something arranged for each month, except July and August.
A special committee was set up to study cruises and train trips. After trying three or four times to line up cruises or train trips we realized that, while members had indicated an interest in travel, they could not collectively agree on the when and the where to go. Keeping in touch with members to continually assess their wants was done via feedback at each event as well as an annual open meeting to plan the next year’s menu and designate the sponsor for each event.
Towards the end of the second year it was evident that there were a few people who, because of age, frailties, hearing, etc., did not feel comfortable attending the large gatherings. This lead Gerry O’Neill and me, with approval of Norm Emms, to try various ways to keep connected to this important group. After much trial and error we began what is now known as the “Continued Connection Committee”. Dave Copeman became chair of this important committee, and Eric Adams has recently taken this position. Some 10-12 years ago the Continued Connections Committee requested the club to develop the Toronto North web page so we could maintain closer relationships with this special group. One thing we did learn on this part of the developmental journey is that no program should ever be judged solely on the numbers of people attending an individual event. Special needs must always be given consideration.
After twenty-two years our club has continued to grow, not only in numbers but also in that invaluable asset that we all need; that of growing and deepening friendships within our Imperial oil family. Congratulations to Arden for endorsing this social activity and congratulations to the presidents and their executives of our Toronto North Club who have continued to develop our club over the years.