Established in 1903, as a response to Canadian political unrest, the Empire Club quickly became a leading speakers’ forum. The first speakers addressed topics related to Canada’s strategic relationships with the United Kingdom and the United States and the name of the Club reflected its founders’ desire for the country to maintain strong ties to the Commonwealth.
Since its inception, the Empire Club has hosted 3,500 prominent Canadian and international leaders, including Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, the Dalai Lama, Indira Gandhi, Audrey Hepburn, Christopher Plummer, Roberta Bondar, Maureen Forrester, Adrienne Clarkson, Margaret Thatcher, Vladimir Putin, Bill Gates, and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
As a club of record, all speeches and conversations that happen at the Club’s podium (in-person or virtually) are chronicled and made accessible to all. For many years and free of charge, the Empire Club Foundation distributed a yearbook containing all the speeches from the season to universities, consulates, and libraries in Canada and beyond. This annual “Red Book” is now digitized and archived enabling all to have access to this unique history of public discourse.
The Empire Club has evolved over the years and strives to ensure diversity is reflected in topics, speakers, and its governance structures. The Club recognizes that over its 119-year history, there have been viewpoints expressed at its podium by speakers that perpetuated and reinforced colonial attitudes and oppression. These do not reflect the Club’s commitment to equity, inclusion and reconciliation.
The Empire Club believes that public dialogue has immense power to connect people to ideas and each other, and in the importance of the inclusion of different voices and perspectives.