The St. Lawrence Toastmasters Club 606, was chartered on November 15, 1948. At that time, it was the only Toastmasters Club in Eastern Canada, east of Winnipeg.

Over the years the Club has had its ups and downs. In the mid-50’s, during a meeting held at former President and District Governor John McCormack’s house, there were only three members attending.  A decision had to be made – either to surrender the charter or give it another shot.  The latter course was followed, and the three members made an all-out effort to build up the membership.  Fortunately, they succeeded.

The Club was always able to keep a fine balance between experienced and new members without either group dominating. The retention of Past Presidents, the support they bring to the Club, the dedication to professional programming with a strong emphasis on evaluation have been the key to St. Lawrence’s Toastmasters’ success.  For many years more than sixty members belonged to St. Lawrence.

The Club has had a number of meeting places in Montreal. Its first meetings were held at the Central YMCA, the United Services Club, the Queens Hotel, the Naval Officers Club on McGregor.  In the mid 1960’s the club continued to hold its meetings at the Martinique Motor Inn, then at the LaSalle Hotel, followed by H.M.C.S. Donnacona on Drummond.  In 1978, the Mount Stephen Club hosted St. Lawrence, followed by the MAAA in 1989, the Hotel de La Montagne in 1991, le centre récréatif St-Henri in 2006, “Brasserie Magnan” in 2007, and its current home since 2008, l’Ambroisie. Located at Château St.-Ambroise, the historical architecture definitely adds a parallel charm to the dynamic of St. Lawrence Toastmasters. Many members who have attended reunions at this location for the last 13 years have mentioned appreciating this cachet.

In St. Lawrence’s early days, vigorous business sessions where motions, amendments to motions were made were common. The Chairperson thoroughly had to know Parliamentary Rules of Order to avoid letting the meeting get out of control. Early members included senior executives, including the Bank corporate secretary of the Royal Bank. Club executive meetings were run like company board meetings. They were wonderful occasions to learn how to run a small organization. 

Until 1976, St. Lawrence was a ‘’male only’’ club. It took three years, thus three elections to admit women by democratic decision after the international organization gave the option of admitting female members. This has added outstanding leadership and communication skills to St. Lawrence Toastmasters.

From the time it was chartered, St. Lawrence Club has implemented the commitments of the Toastmaster’s promise. According to one of its long-time members, Christian Turianskyj the following commitments have particularly forged the Club into the success story that it is.

Friendly environment – The person who encouraged him to join Toastmasters stated: Toastmasters are nice people! Many guests have been charmed and have adhered to St. Lawrence based on its warm welcome.

Constructive evaluations – Evaluation is an art and current members, some of whom have had over 30 years’ public speaking experience, provide evaluations of a high-caliber. St. Lawrence is well recognized in District 61 for its evaluation program.

Core values of integrity and respect – These Toastmasters International values are essential in a divided world. Respect for the individual, regardless of language, race or ethnic origin, whether as a guest, or a Toastmaster holding a function at the executive level or during a meeting, has created a motivating ambiance at St. Lawrence.

Thanks to these strong values, which have attracted committed professionals, entrepreneurs, students and members from a wide variety of cultures, St. Lawrence has collected 90 ribbons which are proudly shown on (four /five) banners at each of its reunions. Each one represents an achievement of the Club over the last 70 years, making it possibly the best in District 61! St. Lawrence has also been delighted to see three members qualify and participate in the International contest: Italo Magni, Jeanine Scott and G.A. Gamache (who at the time was a member of St. Lawrence). Over the years, St. Lawrence was known for its success in District contests. At one of them, all trophies were won: the English and French speech contest, the impromptu speaking contests (English and French), and the Evaluation contests (English and French). One of St. Lawrence’s current ‘’pillars’’, Italo Magni, was well known for speaking in the District contests. A large number of members (often 14-16 members) attended the weekend conferences. It was a great social event which combined party time as well as learning.

St. Lawrence Toastmasters has, over the years, witnessed positive transformation from accepting women members, becoming a fully bilingual Club, French and English, as well as starting and maintaining an interesting website: To this day, St. Lawrence has overcome, in its own way, Covid 19 by continuing to thrive using Zoom as its virtual meeting place, the year 2021 being its second year.

What makes St. Lawrence special? Its longevity, renewed youth, bilingual nature, diverse cultural background, the warmth of its members, and high standard of evaluation (which was particularly noted by current International President, Richard Peck DTM, during his October 2020 virtual meeting), symbols of what Montreal is all about and what Toastmasters International strives for in this world.

March 1, 2021

Caroline Tuchscherer, VP P.R. St. Lawrence Toastmasters
Editor and contributor: Christian Turianskyj
Contributor: Jacques Lamontagne and John Fowler