The History of Toastmasters
Since Toastmasters began, more than two million men and women have benefited from the communication and leadership programs of the organization. The first club was formed in October 1924, when a group of men assembled by Dr. Ralph C. Smedley met in the basement of the Santa Ana, California YMCA to form a club to afford practice and training in the art of public speaking and in presiding over meetings, and to promote sociability and good fellowship among its members. The group took the name Toastmasters.
A year later, a second club was started in Anaheim, California, followed by a third in Los Angeles. By 1930, it was apparent that a federation was necessary to coordinate activities of the clubs and to provide standard methods. After formation of a club in Victoria, British Columbia, the group became known as Toastmasters International. Growth was slow during the early years, but the number of clubs increased steadily. The forerunner of today’s Communication and Leadership program, Basic Training was introduced in 1942 and has been expanded and updated many times since then to keep abreast of the times and members’ needs.
Membership in Toastmasters International increased rapidly after the end of World War II, and by 1954 the number of Toastmasters clubs had approached 1500.
Gavel Clubs were formed in 1958 to accommodate groups wanting Toastmasters training but not qualified for Toastmasters membership. These clubs provide communication and leadership training in correctional institutions, hospitals, and schools. In 1966, the Youth Leadership Program, for young people in junior and senior high school, was added to the list of established community programs being presented by Toastmasters. In 1962, World Headquarters offices were moved to a new building in Santa Ana, California, not far from where the first club began.
In 1973, Toastmasters club membership was opened to women, enabling them to benefit also from self-development in communication and leadership. In the same year, a comprehensive listening program was introduced to further help members develop their communication skills. The following year saw a celebration of their organization’s first 50 years and the promise of an even more successful second half-century. New programs, including the modular Advanced Manual Series, Success/Leadership Series, and self-study cassette tape programs, were added to augment the Communication and Leadership program. Growth in new clubs, especially in the corporate sector, reached new highs in the late 1980s, with more than 7000 clubs, and there are now over 10,000.
Today, Toastmasters International is the undisputed world leader in public speaking training with the promise that the best is yet to come.
The History of the Sears-Halifax Club
The Sears-Halifax Toastmasters Club has a long and illustrious history, being the oldest Club in Nova Scotia. The Club was chartered on the 25 February 1956 as the Simpson and Simpson-Sears Toastmasters Club and it wasn’t until 1977 that it changed it’s name to the current Sears-Halifax Toastmasters Club. The club has been very active supporting and sponsoring clubs throughout Nova Scotia. These include:
The Club has conducted Speechcraft courses for companies and the community including:
|1967||Maritime Tel & Tel|
|1970||Junior Chamber of Commerce|
|1972||Maritime Tel & Tel|
|1977||Royal Bank Managers|
|2018||Open Door Center|
Club member Jack Kiuru became Nova Scotia’s first Distinguished Toastmaster in 1979 and went on to become District Governor of the Year that same year and was elected International Director in 1980.
The Club continues to thrive, picking up awards along the way:
|1982||Select Distinguished Club|
|1986||Select Distinguished Club|
|1987||President’s Distinguished Club|
|1989||President’s Distinguished Club|
|1991||Select Distinguished Club|
|1993||Select Distinguished Club|
|2002||President’s Distinguished Club|
|2003||Select Distinguished Club|
|2004||Select Distinguished Club|
|2005||Select Distinguished Club|
|2006||President’s Distinguished Club|
|2007||President’s Distinguished Club|
|2008||President’s Distinguished Club|
|2009||President’s Distinguished Club|
|2010||President’s Distinguished Club|
|2011||President’s Distinguished Club|
|2012||President’s Distinguished Club|
|2013||President’s Distinguished Club|
|2014||President’s Distinguished Club|
|2015||Select Distinguished Club|
|2016||President’s Distinguished Club|
|2017||President’s Distinguished Club|
|2018||President’s Distinguished Club|
|2019||President’s Distinguished Club|
Each club attempts to achieve a series of ten goals each year. Depending on how many are achieved, the club could be awarded one of the following distinctions:
- Achieve five out of ten goals:
- Distinguished Club
- Achieve seven out of ten goals:
- Select Distinguished Club
- Achieve nine out of ten goals:
- President’s Distinguished Club
The significant anniversaries of the Club have been celebrated in style with distinguished speakers from all walks of life:
|25th, 1981||Admiral Lord Nelson Hotel||Sears General Manager Gerry Grandy|
|40th, 1996||Halifax Sheriton||1995 World Champion Speaker Mark Brown|
|50th, 2006||Westin Nova Scotia||Hon John Buchanan – former premier of NS (1978-1990), former Senator (1990-2006)|
|55th, 2011||Halifax Atlantica Hotel||Neil Everton from Podium Coaching & Communications|
|60th, 2016||The Westin Nova Scotian Hotel||Joe Grondin, a 2010 and 2015 finalist in the Toastmasters World Speaking Championship|