The Society maintains a central storage and work area for a large collection of Churchill works and memorabilia. Researchers may view the collections by appointment. Additionally a large volume of early Churchill Society documents are available for viewing at the Provincial Archives of Alberta. The Churchillian, the society’s newsletter, is published three times a year to keep members abreast of activities.
Our first 40 years: 1964–2004
By Lt. Col. Wally Ross (deceased)
It all began on January 25, 1964, the night of the annual Burns Club dinner. The Scottish bard had been dead for some 165 years, and a lively event had been thrown by the Edmonton club on that date every year since 1920. The mood that evening was particularly jovial.
Bill Newbigging was the current chair of the Burns Club, Alan Macdonald was the past chairman, and Sandy Mactaggart was the incoming chair.
Despite the chill of the cold January night, it had been such a pleasant dinner for Arthur Cload, Dr. H.T. “Tom” Southwood, and Dr. A.H. “Arnie” Lane that as the evening concluded, the three friends adjourned to the hotel lounge for a nightcap.
It was Arthur who observed that there was a man, still living, who was a giant in his time. Didn’t he deserve similar recognition?
Winston Churchill had uniquely impacted and changed the world.
Seed planted, they assembled a group of like-minded people: Basil Dean, publisher of the Edmonton Journal; John Flint, owner of a printing business; Cameron Steer, a lawyer who later became a judge; and Dr. H.D.M. MacPhee, physician.
They decided there should be an annual dinner patterned after a military mess dinner and they would seek out those who had worked with and knew Churchill to deliver a memorial address.
With the basics in place, Arthur wrote a letter to Churchill seeking permission to form a society in his name. The committee also applied to the Province of Alberta for society status, which was duly approved, and Arthur mailed Churchill photocopies of the documents.
Churchill’s private secretary thanked him, adding, “he [Churchill] bids me to send you his good wishes.”
When Douglas Walker-Brash, Head of Post, British Government Office in Edmonton, heard of the endeavour, he was instantly enthusiastic. Through his consular contacts, Field Marshal Lord Harding of Petherington agreed to deliver the ﬁrst memorial address. He had achieved fame as the commander of the Desert Rats.
As it was becoming increasingly evident that a great deal of planning would be required for this extraordinary event, Brigadier Bob Bradburn was asked to be the executive secretary of the newly formed society.
More than equal to the task, Bob called Air Canada, who agreed to provide free ﬁrst-class air travel. He also prevailed on his friend, Brigadier Leach, head of Western Army Command, to supply a staff car, driver, and helicopter, as well as a military band to provide music at the dinner.
Held on May 10, 1965, at the Hotel Macdonald with 625 leading citizens, business leaders, and philanthropists in attendance, the event was a resounding success!
During the planning process, Douglas Walker-Brash came up with the idea of having a toastmaster. The ﬁrst person to perform that duty was Bandmaster Fisher, resplendent in his mess kit. He sported a splendid moustache with waxed ends extending several inches on either side of his face.
Walker-Brash got the audience’s attention by pounding his drum major’s staff on a sounding board and announcing in his best parade square voice, “My Lords and Gentlemen! Pray, silence…!” Thus, a tradition was born; it remains one of the unique features of the annual dinner.
Lord Harding was asked to choose a song that could be sung at the end of the meal. He immediately said, “Land of Hope and Glory” because he knew Churchill would have approved. A second tradition was born.
The following year, on April 11, 1966, Lord Louis, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, resplendent in his full-dress admiral’s uniform, delivered the second Memorial Address. All who were present still speak of that evening.
Following the dinner, Lord Louis was asked if he would consider becoming the Society’s patron. He graciously accepted, and the Society’s future was assured.
On April 24, 1967, the Alberta Room of the Chateau Lacombe was ﬁlled to capacity. Over 700 distinguished people, many of them in military mess kit, came to hear the former Governor General of Canada, Field Marshal Earl Alexander of Tunis, speak.
His memorial address was so powerful that we knew he would be a hard act to follow! However, the Society had made its mark, and with “Dickie” Mountbatten’s gentle prodding, we continued to—and still do—attract high-quality speakers.
Hearing of our success, Calgary asked if they might join with us and have future speakers speak there following our dinners. We agreed, and they had their ﬁrst banquet in 1966. Vancouver came on board in 1979.
After Western Army Command was stood down, we did not have the support of the regular army, but the reserve army ﬁlled that gap.
Army staff cars were no longer available, but some of the Society’s members offered us the use of their vehicles.
Special mention must be made of CSM Bob Wall of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment who was our “ofﬁcial driver” for a number of years. Bob would stay in the hotel and hold himself available to the speaker; his name was always mentioned in the inevitable letter of thanks we received from the speakers on their return home.
A pattern developed for the speaker to arrive in Edmonton on Saturday, where members of the executive met him or her at the International Airport. From the airport, the RCMP provided a police escort to the city limits, where they were met by the Edmonton Police Service and escorted the rest of the way to the hotel.
That evening, the president and his or her partner would entertain at a quiet dinner in the hotel. The following day, the speaker would read the lesson at All Saints Anglican Cathedral, and then visit the president’s home for a lovely afternoon tea. There, the speaker and his or her partner could meet the members of the board and a few special guests. Following the luncheon, the winners of the debates and speech contests were presented to the speaker, who then awarded them their medals and prizes
In the early years, the dinners were all-male functions, not uncommon in those days. Happily, however, this changed, and for many decades men and women from all walks of life have been fully welcome and taken leadership positions in the Society.
The Edmonton Society has always had an executive secretary. Brigadier Bob Bradburn, the ﬁrst person to hold this ofﬁce, planned events in true military fashion. Major Keith Wakeﬁeld took over that position in 1973 and held it until 1984.
For the ﬁrst four years, Dr. Southwood held the position of honorary secretary. He was followed by Dr. Pat Finnegan who held the position from 1970 through 1979 when he and his family moved to the West Coast. Hon. Lt. Col. Wilf Sadler served the following four years, followed by Lt. Col. Wally Ross.
The ﬁrst chaplain was Monsignor Joe Malone, who performed that task until 1982. Bert McQuaid took on that duty for the following ﬁve years, but his failing health forced him to relinquish the post.
As the years and decades passed, those who knew and led with Churchill were reaching an age where it was becoming increasingly difficult or impossible for them to travel to Canada to speak at our events. At this point, the Society began to engage prominent historians and leaders who shaped the world after Churchill as our guest speakers.
The high school debates and speech contests were a little slow getting started, but we persevered, and they are now a permanent ﬁxture on the program. Establishing a contest between the winners from Calgary and Edmonton for the Alberta championship and the Billington Cup has been a welcome addition.
During his presidency, Dr. Harvey Hebb visited Cambridge and met the Master of Churchill College Cambridge, Sir William Hawthorn. Over dinner, they came up with plans for a scholarship for doctoral studies; Harvey came home and launched a fundraising drive. He single-handedly raised $100,000 and then approached Premier Lougheed, who arranged to match—and later double-match—the funds.
In 1978, the Society created the Edmonton Churchill Scholarship which supports a University of Alberta Engineering graduate to pursue his or her doctoral studies at Churchill College, Cambridge University. This award supports a recipient for three years at approximately $40,000 per year.
The University of Alberta took over the management of the fund in 1987. To date*, twenty-six students have received scholarships to Churchill College at Cambridge University for a PhD in Engineering.
Through the Churchill Statue and Oxford Scholarship Foundation, the Churchill Oxford Scholarship supports a University of Alberta Humanities graduate student to pursue their doctoral studies at Oxford University. This award currently supports a recipient for three years at approximately $20,000 per year.
To date*, five students have received scholarships to study Humanities at Oxford. Additionally, five other students have been awarded the Churchill Award in Honours History.
Dr. Joe Siegenberg became president in 1983 and decided we should erect a statue of Churchill in Churchill Square. Vince Reynolds attempted to obtain a charitable number from Revenue Canada but found that they would not provide a charitable number for that purpose.
After prolonged discussion, Ottawa agreed we could have a number for the creation of scholarships and could, as an adjunctive activity, erect a statue. And so, the Churchill Statue and Oxford Scholarship Foundation was formed.
Pearl Hawrelak Porter provided $25,000. Other major donors were the Hole Family, Sandy Mactaggart, and the Jasper Place Royal Canadian Legion. The past presidents of the Society each donated $1,000, as did many other Edmontonians. The City of Edmonton provided the land and the granite cladding for the plinth—the granite had been part of the facing for the old city hall that had just been replaced.
The Province of Alberta ﬁnanced the erection of the statue, including the plinth. Anxious to have the unveiling on time for the 25th anniversary, Joe Siegenberg paid for the statue, and the committee later repaid him. On May 24, 1989, Lady Soames unveiled the statue of her beloved father.
But the foundation still had work to do. There was still the matter of the Oxford Scholarship which required on-going funding. With the statue in place, it became difﬁcult to raise money, and the decision was made to run casinos.
It was decided that a collection of the ﬁrst 25 memorial addresses would be a ﬁtting way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Society. Putting together the volume, The Heroic Memory, 1965–1989, was a great undertaking.
As modern technology has improved, we have been able to preserve the addresses in more sophisticated and enduring ways; however, some of the earlier tape recordings, such as the address by Lord Shawcross in 1976, have partially disintegrated.
In other cases, only verbatim transcripts of the original speeches remain. Where possible, the original tape recordings were transcribed and edited for print; if these were unavailable, we used the extant transcriptions.
Since we wanted the focus to be on the speeches, we have not annotated the speeches, except, where possible, to refer readers to original sources for quotations from Churchill’s own writings.
The second volume, The Heroic Memory, 1990–2014, was completed in 2015 with the added benefit and ease of modern technical recordings and transcriptions of the banquet speakers.
We hope that making the ﬁrst 50 memorial addresses available in The Heroic Memory, volumes 1 and 2 will further the objectives of the Society:
• To keep alive for posterity the memory of The Rt. Hon. Sir Winston Spencer Churchill, K.G., O.M., C.H., M.P.;
• To retain for posterity with honour and dignity the shining example of the many facets of this extraordinary man;
• To perpetuate the ideals of courage and bravery displayed under the most trying and adverse conditions;
• To promote through the existing channels of communication the true history of his impact on world events.
*Please note that the information about scholarship recipients has been updated to reflect 2022 numbers. A history of the Society from 2004 to present will be published on our website in 2023.
Churchill: A Chronology
1874, Born at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England, to the grandson of the Duke of Marlborough, Lord and Lady Randolph Churchill (Jennie Jerome).
1880, His brother John (Jack) Strange Churchill is born in Dublin.
1882, WSC begins school at St. George’s School, Ascot.
1888, Churchill attends Harrow School
1893, Attends Royal Military College, Sandhurst, subsequent to having tried his entrance three times before successfully passing.
1895, Lord Randolph Churchill dies at the age of forty-five. WSC commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 4th Hussars. Visits the United States for the first time en route to Cuba to observe the rebellion against Spain. It is during this trip he begins his first journalistic work, sending despatches to the Daily Graphic.
1896, Arrives in Bombay, India with the 4th Hussars. Stationed at Bangalore.
1897, While on leave, he makes his first political speech to the Primrose League at Bath, England. Upon his return to India WSC travels to the Northwest Frontier and is attached as a war correspondent for the Daily Telegraph to the 2nd Brigade of the Malakand Field Force. On September 16 he sees his first action as a combatant, saving two wounded individuals from certain death at the hands of Afridi forces.
1898, Publishes his first book, The Malakand Field Force. He is attached to the 21st Lancers in Egypt. Participates in cavalry charge on September 2 at the battle of Omdurman.
1899, Defeated in by-election as a Conservative candidate in the riding of Oldham (Lancashire). Arrives in Cape Town, South Africa as a war correspondent for the Morning Post to cover the Boer War simultaneously seeking attachment to British forces in the field. On November 15, 1899, the Boers capture him during an attack on the armoured train he is travelling on. Imprisoned as a P.O.W. in Pretoria. He escapes captivity to Durbin on December 12 and becomes a celebrity for his experiences and reporting from South Africa. Publication of The River War, Savrola (his only novel) and London to Ladysmith.
1900, Takes a commission in the South African Light Horse in January. He returns to England and to politics on July 7. In October he is elected to the House of Commons as Conservative member for Oldham. Begins his first North American lecture tour on December 8, spending his Christmas in Ottawa as a guest of the Governor General, The Earl of Minto. Publication of Ian Hamilton’s March.
1902, Queen Victoria dies, January 22. WSC is in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Publication of Mr. Broderick’s Army.
1904, Opposes barriers to free trade and crosses the floor of the House of Commons to join the Liberal Party over the issue of Tariff Reform.
1905, Appointed Under-Secretary of State at the Colonial Office on December 4 as the Liberals form the Government under Campbell-Bannerman.
1906, Elected as the Liberal candidate for North-West Manchester in a Liberal landslide. Publication of the first volume of Lord Randolph Churchill. (2 Vols.) and For Free Trade.
1908, Enters cabinet as President of the Board of Trade in Asquith’s government. In April, he runs for and is defeated as Liberal member for Northwest Manchester in a by-election required as a result of his appointment to the cabinet. In May, he successfully wins a seat in Dundee, Scotland. Publication of My African Journey. Marries Clementine Hozier, September 12.
1909, Birth of first child, Diana, July 11. Publication of Liberalism and the Social Problem
1910, Appointed Home Secretary. Publication of The People’s Rights.
1911, Inaugural meeting of the “Other Club” on May 18. WSC is a founding member. Appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. Birth of second child, Randolph, May 28.
1914, Archduke Ferdinand is assassinated on June 28 in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Germany ignores Britain’s ultimatum to respect the neutrality of Belgium. On August 4, Britain is officially at war with Germany. Third child, Sarah born, October 8.
1915, Forced to resign as First Lord of the Admiralty after the debacle of the Dardanelles Campaign. Appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He takes up painting. He resigns from cabinet on November 11. A week later he returns to active military service in France as a major in the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars.
1916, Churchill receives command of the 6th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers, with rank of Lieutenant Colonel January 4.Serves with them on the Western Front. Battalion is amalgamated on May 3 and he is granted leave to return to London. He resigns his commission and returns to political life. Prime Minister Asquith resigns December 16, and is succeeded by Lloyd George. Publication of The Fighting Line.
1917, Returns to cabinet as Minister of Munitions. The United Sates enters the war in April.
1918, Cease-fire is declared November 11.ending the First World War. Fourth child, Marigold, is born November 15.
1919, Becomes Secretary of State for War and Air.
1920, Appointed Secretary of State for the Colonies.
1921, His mother, Lady Randolph Churchill dies in June. Daughter, Marigold, nearly three, dies in August.
1922, Fifth and last child, Mary, is born in September 9. The same month WSC buys Chartwell Manor, Westerham, Kent. He is operated on for appendicitis in October. The coalition government breaks up and Bonar Law becomes Prime Minister. In General Election in December, WSC, still very weak is defeated in Dundee. This is the first time he has been out of Parliament in 22 years. Bonar Law heads minority Conservative Government.
1923, Bonar Law resigns in May and is succeeded by Stanley Baldwin. In the General Election in December, WSC fails to get elected in West Leicester. Baldwin is elected Prime Minister of a minority government. Publication of the first volume of The World Crisis, (5Vols.)
1924, In January Baldwin’s government is defeated in the Commons. Baldwin resigns and Ramsay MacDonald forms a Labour Government. In March WSC unsuccessfully stands as an independent in a by-election in Westminster. IN October a conservative government under Baldwin is elected. WSC stands and is elected as a ‘Constitutionalist’ at Epping. He is appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer and returns to the Conservative Party.
1929, The Conservatives are defeated in the General Election; WSC retains his seat but is out of office. MacDonald’s Labour Party is in power. In August, he travels to North America. Starting in Quebec City, he travels by private railway car and speaks in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, with stops in Calgary and Banff. He visits Los Angeles, Hollywood, and is in New York for the Great Crash of the New York Stock Market on October 29. WSC loses a substantial amount. From now on his views and opposition to the government’s policies on Indian Independence, disarmament and the threat of National Socialism in Germany leaves him virtually isolated for the entire decade.
1930, Publishes My Early Life.
1931, The Labour government is dissolved in August. MacDonald forms a new ‘National Government’ made up of politicians from all parties. In the October general election, MacDonald’s coalition is returned with the support of a majority of conservative members. WSC Publishes India.Churchill arrives in New York on December 11 to begin a lecture tour.
1932, Between January 28 and February 21 he visits and lectures in nineteen American cities. It is during this tour he is struck down by a car in New York and severely injured. On May 8 he makes his first radio broadcast to the United States. Publishes Thoughts and Adventures andAmid These Storms.
1933, Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany. WSC publishes the first volume of Marlborough: His Life and Times.
1935, MacDonald’s retires as Prime Minister due to ill health and Baldwin succeeds him. The Conservatives win the General Election.
1936, Hitler remilitarizes the Rhineland in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles.
1937, The Abdication of Edward VIII. Neville Chamberlain succeeds Baldwin as Prime Minister on May 26. in December. WSC publishes Great Contemporaries.
1938, Hitler invades Austria, threatens Czechoslovakia; The Munich Agreement is signed on September 29.
1939, Germany invades Poland on August 31. The British send an ultimatum to Germany on September 3, giving the Germans two hours to halt their advance into Poland. The ultimatum is ignored and Britain is at war with Germany. WSC is appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. Correspondence between President Roosevelt and Churchill starts. Publishes Step by Step.
1940, Germany invades Holland, Belgium and France. Chamberlain resigns. Churchill becomes Prime Minister and forms a Coalition Government.
1941, On December 27, Japan attacks the American fleet at anchor at Pearl Harbour Hawaii. The Unites States enters the war against Japan. Germany and Italy declare war on the United States. WSC publishes Into Battle/Blood Sweat and Tears. (collected speeches).
1942, WSC is in Washington with Roosevelt when he learns of the fall of Tobruk in June. Publishes The Unrelenting Struggle. (speeches)
1943, Roosevelt meets with Churchill at Casablanca, Morocco on January 14. The policy of unconditional surrender is formulated. Sicily is invaded July 3. Mussolini resigns on July 25. August 29 WSC arrives in Halifax, Nova Scotia and there boards a train to Quebec City for the first Quebec Conference with Roosevelt hosted by Mackenzie King. Roosevelt and Churchill set the course for the cross channel assault on German forces in France. He takes a short respite from the war to fish in the Laurentians with Clementine and his daughter Mary. Italy signs armistice on September 3. Churchill meets again with Roosevelt in Cairo for the “Cairo Conference” on November 26. On November 28, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin meet at Teheran to discuss war strategy and the plans for ‘Operation Overlord’, the cross-Channel landing. They also discuss post-war reparations and compensation. December 10, he is taken ill with pneumonia en route to Carthage to meet with Eisenhower and nearly dies. He recovers and flies on to Marakech for convalescence. Publishes The End of the Beginning. (collected speeches).
1944, Allied forces land in Normandy, June 6, “D-Day”. September 10, arrives again at Halifax to board train for second Quebec Conference with Roosevelt on September 12. Publishes Onwards to Victory. (collected speeches).
1945, Churchill meets with Stalin and Roosevelt at Yalta and the “Yalta Declaration” is issued on February 4. Churchill takes farewell of Roosevelt aboard the American cruiser, “Quincy”, at Alexandria, February 15. This will be last time they meet before Roosevelt’s death. Observes first hand the crossing of the Rhine by British troops under the command of Field Marshall Montgomery, on March 24. On April 13. Churchill learns of Roosevelt’s death. Harry S. Truman becomes president of the United States. Announces the end of the war in Europe in a radio broadcast, May 8. He tenders his resignation May 23, ending the Coalition Government. He becomes Prime Minister of a (conservative) caretaker government until a General Election is held. Meets Truman for the first time in Berlin on July 26, there for the “Potsdam Conference” with Stalin. Churchill and the Conservatives are defeated in a landslide victory for Labour. Clement Attlee becomes Prime Minister and travels to Berlin replacing Churchill at the conclusion of the Potsdam Conference. WSC remains the Conservative member for Woodford becoming the leader of the Opposition. On August 6, the atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima. Japan surrenders on August 15. Publishes The Dawn of Liberation. (collected speeches).
1946, Awarded the Order of Merit by King George VI. March 6, at Truman’s invitation he travels to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri and gives his famous “Iron Curtain” address. PublishesVictory, War Speeches 1940 –1945 and Secret Session Speeches.
1948, Publishes the first volume of The Second World War, Painting as a Pastime and The Sinews of Peace (collected speeches).
1949, WSC visits New York, Washington and Boston.
1950, Attlee and Labour win a slim majority in the General Election. WSC celebrates the 50thanniversary of his first election to parliament on October 1. Publishes Europe Unite. (collected speeches).
1951, Conservatives under Churchill are returned to power and Churchill serves as Prime Minister until 1955. Publishes In the Balance
1952, Churchill meets with Truman in Washington on January 5, to argue the case for a summit of the major powers and to discuss the Korean situation. During this trip he travels to Ottawa to give an address at a banquet in his honour. King George VI dies January February 6. Succeeded by Queen Elizabeth II. Eisenhower is elected President of the United States on November 4.
1953, Meets privately with Eisenhower 7, in advance of his inauguration. Churchill again urges a summit with Stalin. This is a prime objective of Churchill’s until his retirement but Eisenhower never agrees. Stalin dies on March 5. Coronation of Queen Elizabeth on June 2. June 24 WSC sustains a major stroke that is not made public. He is out of action until October. December 1, WSC travels to Bermuda for the Bermuda Conference. The meeting is between Churchill, Eisenhower and French Prime Minister Laniel regarding European affairs, Russia and the Korean War. Appointed Knight of the Garter. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. PublishesStemming the Tide, Second World War (Vol1 and2).
1954, Makes his last visit to Canada on June 29 following a visit to Washington. His 80th birthday on November 30, is marked by a joint Parliamentary Presentation in Westminster Hall.
1955, He resigns as Prime Minister on April 5 and is succeeded by Anthony Eden. The Conservatives win the General Election the following May.
1956, Publishes Volumes 1 and 2 of A History of the English Speaking Peoples
1957 Anthony Eden resigns due to ill health on January 9 and is succeeded by Harold MacMillan. Publishes Volume 3 of History of the English Speaking Peoples.
1958, WSC is very ill with pneumonia while staying in the South of France in February and cancels a planned visit to the United States. Receives the Croix de la Liberation, in Paris, on November 6 from French President Charles de Gaulle.
1959, Flies to Washington in May and stays as a guest of President Eisenhower in the White House. In the general Election on October 3, He contests his seat in the Commons for the last time and is re-elected in another Conservative victory.
1961, Publishes The Unwritten Alliance.
1963, Proclaimed the first Honourary Citizen of the United States by President John F. Kennedy. His daughter, Diana (Sandys), takes her own life in October.
1964, He makes his last appearance in the House of Commons on July 27. He celebrates his 90thbirthday on November 30.
1965, Churchill dies on January 24. More than three hundred thousand pay homage while his body lies in state in Westminster Hall. His funeral is the first State funeral for a commoner since the Duke of Wellington. It is attended by six thousand people, six sovereigns, and fifteen heads of state. He is buried at St. Martin’s, Bladon near Blenheim Palace.