Our History

Our Club Name

Town and Gown Toastmasters was born from a desire to bridge the space between the city and university communities. Town refers to the City of Guelph and Gown refers to the traditional graduation gowns worn at the University of Guelph. The melding of these two entities has resulted in the lively and diverse club we call our own!

Club # 5717 - District 86 - Area T94

A Brief History

Adapted from text written by Bob Dye, D.T.M (Distinguished Toastmaster) and Co-founder of Town and Gown Toastmasters September 15, 2008

The beginning

In the summer of 1999, Peggy Nagle of the Open Learning part of the University of Guelph decided that it would be an asset to the University to have a Toastmasters Club on campus. She dropped a hint to Governor Michael Bagchus of Toastmasters District 60 and to Tom Molloy of her home Club at Waterloo Silver Tongues about organizing one.

At the same time Bob Dye from Hershaw Toastmasters in Brampton had expressed his interest to District 60 in helping to start a new Club within reasonable driving distance of Georgetown.

18 July 1999

The idea was born one sunny afternoon in Peggy's garden where Peggy Nagle, Bob Dye and Tom Malloy met for the first time and hit it off immediately. That afternoon they decided that the name of the Club would be “Gryphons” (which fit the University), we would meet in the morning (so Guelph would have Toastmasters morning, noon and night), it would be open to all (as in Open Learning) and we would operate all summer.

1 Sept 1999

Submitted the application to Toastmasters International on September 1, 1999. Peggy Nagle had donated seed money of $500 from a Toastmasters Speechcraft Program at the University.

15 September 1999

First demonstration meeting. In Waterloo Silver Tongues tradition, we had a Meeting Theme “New Beginnings” for that first meeting and we used their Speech Evaluation form with the formal Speech Objectives on the back. We have a new Theme for every Meeting and relate our “Toast”, “Word of the Week” and “Table Topics” to that Theme.

28 June 2000

On June 28, 2000 we had 25 Members signed up and we could Charter. 19 Members were from the University, 6 from outside.

Following is our first Executive:

President: Andy Purmals - Station Fire Chief, Toronto

VP Education: Jim Gao - Student

VP Membership: Ariam Gomez - Student

VP Public Relations: Lisa Wu - Student

Secretary: Susan Bird - Student

Treasurer: John West - Student

Sergeant-At-Arms: Louisa Lin – Student

Club Sponsors were Tom Molloy and Bob Dye.

Club Mentor was Peggy Nagle.

27 September 2000

The new District 60 Governor, Sandra Wolfe (of Brampton), presented our formal Toastmaster Club Charter to President Andy Purmals at the Club Meeting on September 27, 2000. Also present (at 7:00 am!) were Past District Governor Michael Bagchus (of Toronto), Western Division Governor Heidy Schmidt (of Listowel) and Area 23 Governor John Holmes (of Cambridge)! What a collection of brass!

Our Continued by Changed University Connection

Since then, legal and liability concerns have led to some formal distancing from the University with separate liability insurance coverage on record and our new name of Town & Gown Toastmasters. Informally, we have stayed very close over the years. We continue to meet every week on campus in the OAC (Ontario Agricultural College) Boardroom at Johnston Hall. The Club Members and Executive include academic, administrative, graduate and undergraduate people from the University and people from businesses outside.

Our Meetings

We have adjusted the Toastmasters format to fit our one-hour Meeting time – and we hold to that time. We have adjusted for the 3-semester calendar of the University. One year we started with 25 members, recruited 20 new members, and ended with 20! Of necessity we have developed ‘crib-notes’ (or is that ‘cheat-sheets’?) for every Meeting Role so newcomers are comfortable in them very quickly.