The Union Club of British Columbia came to Victoria on an early spring day in April of 1879, when a group of gentlemen met over Van Volkenburg’s butcher shop on the southeast corner of Yates and Government Streets, and founded the Union Club of British Columbia. Two of the more prominent members of the group, Sir Frank Barnard, K.C.M.G., and Mr. H.E. Croasdaille, were persuaded to canvas among friends considered congenial as Members. The result of the canvas proving satisfactory, the meeting was called to order and by unanimous vote, Sir Matthew Baillie-Begbie, C.J., was prevailed upon to become the Club’s first President.

By 1884, the Membership of 149 had outgrown the Yates and Government location. A General Meeting was held and it was resolved that the Club should build its own Clubhouse which would be worthy of its name. On March 27, 1884, City lots 230 and 231, at the corner of Douglas Street and Courtney Street, were purchased. On May 2, 1885 construction was completed and the Members moved into their sparkling new Clubhouse.

By 1909 Club Members had again out-grown the Douglas Street Clubhouse so they began hunting for a suitable property to buy. The Committee had received word that the old Badminton Club property on Humboldt Street was about to be put on the market. On December 13, a Special Meeting of the Members was called and $13,000 was raised to secure the option on the property. In 1910, construction began and in 1913, the first Grand Ball was staged in the new Clubhouse, under the Presidency of Mr. J. A. Mara, whose portrait hangs in the main stairwell of the Club to this day.

National Historic Site of Canada

On July 1, 2016, The Union Club of British Columbia was awarded national historic site status for its landmark Gordon Street building.

The Club earned this prestigious status for its important early history and outstanding architecture.

In August of 2016, on behalf the Union Club General Committee, then-President Bernard Beck expressed great pleasure at the recent announcement of the federal Minister of the Environment, responsible for National Historic Sites.

“During the past six years – from 2010-2016 – our Committee and dedicated volunteer Club members embarked on a wide-ranging program to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of our superb building,” according to Mr. Beck. He added, “The two-year project to restore the exterior of the building is now complete. With our new status as a National Historic Site, and the granting of a coat-of-arms by His Excellency the Governor General, our 2300 members celebrate with great pride our commitment to the Club and the community.”

This welcomed designation was made official on Monday, May 22, 2017 when the Union Club received its official plaque from Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and Parks Canada.

Her Honour, The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia was joined by Her Worship, Mayor Lisa Helps in unveiling this historic plaque.

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