A History: The Harvard Club of Toronto

HCT’s 119 years
By Cindy Maxwell ’92, MD’97; updated by Wendy Feldman, MPA’89 (Sept 17, 2023)

The Harvard Club of Toronto (HCT) was founded in 1904 and is one of the oldest Harvard Clubs in the world. The HCT has over 120 members with 3500 alumni/ae living in the Toronto area. The HCT supports a spirit of community among graduates and former students of Harvard University, promotes alumni/ae interest and engagement in the academic and extracurricular activities of Harvard and encourages educational and social activities for its members and their families.

Members include alumni/ae from almost all of Harvard’s schools, including Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges, the Business School, School of Dental Medicine, Division of Continuing Education, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Divinity School, Graduate School of Design, Graduate School of Education, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Kennedy School, Law School, Medical School, the School of Public Health, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

A Part of Toronto History: The Early Years
The Harvard Club of Toronto was a pioneer in the establishment of Harvard Clubs outside Cambridge. By comparison, its rival, the Harvard Club of Boston, was formed only four years later. The City of Toronto has named the restaurant where the Harvard Club was founded 100 years ago a “lost historic site.”

According to the City of Toronto archives, McConkey’s Restaurant was the place to meet for decades. On Saturday, March 5, 1904, the “Harvard Men of Toronto” initially met for lunch and numerous toasts at McConkey’s, at what is now 27-31 King Street West. McConkey’s was regarded as “the chief restaurant in the city for most of its life,” according to a City of Toronto report. The owner, Thomas McConkey, had established a confectionery on the site in the 1840s. The first electric lighting in Toronto was illuminated outside McConkey’s at the new building’s grand opening in 1879. The restaurant’s longevity was assured by McConkey’s descendants. Ernest G. McConkey ran the business at 111 Bay Street until his death in 1937, with the restaurant closing in 1940.

The City of Toronto honoured McConkey’s Restaurant as a Lost Historic Site and stated in its report: “Any restaurant that lasts for nearly 100 years is special indeed and deserves commemoration.” At the Centennial gathering of the Harvard Club of Toronto, we too honoured all our members, past and present, and commemorated an enduring bond between Harvard University and the City of Toronto.

The archives of the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) have the minutes of the HCT’s first meeting:

"This meeting was held in response to invitations to a luncheon sent out by a self-appointed committee, of which R.C. Matthews was Secretary pro tem."
"These were present at the luncheon: Prof. Hume, Prof. Chant, Prof. McLay, Prof, Cohoe, and Messrs. A.J. Thomson, W.G. McFarlane, R.C. Matthews, Kenneth F. MacKenzie, A.G. McAvity and G.H. Campbell. Prof. Hume occupied the Chair."
"Letters of regret were read from Messrs. W.L. MacKenzie King and J.H. Faull."

"Correspondence between Mr. Matthews and Dean Hurlbut of Harvard and Mr. J.D. Green, Secretary to President Eliot, was read."
"The toasts proposed were: “The King” by the Chairman, Prof. Hume; “Harvard University” by Mr. McAvity, responded to by Prof. Chant and Prof. Cohoe; “Canadian Universities” proposed by Mr. Matthews, responded to by Prof. McLay, Mr. Campbell, Mr. MacKenzie and Mr. McFarlane."
"Favourable opinions were expressed by all present in regard to forming a Harvard Club. It was moved by Prof. Cohoe, seconded by Mr. McAvity and carried unanimously, that the men present form themselves into “The Harvard Club of Toronto."
"On motion, a resolution was carried, instructing the Secretary to telegraph congratulations to President Eliot of Harvard on the celebration of his seventieth birthday."
"We have recently learned that the Honorable Robert C. Matthews, a 1902 Harvard College Graduate and second president of the Harvard Club of Toronto, was a prominent Canadian politician and businessman. He was a member of the Queen’s Privy Council in 1933 and was Minister of National Revenue for Canada from 1933-1935. Fortunately, the Honorable R.C. Matthews was able to attend the founding meeting for the Harvard Club of Toronto, whereas the Honorable William Lyon MacKenzie King (our future Prime Minister) sent his letter of regret."

Early Years
The original club, founded in 1904, held small but regular meetings until 1933. At any one time, there were never more than four or five members “who were what we would call four-year college men” according to HAA archives. The Depression and World War II reduced the interest and participation of HCT members. Still, when “prominent men from Cambridge have visited Toronto,” they were entertained at an afternoon or evening meeting of the Club. Most members were involved with academic work at the University of Toronto. The HCT maintained a connection with the Associated Harvard Clubs, and for many years, Herbert L. Sanborn ’07, was the Canadian vice-president of the Associated Harvard Clubs.

Forging Ahead: 1960s and 1970s
During the 1960s a group of alumni incorporated a charitable organization, Harvard University Associates in Canada, Inc., to assist Canadian students to attend Harvard University. Henry Rutherford "Harry" Jackman, who attended Harvard Business School in 1924-1925, served as its first president. Jackman was an active member of the Harvard Club of Toronto, a loyal Harvard supporter and from 1940 to 1949, MP for the riding of Rosedale. Jackman was succeeded by William Herridge ’53, LLB’56. Events were hosted by the HCT in conjunction with the Law and Business School clubs, and participants included Richard Meech LLM’51, Pierre Trudeau AM’45, Harry Arthurs LLM’59, Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, Robert Stanfield LLB’39, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party (a large gala took place in his honour at the Granite Club), and Donald MacDonald, LLM’56.

Outreach to high school students in the Toronto area became a focus for the Club in the 1960s and 1970s. Nick Volk ’53, president of HCT from 1967-1970, the Club’s profile by holding joint “Ivy Nights” where prospective students and their families could learn more about Harvard (as well as Yale and Princeton). These efforts resulted in the first-ever admission of a student from Vaughn Collegiate to Harvard College. HCT held many events in conjunction with the Harvard Business School Club, and invited guest speakers included, The Hon. Bora Laskin LLM’37, Supreme Court Justice, Hal N.R. Jackson, Lt. Governor of Ontario, and Harvard University President Derek Bok JD’54, AB’71 (hon), LLD’92 (hon).

During the 1970s and 1980s the Schools and Scholarship Committee continued to be the HCT’s priority. Committee members interviewed all candidates from the Toronto area. While volunteers interviewed 50–60 applicants, fewer than 10 students were admitted. Princeton was the foremost competing Ivy School for our region’s applicants until this period, and then gradually Stanford, MIT and Duke University also attracted Toronto’s most talented students. There was an important HCT annual meeting to review area applicants, a tradition that continues today. Throughout the year, the HCT hosted several smaller, including luncheon speakers and a reception to celebrate accepted applicants.

The HCT membership always maintained a mixture of alumni and alumnae of the College and the various Graduate Schools. A significant proportion of the membership came from the Harvard Business School (HBS), which still has an active Club of its own in the Ontario region.

Countdown to the Centennial: 1980s and 1990s
The membership and activity level of the HCT increased from 50 members in the early 1980s to over 240 members in the 1990s. Activities expanded from luncheon speakers, to arts and sports events, social evenings, holiday parties and galas.

  Harvard Club of Toronto (@HarvardClubTO) / Twitter

Interviews of Harvard College applicants
Admission to Harvard College continued to be an important part of the HCT activities: the Schools Subcommittee was established to organize the interviews done by local alumni/ae of a much larger number of area applicants. An Ontario-region representative from the Harvard Admissions Committee often attended the Fall meeting of the HCT, to foster ties between the two organizations. HCT Executive Committee members have also reached out to Toronto’s public high school guidance teachers to encourage their most talented students to apply to Harvard College.

Currently there are 15-20 students from the Toronto area admitted to Harvard College, from approximately 300 applicants each year. The Schools Committee coordinates the interviews conducted by about 100 Harvard alumni volunteer and ensures that reports are submitted to Harvard Admissions.

A wonderful tradition of the last +20 years has been a reception co-hosted with the United States Consul General in Toronto to celebrate with these “new admits” as well as their parents and interviewers. Students admitted to all schools at Harvard University are also included as they join the Harvard community in Toronto.

   Harvard Club of Toronto
New admits with USCG Juan Alsace in June 2018

New admits with USCG Susan Crystal in August 2022

Over 100 years of the HCT
In May 2003 (then) President Lawrence Summers launched the Club’s centennial year with his remarks at the celebratory luncheon for +500 alumni at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto. The Harvard Global Series was held in Toronto in 2007 with Harvard deans, professors and +800 alumni from around the globe at the Royal York Hotel. In April 2016 “Your Harvard: Canada” welcomed (then) President Drew Faust to Toronto to meet +600 Canadian alumni at the Aga Khan Museum.
The Harvard Club of Toronto reached its one-hundredth year and continues to thrive by taking on new activities. A Brown Bag Lunch Series attracts prominent speakers from diverse academic, business, and artistic disciplines. Club members enjoy group visits to galleries and new buildings, theatre and sports events, book launches, wine tasting evenings, community service days, networking evenings, pub nights, and holiday parties. Recent Grads subcommittees have added new social events. Events held with partners such as the HBS Club in Toronto and other Ivy Schools, expand our community and programs.

The HAA’s Global Networking Nights are held in cities around the world: for several years the HCT has hosted these social evenings (in March) in Toronto to bring alumni together. Recently the HAA's September Welcome to Your City event has brought recent grads together as well. 


HCT focuses on leadership and engagement to build a strong Harvard community in Toronto. It remains close to the university and the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) through the Alumni Leadership Conference. Several of our presidents have served on the Harvard Alumni Association bringing the voice of HCT members to Cambridge. Several HCT members have received awards for their service to Harvard and its alumni.

Harvard Club of Toronto Presidents
1904 Professor Hume, University of Toronto
1910 Robert C. Matthews ’02
1911 S.B. Trainer ’04
1912 G.H. Locke
1946-49 S.B. Trainer ’04
1959-63 Arthur H. Richardson ’20
1963 Marshal Stearns ’31
1967-70 Nicholas Volk ’53
1970-71 Robert G. Watson ’47
1973-75 Herbert E.C. Stoneham ’62
1976-77 Albert Abel
1977-78 L. Frederick Valentine ’65
1978-80 Ross McDonald ’51
1980-81 Thomas Heintzman ’62
1983-84 Bernard McGarva ’75
1987-88 Brian Mulroney ’76
1988-90 Philip Evans ’81
1990-92 Steven Mamarchev ’75
1992-00 Tim Kennish ’61
2000-05 Bill Horton ’77
2005-08 Mitchell Wigdor ‘77
2008-11 Cindy Maxwell ’92, MD’97
2011-14 Jonathan Guss ‘68
2014-17 Jordan Dupuis, AB
2017-21 Ann Elisabeth Samson, AB
2022- Wendy Feldman, MPA’89

Speakers to the Harvard Club of Toronto


Hon Elizabeth Dowdeswell, LG of Ontario

Stephen Toope, President CIFAR

Rhonda Lenton. President York University

Heather Stark, Harvard Business School

John Echohawk, Native American Rights Fund

Peggy Smith, Lakehead University

Bob Watts, Harvard Kennedy School

Orit Sarfaty '97, Evergreen Brickworks

Jaspreet Sandhu, Massey Hall

Tim McCarthy, Harvard Kennedy School
Penny Collenette, Harvard Kennedy School and UOttawa
Wilton Littlechild, former Grand Chief of Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations.
Natan Obed, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
Michael Mckay and Shelagh McCartney, Harvard School of Design
Anna Banerji, Harvard School of Public Health
Mark R. Beissinger, Princeton University
Susan Harper, Canadian Consul General, Miami
Susan R. Crystal, US Consul General, Toronto
Dave Meslin, author and community organizer
Sara Peredi, Harvard Kennedy School and advisor President Obama
Penny Collenette, University of Ottawa Law School
Steven Levitsky, author How Democracies Die
Mark Carney, former governor Bank of England, Bank of Canada
Juliette Kayyem, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School
Vincenzo Grassi, Director, European International Institute

Sandford Borins, MPP, PhD, Rotman School, Toronto
Nick Giacobbe, Public Affairs, US Consulate General, Toronto
Kevin Johnson, Consul General of the United States
Allan Bonner, Communications Management Inc.
Johann Olav Koss, CEO and Founder, Right to Play International
Mohsen Mostafavi Dean, GSD, Harvard University
Richard Sommer, Dean of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto
Chris Glaisek, Vice President, Waterfront Toronto
Nina-Marie Lister, Associate Professor, Urban and Regional Design, Ryerson University
Ron Dembo, Founder and CEO, Zerofootprint
Elisa New, Professor of English, Harvard University
Allan Grill ‘MPH 04, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto
Allan M. Brandt, Dean of the GSAS, Harvard University
James Breech PhD’76, Cougar Global Investments LP
Nicholas Leyland MHCM’06, Associate Professor, University of Toronto

Brigadier General (Ret.) Russell D. Howard MPA’88
David Bell ’69, Professor Emeritus, York University
John R. Nay, Consul General of the United States
Jorge Dominguez AM’68, PhD’72 Professor and Vice Provost, Harvard University
Tom Heintzman ‘86, President, Bullfrog Power Inc.
Steini Brown ‘93, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health, Ontario
Peter Jones MBA’72, Chair, Ontario Power Authority
Peter Cooper MBA’75, President, Scienta Health Group
Hon. James Flaherty, Federal Minister of Finance
Mark Moore ‘00
William Fitzsimmons ’67, AM ’69, PhD’71, Dean of Admissions, Harvard College
David Staines AM’68, PhD’73, Professor of English, University of Ottawa
Kevin Lynch, Clerk of The Privy Council
David Agnew, President UNICEF Canada
Michael Bryant LLM’94, Ontario Attorney General
Michael Fenn, KSG State & Local Government Program, Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Toni Marwitz, Consul-General for the United States in Toronto
Morris Rosenberg, Deputy Minister of Justice
Michael E. Raynor AB ’90; DBA 2000, Author and Consultant, Deloitte
Stephen Toope ’78, President, the Pierre Trudeau Foundation
Bill Raduchel AM’68, PhD’72, Executive Vice President, AOL Time Warner Inc.
David Goldbloom ’75, Physician in Chief, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Ian Clark MPP’70, President & CEO, Ontario Council of Universities
Peter Hogg LLM’63, Dean, Osgoode Hall Law School
Harriet Friedmann PhD’77, Professor of Sociology, Munk Centre for International Studies
Niall Ferguson, Professor, Harvard University
Michael Ignatieff PhD’76, Professor, HKS, Harvard University
Lawrence Summers PhD’82, President of Harvard University
Franklin Huddle AM’70, PhD’78, Consul-General for the United States in Toronto
Malcolm Sparrow, Professor, Kennedy School of Government
Otto Broderick, Professor, Kennedy School of Government
Jill Levenson PhD ’67, Professor of English
Marty Linsky, Professor, Kennedy School of Government
David Pecaut ’77, President iFormation Group
Michael Grace AM’68, PhD’72, Regional Director, Harvard Alumni Association
David Miller ’81, City of Toronto Councilor
Honourable Peter Cory, Supreme Court of Canada
Chrystia Freeland ’90, Deputy Editor of the Globe and Mail
William Dimma DBA ’73, Author
Christie Todd Whitman, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
James Flaherty, Minister of Finance, Deputy Premier of Ontario
Thomas Homer-Dixon, Professor, University of Toronto
Paul Celluci, US Ambassador to Canada

Joseph Nye PhD’64, Dean, Kennedy School of Government
Linda S. Wilson , President of Radcliffe College
Roger Martin ’79, MBA’81, Dean of the Rotman School of Management
Robert Goodenow ’74, Executive Director, NHL Players Association
Alvin L. Clark, Jeffrey Q. Horvitz Research Curator, Fogg Art Museum
Frank McKenna, Premier, Province of New Brunswick
Purdy Crawford, Chairman, Imasco Limited, Canada Trust
Michael MacKenzie, School of Business Administration, York University
Paul Weiler LLM ’65, Professor, Harvard Law School
Ken Dryden, MP, Author
Tom McGowan, Canadian Radiation Services
John Kenneth Galbraith AM’50 (hon)
David Johnston ’63, President University of Waterloo, Principal, McGill University

Traditional Harvard Songs
Fair Harvard - Arranged by Thomas Moore
First Verse
Fair Harvard! we join in thy jubilant throng,
And with blessings surrender thee o'er
By these festival rites, from the age that is past,
To the age that is waiting before.
O Relic and type of our ancestors' worth,
That hast long kept their memory warm,
First flow'r of their wilderness! Star of their night!
Calm rising through change and through storm.
Second Verse
Farewell! thy destinies onward and bright!
To thy children the lesson still give,
With freedom to think, and with patience to bear,
And for right ever bravely to live.
Let not moss-covered error moor thee at its side,
As the world on truth's current glides by,
Be the herald of light, and the bearer of love,
'Til the stock of the Puritans die.

Ten Thousand Men of Harvard - Murray Taylor ’18
First Verse
Illegitimum non carborundum;
Domine salvum fac.
Illegitimum non Carborundum;
Domine salvum fac.
Gaudeamus igitur!
Veritas non sequitur?
Illegitimum non carborundum -- ipso facto!
Fourth Verse
Ten thousand men of Harvard want vict'ry today,
For they know that o'er old Eli
Fair Harvard holds sway.
So then we'll conquer old Eli's men,
And when the game ends, we'll sing again:
Ten thousand men of Harvard gained vict'ry today!

Harvardiana - R.G. Williams ’11
With Crimson in triumph flashing
'Mid the strains of victory,
Poor Eli's hopes we are dashing
Into blue obscurity.
Resistless our team sweeps goalward
With the fury of the blast;
We'll fight for the name of Harvard
'Til the last white line is passed.
Harvard! Harvard! Harvard! (2x)

Yo Ho The Good Ship Harvard - Richmond Fletcher ’08
Yo ho! The good ship Harvard
Is goalward bound again;
All the crew are at the halyards,
Here's a hail for Johnny Harvard's men!
Bright Crimson at the forepeak
Rides high above the foam.
While we sweep through the deep blue,
Harvard strikes home!

Harvard Club of Toronto Centennial Planning Committee 2004
Nancy Coombs EdM ’89
Wendy Feldman MPA ’89
Faith Berghuis ’57
Wendy Kennish ’91
Cindy Maxwell ’92, MD’97
Mitch Wigdor ’77
Bill Horton ’77
Geoff Hall LLM’96
Ethan Bernstein JD’03, MBA’03
Bernie McGarva ’75
Erick Almasy ’71, MBA’75
Wendy Burton ’75