Toastmaster Trivia from the East Kootenay,
Toastmasters started in Cranbrook in 1973 when Gary Cavers put an
announcement on the radio asking for anyone interested in forming a
Toastmasters club. Fifty men showed up at a meeting at the Mount Baker High School to start the Cranbrook Men¹s Toastmasters Club. Women were welcome as guests but were not allowed to participate at that time.
Then other clubs started to form. A charter member of the men¹s club, John Noonan, was instrumental in starting the Cranbrook Ladies Toastmasters but as his wife Stevie said, "He first had to convince me to become a member". The Cranbrook Ladies Club was the first all women's club to be chartered in the world. In 1976, Stevie Noonan competed internationally in New Orleans, placing third...the first woman to ever place at a Toastmasters International Speech contest. Her husband John was International President for the year 1989 - 1990.
Sharron Billey, a former Ladies Club member, has been a Toastmaster for over 30 years and is still a member of the Cranbrook First Toastmasters, #3532. When talking about first joining Toastmasters Sharron said, Even though way back then it was difficult for me to even say my name, it was still great fun and a learning experience.
Eventually the women¹s club went down to 4 members and folded. A very
emotional time considering the history of the club but it was clear that the need to be co-ed was the better situation. The men¹s club, Cranbrook First Toastmasters, also became co-ed. Evelyn Craig was the first woman to join. She and Blair Farish were instrumental in starting the Cranbrook Phoenix Toastmasters #1911 in 1982 which is celebrating it¹s 25th anniversary this year.
Evelyn then moved to Invermere where she was instrumental in the chartering of the Rocky Mountain Toastmasters Club. Unfortunately, this club folded a few years ago. In Area 36, there are also the Creston Valley Toastmasters and the Omega Toastmasters clubs in Creston.
Respectfully submitted by Arla Monteith, CL VP Education 2007-2008, Cranbrook Phoenix Toastmasters