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Branch History | Montreal Dickens Fellowship

Montreal Dickens Fellowship
for the best of times

Branch History

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The Charles Dickens Museum is at 48 Doughty Street in Holborn,
London Borough of Camden, England.
It was Charles Dickens' home from March 25, 1837 to December 1839.
The Dickens Fellowship came into being in London in 1902 "to knit together in a common bond of friendship all lovers of Charles Dickens' writings and to spread the love of humanity, which is the keynote of all his works".

There are now over fifty branches worldwide.
There are four branches in Canada:
Toronto, Ontario,
Ste Catherine's, Ontario,
Chatham-Kent, Ontario and
Victoria, British Columbia.
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Victoria Hall

The original Montreal branch of the Dickens Fellowship was founded in 1909 and ran until 1963.

An excellent history of the branch was written in The Montreal Gazette: October 15, 1963.

The original branch met regularly at Victoria Hall.

The Dickensian (the official publication of the Dickens Fellowship) Here, There and Everywhere, 1909 p. 167 has a great description of the branch founding:

"A new branch was formed in the city on March 5, which already promises to be an excellent and influential one. The Rev, Dr. Symonds was elected Honorary President and Mr. J. Porteous Arnold, President. Mr. E.H. Wilkinson was elected Secretary. Meetings will be held from October to May and there is every indication that much talent for making them enjoyable will be found among the members. The membership fee is 50 cents. Already many Dickensians have joined the branch, and when it gets into full swing in the coming autumn, the Branch will find itself a stronghold of Canadian admirers of Dickens. "

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The first meeting of the second year.
"Reproduced with the express permission of:
"The Gazette", a division of Postmedia Network Inc."
The Dickensian 1912

"The Council at headquarters had the pleasure of meeting Mr. and Mrs. Godbee Brown, during their visit to London recently. They attended one of the Council meetings and each addressed the members on the work of the Fellowship in Montreal. Mr. Sydney Marriott conducted them through Dickensian London and entertained them at an At Home at his house to meet members of the Fellowship."
Mary Sollace Saxe (1868-1942), who was the librarian at the Westmount Library from 1901 to 1931 was an early member of the Fellowship and served as vice president of the Montreal Branch in 1914. Link to Mary's
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Stephen Leacock (1869-1944, humorist, economist, historian, McGill professor)
served as president of the Montreal branch and wrote a biography of Charles Dickens: "Charles Dickens His Life and Works" bookstore link

His 1933 article in "The Saturday Review" April 17, 1943 p. 16-17 "Dickens Distilled, How to Lose Size without Losing Stature" is worth a read.
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Dr. Lorne Huston presented the Montreal branch with a pamphlet originally published in 1939 by the Montreal Dickens Fellowship.
Follow the link to view “The Story of 30 Years’ Activities of The Montreal Branch
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"Reproduced with the express permission of:
"The Gazette", a division of Postmedia Network Inc."
The last entry about Montreal in the Dickensian.
Mentioned Miss G. White of Walkley Avenue as the last known contact of the Montreal Branch.
Gazette article by Andrew Paterson announcing that the local branch of the Dickens Fellowship has ceased to exist.
The Montreal Gazette October 15, 1963
In February 2012, in honour of the 200th anniversary of Dickens' birth, our branch began its second life with a birthday party attended by an enthusiastic group of Montreal Dickens fans at the Westmount Public Library (right next door to Victoria Hall, where the original branch met regularly).

Keen participants continued to meet to share this common interest and re-establish our fellowship by bringing together like-minded Dickens lovers from the Montreal area to celebrate the life and works of this great author.
On April 5, 2014, the Dickens Fellowship council in London, England unanimously voted to bestow official membership status on our newly re-forming Montreal branch.
May 21, 2014
Archives of former Montreal Dickens Fellowship were revealed.
    Send us any information about our branch
If you have any information about our branch, if you were a member, knew a member or are interested in helping our historical search, please contact Ellie Clavier-Rothstein.