Marjorie McCarthy Cairns

WCCC pianist for many years

Our talented pianist, Marjorie McCarthy- Cairns, was born and raised in Winnipeg, MB. She started piano lessons at the age of 11 and also loved to sing, so vocal lessons were added to her musical training.

You may be surprised to learn that petite Marjorie also studied the pipe organ and subsequently played at the Anglican Cathedral and other churches here in Calgary. She and her first husband moved to Alberta after he accepted a position as an Agricultural Advisor with a large financial firm. Marjorie found playing the organ a lot of fun and loved the wonderful sound the instrument produced.

An active member of Holy Cross Anglican Church, Marjorie was the organist there for 15 years, directed the adult choir and also started a children’s choir. She still enjoys singing with the adult choir to this day.

Marjorie worked as a Music Librarian in the University of Calgary’s Music Department for 25 years. She enjoyed serving the students and being a part of their progress in the field of music. Many life-long friendships were formed during this time between Marjorie and her musical colleagues.

 Her voice teacher, a former singer with the Metropolitan Opera, encouraged Marjorie to join the Calgary Opera Chorus and she sang with them for 25 years. As well, she was a member of the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus and the Festival Chorus. At present, she enjoys singing with The Westside Singers, a group of seniors who perform at retirement centres around the city.

When Marjorie retired from the University of Calgary, she began volunteering at the Kerby Centre, playing piano in the dining room and assisting with several other committees, one of them being the ‘Travel Committee’. She led several trips abroad and on one of them, a Caribbean cruise, she met her second husband, Bruce Cairns. Together they travelled the world…Greece, Egypt and Africa to name a few destinations. Her favorite trip was a river cruise from St.Petersburg to Moscow, Russia.

Dennis McCarthy, Marjorie’s first husband, played football for the University of Saskatchewan which led Marjorie to develop a keen interest in football, hockey and baseball. Watching the Calgary Stampeders, the Calgary Flames and the Toronto Blue Jays fuels her passion for sports.

Marjorie loves people and being involved which is one of the reasons she joined The Women’s Canadian Club of Calgary. A decade ago, one of her girlfriends invited her to attend a luncheon and Marjorie immediately took a liking to everything the club had to offer – the food, the speakers, the history – she felt an instant connection, serving on the Board for several years.

When asked if a favorite speaker came to mind, Marjorie replied, “ALL of the speakers have been very good. I always come away with a good deal of new information. I am a happy and satisfied WCC member!”

Marjorie has one daughter who lives in Calgary and works for a large insurance company.  When Marjorie married Bruce Cairns, she ‘inherited’ 5 adult children and 8 grand-children who have been a wonderful addition to her life. Bruce passed away this summer, after 15 happy years of married life.

Reading fills up the small bits of free time in Marjorie’s life, when she isn’t singing, playing the piano, watching her sports teams and spending time with family. She is a very busy lady and we are so grateful she is willing to share her time and talents with our organization.



Nan Bredin

President 1968-1970

For Nan Bredin, joining the Women’s Canadian Club of Calgary in 1954 was “just the thing to do” as her mother was a long standing member of the club. Nan and her good friend, Aileen MacDonald, both in their late twenties, joined together and were the young ones in the group at that time. Nan has noticed that in recent years more young people have been joining our club.

Many changes have occurred over the years… Nan recalls how the women always wore hats and gloves and when they stopped wearing hats, there was a sea of gray hair throughout the Crystal Ballroom.

Nan loved serving on the board, first as Vice-President and then President from 1968 to 1970. They worked hard, but had a lot of fun as they took turns meeting at each other’s homes . Documents in the Glenbow Museum show that in the first year Nan was president, the membership grew from 559 members in 1968 to 680 members in 1969. That was a significant increase in membership in just one year. Most of the speakers at that time were booked through the Ottawa office. Nan recalls having her picture taken shaking hands with guest speaker, Lester B. Pearson.

One of Nan’s most memorable luncheons was sitting at the head table beside the guest speaker, Charlotte Whitton, a feisty individual from Ottawa. It was the first time Nan had left her two children on their own for lunch. When the speaker learned they were making mushroom soup on their own, she exclaimed, “That was a stupid thing to do! Why didn’t you buy something to just heat up instead of expecting them to measure?” Charlotte Whitton (1896 – 1975) was a Canadian feminist and mayor of Ottawa. She was the first woman to become mayor of a major Canadian city in 1951. She is noted for the quotation: “Whatever women do they must do twice as good as men to be thought half as good. Luckily this is not difficult.”

Often, when Nan was preparing for the club luncheon and meetings, she would share her speech with her husband, Ed, as they were lying in bed. Ed would usually make suggestions to change something, but Nan would reply, “No, this is what I want to say…” And so it was…

Nan was also Vice-President of the Prairie Region for The Women’s Canadian Club which included Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In this role, Nan was required to travel to Ottawa on a number of occasions which involved paying her travel expenses out of her own pocket. Back then, one of the challenges was to balance expenses with income. It was considered an honour to be invited to speak at the club, so only a very small honorarium was given to speakers. At the time, the president was given $20.00 to cover “entertainment expenses” with the speaker. Nan recalls that Aileen Fish, a previous President, put the $20.00 back into the club to balance the books. Yes, money was “tight” then too.

Nan grew up in Tisdale, Saskatchewan, where her father was a doctor. It was a very progressive town and a great place to live. It had an Opera Club and a Science Club for adults. After the family moved to Edmonton during the Second World War, Nan attended the University of Alberta and graduated as a dietician. Finally, the family moved to Calgary and it was there that Nan married Edward Bredin, QC, and raised their two children. Their son, James, is a film editor in Toronto and daughter, Maryann, works at the University of Calgary.

Nan is an amazing individual with a great sense of humour. She will soon celebrate her ninetieth birthday. Recently in the foyer of the Glencoe Club, where she has been a member for many years, she turned to ask me (a fairly fit woman in my sixties), “Are you okay taking the stairs?” She then proceeded to climb the staircase of 28 steps to the second level with ease!

As Nan reflects on her life, well-lived, she recalls being happiest when she was traveling. She feels very fortunate to have traveled to many parts of the world.

The Women’s Canadian Club of Calgary recognizes Nan Bredin for her contributions over the years.


Kit Maude

Catering and Conference Manager at Palliser Hotel

Kit Maude, Conference Services and Catering Manager at the Fairmont Palliser – home of our luncheons for over 100 years – has been taking extraordinary care of our menus and special requirements for more than 20 years, performing her magic behind the scenes.

 Born in Orangeville Ontario, Kit had an early start in the hospitality and service industry, helping to clean rooms in a family motel, service station and restaurant.

In her early 20’s, she took o the position of front desk clerk at a resort in Huntsville, Ontario.  She has remained in this industry because – in her own words – “I love the people”.

When Kit and her young son moved west to Calgary, she held an office position in the construction industry at PCL, returning to hospitality and service at the Sheraton Cavalier when it opened in 1983.

Her final move, in the early 1990’s was to the Fairmont Palliser as Catering Secretary where she also arranged small meetings.  Over the years, the position evolved to Catering and Conference Manager as she worked with groups, local events, and at one time, weddings.

In sharing her many memories and highlights at the Fairmont Palliser, Kit recalls such high profile guests as Prince Phillip, Prince Andrew, and Tom Selleck.  She loves to see well-satisified clients and guests  whose tall orders have been filled  - such as clients in the Crystal Ballroom.


Shirley Allen

President 2009-2012

Shirley Allen worked for many years managing a Word Processing Center for The City of Calgary. During this time she was approached to sit on SAIT's Advisory Board consisting of representatives of 26 corporations. It’s purpose was to ensure SAIT was teaching the proper subjects required by the various Corporations within the City of Calgary.

Later, Shirley was asked by SAIT to teach Word Processing and Microfiche in the evening to Adult students as part of their Secretarial Diploma. She continued teaching these subjects to various departments within The City organization.

ln 2003, Shirley Allen's life would change. Following Shirley's retirement from the City of Calgary after 28 years, Molly Strickland, Shirley's friend invited her to a Women's Canadian Club of Calgary (WCCC) luncheon. She attended the lunch and was amazed how much she enjoyed herself. "lt was like a door opened in my life", Shirley explained to me.  "l only had hobbies of sewing, skiing and walking at that time".  Shirley joined the WCC in 2003 and has hardly missed a luncheon since and has learned a great deal about her Country and Province.

Later, Marjorie Nickerson, invited Shirley to join the Board and she was excited and proud to take on a leadership role.   She started as Assistant Membership Chair and then moved to Membership Chair, then Assistant Speaker Chair.  ln 2009 the out-going Vice President due to health reasons wasn't able to accept the new President's position, so Shirley was approached to be President.  She accepted and remained in that position for three years. After serving as Past President for 2 years, her term of eight years on the Board had been served.  During her years on the Board, Shirley greatly enjoyed the Board meetings and the pleasant social times that followed the business activity.

Shirley came to life when she talked about the WCCC, and told me she was so proud to walk in the room with the head table Guest Speaker and the Leadership Team.  To this day, her heart melts when she stands and sings "O Canada" and "God Save the Queen".  She has an ardent desire to see the wonderful traditions established in the WCC continue for many years.

One of the highlights and proudest moments for her was the Centennial year.   Shirley put her heart and soul into creating a special luncheon for the members to commemorate the WCCC’s 100th year on January 11th, 2011.  The Board was very supportive and helpful.  She remembers making connections with various government bodies to acknowledge the WCCC milestone.  The 17th Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, Donald Ethell and Her Honour Linda Ethell  had accepted the invitations to attend and their protocol had to be respected.   Guest speaker was Elizabeth Cannon, and she had just become President of The University of Calgary who spoke on "Women in Leadership" and it was so fitting and inspiring for all that attended. A highlight of the luncheon was 9  year old Declan Todd bag-piping in the head table guests lead by the RCMP Aide-de-camp, The Lieutenant Governor, Her Honour, Speaker and Board representatives. Some of Shirley's favorite speaker's topics were: Mount Everest, Alberta Oilsands, World Class Resource, ldentity Theft and Digital Privacy, Surgery in the New Era, and Discoveries in Stroke Research.

ln 2011, Shirley also took on the WCCC website and is so proud of how it has transitioned today. She does recall a time of turmoil in 2O11, when we had no one to take over as President.  At that time, the Club by-laws stated you could only be in a Board position role for 2years. Shirley contacted the Provincial Government to receive approval to change the Club's established by-laws to 3 years. As well, she had to send out 450 letters to all the members to obtain their approval to this change.  At the June closing luncheon, members present voted in favour of the change and enabled her to continue the President role for a 3rd year.

There were sad times too, like when a greatly respected and active fellow Board Member, Margaret McClusky, suddenly passed away.  "You have to pick up the pieces and move forward."  She recalls always having a strong supportive Board, and when last minute things happened there was always someone that would step in and take on an extra task.  The members were always so supportive and appreciative of such great speakers and lovely luncheons.  lt's even more than just the speakers and the food, Shirley recalls, it is the relationships and camaraderie and traditions that has been built over the years that our members cherish,  and this keeps them coming back.

Shirley's husband Lloyd has always supported her efforts; so much so that he joined the WCCC himself.  That year, there were 5 men that joined.  Shirley and Lloyd live in Mountain Park and look forward to their times with friends and family including, 1-daughter, 4-sons, and 9-grandchildren.

Shirley is currently working on an album for the Club which will highlight the activities of the Club during her presidency.


Margaret Montgomery

President 1974-1976

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon when I arrived and was greeted warmly by Margaret in her gorgeous home.  During my visit, we soon got onto the subject of ‘The Women’s Canadian Club’.    It was interesting to learn that in 1958 Margaret and her husband moved from Toronto to Calgary where he had accepted a position with a law firm.   Margaret’s husband, Bob, was very active in the Men’s Canadian Club soon became President.  Later he was made an Honorary Life Member.  Margaret’s affiliation with the Men’s Canadian Club introduced her to the Women’s Canadian Club and she became a member in 1966.   

Margaret was a very active member and held many positions on the      Board.  In 1974 she became President and held that position for two years.  She shared that during this period, there were many activities in the Club including a Fashion Show in 1976 to mark the 65th anniversary of the Club.  Many of the clothes that were modelled were of an early vintage.  Margaret recalled that during her presidency she attended the Western Regional Meetings in Regina at which time Agnes Benedickson was the national president.  Also during her tenure, the Women’s and Men’s Canadian Clubs were privileged to host their Clubs National Convention. 

At our time of reminicing Margaret mentioned that Diane Randall, president 1972-1974, awarded the former past presidents Honorary Life Memberships in the Club.  This was later cancelled by the Board.  Presently, the Club has four Honorary Life Members.  During her term as president, Margaret bestowed this honour upon Eve Reid who was the Social Editor at The Albertan and a keen supporter of the Women’s Canadian Club.

Computers hadn’t been invented and Margaret recalls that Mrs. Leismer, a friend of the Club, was responsible for dinner reservations which had to be made by telephone.   This is difficult for the writer to understand the tedious work involved due to the large membership at that time.

In the early days and for many years, the National Office provided each year several speakers for the Canadian Clubs across Canada.  These speakers were shared by the two Clubs, with president’s taking turns conducting the meetings. 

Many well known prominent and exciting speakers were engaged during Margaret’s presidency.  Her first speaker in 1974 was Hugh McLennan who experienced the Halifax Explosion in 1917 and later authored the well known book ‘Barometer Rising’, ‘Two Solitudes’ and several others. 

Another well known personality was Don Jamieson, a Newfoundland broadcaster who became a member of Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet and later High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.  It was said that Mr. Jamieson was against Newfoundland joining Canada but preferred economic union with the United States. 

 A very amazing speaker was Ellen Fairclough, a chartered accountant who became Canada’s first woman cabinet minister in the 1957 Diefenbaker government.  Another amazing lady was Beryl Plumptr a forceful and forthright woman.  She headed the Food Prices Review Board in the 70’s.  At her own insistence, she was given an unique mandate by Pierre Trudeau’s government to report food price increases to the Canadian Public. 

As Margaret and I were discussing the early days, she mentioned Phyllis Ross, an Economist in the Public Service of Canada.  This speaker attained the most senior position a woman could hold in the Canadian Civil Service and was open to say that her salary was two-thirds of a man’s salary.  Her husband was Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia from 1955 to 1960 and her son, John Turner, was the 17th Prime Minister of Canada.    

Let’s not forget how very interesting it was to turn your radio dial each week day to the well-known broadcaster and writer Peter Gzowski.  He was involved in many community and national programs and was a welcomed speaker that everyone enjoyed. At the time he spoke, the Women’s Canadian Club and the Canadian Club membership rose to one thousand. 

During Margaret’s term, The Calgary Herald was most generous in publishing the names of the head table guests, as well as on occasion, sending reporters to the luncheons.  This was free advertising that helped promote the Club. 

As an aside, Margaret mentioned that there have been three couples who have served as presidents of the Calgary Canadian Clubs.  They are Nan and Ed Bredin, Ethel and Jack McDonald and Margaret and Bob Montgomery.

I positively became aware during our time together that Margaret has been and still is a strong supporter of The Women’s Canadian Club.  She is very involved in her personal life and an active member in her Church.  Personally, I find Margaret such an inspiration and I absolutely enjoy each and every time I have the  opportunity to be with her.  I know that I can speak on behalf of the Women’s Canadian Club of Calgary, as we all ‘Thank You’ so much for your contributions over the years and look forward to your continued support.