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Celebrating 124–125 Years


The VWA, one of the oldest volunteer organizations at Victoria, is a friendly group of people who are interested in Victoria and Vic students and in higher education. Our members are Vic grads, friends and relatives of Vic grads and of current Vic students, Vic faculty and staff and their spouses, and members of the public who enjoy being in the university environment.

You do not have to be a university grad or even to have any connection to Vic in order to be a VWA member! And even if your children have already graduated from Vic, we would be very happy for you to be involved. Our annual membership fee is modest ($20) and guests are always welcome.


The Friends of Victoria University Library and the VWA have decided to have joint meetings this academic year. Because of the pandemic and the resulting constrictions (proof of double vaccinations, Covid Screening Tools, and a total of 25 people indoors) these meetings will be virtual, via the internet and also by phone, unless noted otherwise in the spring. The phone numbers and the required meeting IDs and passcodes will be posted below.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021 at 2:00 p.m.

VWA and Friends of Victoria University Library are inviting you to a scheduled Zoom Lecture.

Topic: Victoria President Emeritus Prof. Paul Gooch,  " 'Who Can You Trust These Days?'  Listening to Politicians, Scientists and Other Would-be Experts in the Information Age."

Join Zoom Meeting

By Computer

Meeting ID: 862 6348 4968

Passcode: VICTORIA

By Phone (voice only)

Dial by your location

        +(1)   647 374 4685 (Canada)

Meeting ID: 862 6348 4968

VOICE ONLY Passcode: 44626399

Wednesday, January 26, 2022 at 2:00 p.m.

VWA and Friends of Victoria University Library are inviting you to a scheduled Zoom Lecture.

Topic:  Dean of Students, Kelley Castle, Associate Dean, Scott Johnston and VUSAC President, Jerico Raguindin, "Vic Now."

Join Zoom Meeting

By Computer

Meeting ID: 995 9222 2906

Passcode: VICTORIA

By Phone (voice only)

Dial by your location

        +(1)   647 558 0588 (Canada)

Meeting ID: 995 9222 2906

Voice Only Passcode: 56965732

International numbers available:

“Vic Now”

Wednesday, February 23, 2022 at 2:00 p.m.

VWA and Friends of Victoria University Library are inviting you to a scheduled Zoom Lecture.

Topic: Prof. Ira Wells, Victoria College, "Norman Jewison: From Vic to Hollywood and Beyond."

Join Zoom Meeting

By Computer

Meeting ID: 873 4494 2427

Passcode: VICTORIA

By Phone (voice only)

Dial by your location

        +(1)   647 558 0588 (Canada)

Meeting ID: 873 4494 2427

Voice Only Passcode: 76940039

International numbers available:

“Norman Jewison: From Vic to Hollywood and Beyond”

Wednesday, March 23, 2022: This is the Friends annual Prof. F. David Hoeniger Lecture that the VWA is invited to join. The speaker is Canadian author Lynne Golding. More information on the title and the time later.

The Lunch is scheduled for Wednesday, April 20, 2022, 11:40 a.m. for noon, Alumni Hall. However, it may have to be postponed.

Note: As of March 2022, the VWA will be celebrating 125 years. It was in March 1897 that Margaret Burwash, wife of Vic’s president-chancellor, took the chair (over the objections of some men who were convinced women were incapable of chairing) of a meeting in Vic chapel to form a group that became the VWA. One of its purposes was to raise money for land and furnishings for a residence for women because when Vic moved from Cobourg to Toronto in 1892, there was nowhere safe for them to live; this concerned some women, among whom were alumnae, wives of Vic faculty and administrators, and Methodists. However, a bequest of $50,000 the previous year in 1896 from businessman, philanthropist, and reliable supporter of Vic, Hart Massey, for such a residence, had encouraged these women. After intensive and sometimes difficult fundraising, the determined and dedicated women successfully raised enough so that in 1903 Annesley Hall opened under management of the VWA and with Margaret Addison as dean.


In the spring of 2020, we cancelled our March meeting and our April Lunch, and we also had to cancel our 2020-21 program.

VWA Membership

The annual membership fee is $20 which may be paid at our meetings by cash or by cheque, payable to the VWA, or, a cheque may be mailed to our address below. If you should wish a receipt, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

VWA Mailing Address

VWA, c/o Victoria Alumni Office, 150 Charles St. W., Toronto, ON  M5S 1K9

Any questions? E-mail us at

For online donations to the VWA Bursary Fund, click on VWA Bursary

A Word of Thanks: The VWA is grateful for the support of Victoria’s administration, faculty, and staff, including those in Conference Services, Food Services, and Physical Plant Services. We especially appreciate the assistance of Louise Yearwood, Executive Director of Alumni Affairs and Advancement, and the members of Victoria’s Alumni Office. They all make our work and commitment so much easier.

Presidents of the VWA

The VWA is pleased to celebrate the leadership and contributions of all the presidents of the Association. Until 1964 the presidents were the wives of Vic administrators or, in the case of Margaret Addison, an administrator herself. Marguerite Fidler was the first president not connected to the administration and insisted that men were welcome as members. She served with great enthusiasm from 1964 to 1966.            


1897-1912      Margaret Burwash

1912-1921      Julia Graham

1921-1933      Margaret Addison

1933-1949     Maud Brown

1949-1958     Ethel Bennett

1958-1964     Helen Frye

1964-1966    Marguerite Fidler

1966-1968    Ruth Fallis

1968-1971     Dorothy Crummey

1971-1974      Alice Jackson

1974-1975     Ruth Hodgetts

1975-1978     Suse Eggert

1978-1980    Doris Stokes

1980-1982    Audrey McCullough

1982-1985     Joan Breukelman

1985-1988     Audrey Chapple

1988-1991     Joyce Clarke

1991-1994     Margaret Roots

1994-1999    Marian Gibson

1999-2000    Joan Breukelman & Audrey McCullough

2000-2004   Anne Sinclair

2004-            Diane Dyer

History of the VWA

In looking back at some of the achievements of the VWA (Victoria Women’s Association), we recognize the remarkable impact that the Association has had on the education of women, particularly in the early years: the Association not only encouraged women to attend university but also aided them financially whenever possible.

Read More About the History of the VWA

What We Do

Throughout the academic year the VWA hosts five afternoon programs, presented primarily by Vic faculty and staff. Meetings end with refreshments—we charge just enough to cover costs—and with an opportunity to chat with the speaker and with other members. The year concludes in April with a luncheon and speaker followed by the AGM. Every fall, we send a program to our members, donors, and the Vic campus community. The program will also be available on this website.

Please join us and bring your friends and neighbours!


From its beginnings in the 1890s, the Association has helped students in need; it formed the first bursary fund for that purpose in 1909. Today the VWA raises money for The Endowed Bursary Fund through which it continues to assist Vic students financially.

Donations may be sent to our mailing address above with a cheque, payable to the VWA Bursary Fund. A tax receipt will be sent to you. If you choose to donate online, click on VWA Bursary.

Note: Victoria College and not the VWA selects the recipients of these bursaries.

Charitable Registration No.: 119285419RR0001

The Margaret Addison Scholarship

Margaret Addison retired as Dean in 1931 and the VWA established a fund of $5,000 for her use. After Addison’s death in 1940, this fund and the money the Alumnae Association had raised were combined to form this scholarship. As a result, every other year the income is awarded to a Vic woman for graduate study outside of Canada. 

In 1978, the VWA also established a scholarship in honour of Ethel Granger Bennett, a long-time VWA member and the president of the organization from 1949 to 1958. This scholarship has now become part of the Bennett Scholarship.

The Association has raised an enormous amount of money over the years for the benefit of Victoria and Vic students. These financial contributions were acknowledged when the VWA was granted lifetime membership in U of T’s Presidents’ Circle recognition society and an Arbor Award from U of T in 2013.