The Union Club
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Club History

The history of the Union Club dates back to May 1884. The Club was the brainchild of a group of businessmen looking for a place to gather for companionship and the exchange of ideas, similar to the clubs known in England, Scotland, and Ireland at that time. The first President of the Club was Joseph Tucker and the clubhouse was a mere couple of rooms in the Stocton Building on Prince William Street.

At the same time there was also a group of senior businessmen of the city informally meeting in a building on Chipman Hill. The two groups decided to amalgamate and formed the new club in 1890.

We're located on Germain Street, one of Saint John's most historic uptown streets.
The current club facility was built by the newly-formed company despite concern and opposition over its location. Majority soon prevailed and the impressive red brick, three-story edifice with large bay windows was ready for occupancy later that same year. The richly panelled foyer, in the Victorian tradition, features a luxurious carved staircase done by J. D. Howe, a furniture dealer and manufacturer. Local craftsmen and figurehead carvers were commissioned to decorate the oak paneling throughout the building.

The adjoining lot was left in trust to the Union Club by George F. Smith, President of the Club from 1889 to 1890, and in 1905 a new wing was added. The architect for the addition was F. Neil Brodie, with the firm Tilly & Clark as contractors. The addition provided a magnificent dining room with a herringbone oak parquet floor, a grand fireplace with a hand carved mantle piece including a gargoyle face, and a beautifully hand carved buffet. Bay windows to complement the original structure were also an added feature.

Over the years the Club has played host to many prominent and important people. In 1912 the Governor General of Canada, the Duke of Connaught, was entertained at a banquet in his honour. Celebrated novelist Sir Henry Ryder Haggard, author of ?King Solomon's Mines? visited in August of 1914. A Royal visit in 1919 by H. R. H. Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, escorted by Sir Robert Borden graced the halls of the Union Club, and many more including Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark, Jean Chretien, and Frank McKenna and have passed through our doors.

Women were first invited to join the Club in 1936, forming the Ladies Section of the Club and taking up residence on the second floor. To celebrate their formation, the first Lady President, Mrs. F. P. Coombs, held a tea with 150 attendees, 90 of whom were members of the newly-formed club. The second floor was attractively redecorated and furnished with a more elegant appeal, complete with linen towels and Pears Soap in the powder room.

Today, the Club continues to evolve, changing with the times while remaining timeless in its appeal. Yet, the purpose of those businessmen in 1884 still prevails: a place to gather for companionship and the exchange of ideas.

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