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.
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.
located on Germain Street, one of
Saint John's most historic uptown
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
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.