English Speaking Union
The English Speaking Union of Canada, Toronto-Hamilton Branch
Nine Decades of Service Promoting Spoken English
The Canadian Royal Heritage Trust and the English Speaking Union, Toronto-Hamilton Branch
Effective 1 January, 2013 the English Speaking Union, Toronto-Hamilton Branch became an affiliate of the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust. Although it will remain a separate organisation from the Canadian Royal Heritage Institute, its programmes will be co-ordinated with those of the Institute in the Toronto-Hamilton area. Since the ESU’s national Educational Trust Fund was closed at the end of December, 2012, the ESU, Toronto-Hamilton Branch’s charitable educational projects, such as Shakespeare on the Platform, while continuing to be administered by the Toronto-Hamilton Branch of the ESU, will now be funded through donations to the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust. Shakespeare’s legacy and the other educational work of the English Speaking Union is a significant part of Canada’s cultural royal heritage. The Canadian Royal Heritage Trust is excited about the further educational endeavours and service to the community that this affiliation will provide.
The English Speaking Union of Canada brings together Canadians who believe that the English language offers people of different races and cultures an enriching means of shared communication. They see the use of English as a way of promoting national and international understanding. Her Majesty The Queen is the Patron of the ESU of the Commonwealth and HRH The Princess Royal is the President, having succeeded her father, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in 2013.
The English language is spoken by over a billion people worldwide. It is one of the two official languages of Canada. In the last hundred years English has become the international language of business, travel and technology. Because many of the world’s great orators, poets, playwrights, historians, philosophers and statesmen have spoken and written in English, the language is associated with a rich and extensive culture, which it makes available to the world.
One of Canada’s older cultural organisations, the English Speaking Union was established in this country with the opening of the Toronto Branch in 1923. The ESU itself grew out of World War I. It was the creation in 1918 of Sir Evelyn Wrench, an Anglo-Irish journalist and friend of Sir Winston Churchill. Sir Winston himself served as ESU President in the 1950s. Its original purpose of developling ties between the United Kingdom, the United States and the Commonwealth, has since been extended to include Europe, South America, the Middle East and Asia. National ESUs are active in over fifty countries around the world, countries as varied as Hungary, Georgia and Japan. International headquarters of the ESU remains at Dartmouth House, London.
Organised in branches across the country, the English Speaking Union in Canada has a considerable record of achievement. For ninety years, in keeping with its aim of encouraging the use of spoken English, it has sponsored and supported activities that maximise the language’s rich potential in education and daily life. They have included scholarships, student exchanges, competitions, forums, debates, seminars, conferences, meetings, excursions, social gatherings and publications.
Toronto-Hamilton is a banner branch. Each year the Toronto-Hamilton Branch holds a series of afternoon teas and lectures at which members can meet and hear from historians, authors and other public speakers on a variety of subjects. The Branch also arranges other events such as luncheons and excursions, takes part in heritage shows, and joins different organisations in marking important occasions in the community.
Shakespeare on the Platform.
The Toronto-Hamilton Branch has organised and held twenty-three Shakespeare on the Platform competitions. Designed to help secondary school students develop language skills and expand their horizons, the competition explores the exciting world of Shakespeare. It brings together Public, Catholic and Independent schools in southern Ontario. The competition involves a larger number of students than those who actually take part in it because schools are encouraged to choose their representative by in-house contests. All of the participants are given prizes and certificates and the winners receive cash awards and trophies. Many students, teachers and principals have stated that their participation in the annual competitions has been of great benefit to their schools. For Branch members, the competition, which usually takes place in November, is a memorable and enjoyable demonstration of talent, enthusiasm and skill.
For more details and application information: Shakespeare on the Platform Competition.
Links to English Speaking Union International and ESU Canada websites: