Canadian Club of NZ - History

My recollections of the early days of the Canadian Club in New Zealand by Sandy Schade, founder of the Canadian Club of NZ at the 40th anniversary of the club in 2022

40 years does sounds like a long time though, doesn’t it? I’d like to take you back to a time when the internet was not a familiar word! There are probably some adults here who aren’t yet 40; and had no idea that you would ever leave Canada - and a longer time ago I was one of those people.

My journey started when I met my soon-to-be kiwi husband in Canada and he was ALWAYS coming home. I was young and hadn’t really been very far - except within Canada - and considered it a great adventure. Sadly, Graeme is no longer living, or he would share with us tonight. I thank Ian for his support these last 12 years and I still hope he will learn to enjoy turkey and pumpkin pie!

Moving right along, I settled in Auckland and had a son. This son now a grown man with a family of his own, but at that time he was starting school. I had met a few fellow Canadians at this point, and we talked about celebrating all things Canadian. I decided that we needed a Club for Canadians, after all the Americans had one!

So there was no social media to contact people. A fax machine was a new invention. The Postal Service was still operating successfully! I put ads in the free section of the newspaper, I put ads on the free community notices on the radio. This included my name and home phone number - something I would never do today. We had landlines only and most Canadians only wanted to talk to me at my family’s meal time!

Our first event was sponsored by Terry Buckley who owned The Keg Restaurant in Epsom and Steve Rice of Air Canada. Terry provided the venue and all the food on a Sunday afternoon when his restaurant was not normally open to the public. So we had it all to ourselves. We had a tremendous turnout. It was a good time for us all.

That got us started and we had a Halloween Party that year and a Thanksgiving dinner the following year. All of which we self-catered. We had picnics at Long Bay in the summer where we organised presents for the children and competitions for prizes, lolly scrambles and all sorts of unPC things. We had several Pancake Breakfasts on the lawn at Betty & Graham North’s home in St Heliers. We went to the homes of several Club members for summer picnics. We played softball against the Americans - and someone - I wish I could remember who - made the Trophy we still use today.

I felt like I’d really accomplished something. I’d organised, set up, cleaned up and generally worn myself out in the name of celebrating things Canadian.

I must admit there was a gap when I wasn’t really involved with the Club but others carried it on. And that pleased me so much more that others shared my wish to celebrate the things I remembered from my formative years in Canada.

I did attend two of the High School reunions and I didn’t regret leaving the small town of Chilliwack, B.C. for my life in Auckland. Quite telling really.

Over the years we had contact with several companies who dealt with things Canadian. I contacted Seagrams who sold Crown Royal and Seagrams VO Whiskey for sponsorship - they gave us cases of whiskey to use as prizes. The catch was I had to go on a Friday night and collect it – and drink in the boardroom with the executives. History and working in a corporate environment have taught me that they wanted a young woman to come and join their all-male Friday Night Drinks. We didn’t worry too much about driving home afterwards in those days – shameful really!!

We wrote and posted newsletters to members - and had a telephone tree – maybe that’s something that some of you have never heard of. I would phone 5 people and we would share the news of what was happening and they would each phone 5 more people and soon our pyramid selling was underway – just kidding!

Needless to say, my persistence paid off. Other people shared my dream and our club is a reality. We have enjoyed many exciting and fun events. We organised for sporting events like curling, hockey, softball and many Canadian celebrations.

I believe we can credit the Club’s financial nest egg to the committee who worked really hard at the time of the Commonwealth Games in Auckland. They fund raised and organised support for the Canadian competitors. It has been tasked to future Club members to maintain the nest egg and to use it as a base to organise all the future events.

We have had so many gatherings over the years and have had support from our Trade Commissioners and all the Consular staff.

I hope the Canadian Women’s Rugby team is getting moral support from Canadians living here. As with any other competitors and performers who come to New Zealand.

It would be a full-time role to do all the things we hoped would happen with the club.

Now that we have social media, I find it interesting to see the foods people miss. I have to admit to missing Cheez Whiz – if you remember it was awful stuff! I enjoy many foods that Martha’s Backyard brings to Auckland – But some are just not the same!! I wonder if Costco will fill the gap?

I’ve been asked by Kiwis why our Thanksgiving is at a different time to the American one in November! It seems amazing to me that I’ve had to remind them that we are a different country - winter comes earlier - and we harvest earlier. So we celebrate the abundance earlier. Happy Thanksgiving all!

I am very proud that my fellow Canadians living in New Zealand that have contributed to keeping this club going.

I believe there are thousands of Canadians living here and my wish is that we could mobilise them to join together and support our club. Maybe it’s the fact that we work really hard to fit in and it’s hard to then become the person we were when we lived in Canada,

Believe me as time goes, by our accents remain and we are always just outside the circle. So let’s be proud Canadians!

Sandy Schade