The Community Homophile Association of Toronto fonds is composed of organizational records that document CHAT’s governance and administration, its community outreach efforts, education, support services, political advocacy, and its resource library. It includes bylaws and minutes, financial stateme…
1.4m of textual records
38 photographs: 18 b&w print; 20 x 24cm or smaller.- 20 b&w negatives
2 audio reels: ¼” open reel tapes
3 rubber stamps
1.4m of textual records
Records are in good condition.
History / Biographical
Finding its roots in the University of Toronto Homophile Association, the Community Homophile Association of Toronto was officially established on January 3, 1971. Given the growing public interest in the UTHA, the need for a community organization outside of the University became apparent to members of the UTHA. On December 11, 1970, an inaugural meeting was held to officially establish the Community Homophile Association of Toronto. A steering committee of 15 members was appointed, with George Hislop as its Interim Director. CHAT’s first public meeting was held at the Holy Trinity Church in February 1971. A Board of Directors was elected on March 3, 1972, which included George Hislop, Patricia Murphy, Clive Bell, Kathleen Brindley and 6 general members. CHAT’s first meeting was attended by approximately 50 people. By 1972, the Association had 400 paid members, with 150 regular meeting attendees. CHAT’s first office was located at 6 Charles Street. The Association was incorporated in 1974.
CHAT’s work as a service community group centered around its “central plank to come out of the state of fear and apprehension which surrounds the public assertion of one’s rights of sexuality”, with a secondary aim to achieve equal civil rights to those of heterosexuals. CHAT’s work sought to provide support services, education, community events and political advocacy.
Soon after the Association was established, it received a Federal grant through the Opportunities for Youth Project. This grant of $9000 allowed the Association to provide in person counselling, a 24 hour distress line and legal, medical and psychiatric referrals to the public. Once these funds ran out, these services were maintained by CHAT volunteers. Soon after, CHAT applied for the Local Initiatives Program Grant which was rejected. The Association reapplied with letters of support from the Ontario Mental Hospital, the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry and other distress centres operating in Toronto, and was awarded a grant of $14,602 with extension. This grant was used to employ 8 staff members to restaff the distress centre and to work on educationals for schools and universities.
In addition to its support services, education and community events were central to the Association's operations. In its early days, CHAT held weekly general meetings at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, which would would involve discussion groups and guest speakers. In 1972, CHAT established Canada’s first gay community centre at 58 Cecil Street. Formerly a Jewish Synagogue and Chinese Catholic Community Centre, this space provided enough room for CHAT's offices, events and weekly or biweekly dances. The 58 Cecil Street Community Centre was the departure point for Toronto’s first Gay Pride Week in 1972.
CHAT community events took place on a regular basis, and included dances, coming out nights (for those who had recently come out), women’s nights and coffee sessions. A resource library was also established, which provided the public with reference material on a variety of subjects, and homophile and gay liberation groups from across North America.
Although CHAT’s efforts were largely focused on community education and support, it also was involved in political advocacy. CHAT submitted a number of briefs and lobbied the Provincial and Federal Governments on a variety of issues and existing legislation, which included the Immigration Act, the Criminal Code and the Ontario Human Rights Code. The Association was also involved in the National Gay Rights Coalition and National Gay Election Coalition. Additionally, CHAT played a role in organizing and co-sponsoring events and demonstrations in Toronto and Ottawa. These included Toronto’s first gay picnic at Hanlan’s Point in 1971, Toronto’s first annual Gay Pride Week in 1972, a rally of Canadian and American gay groups to the Ontario Legislature and at Parliament Hill.
In June 1973, CHAT's community space moved to 201 Church Street, while CHAT administrative and counselling offices relocated to 223 Church Street. In the fall of 1977 CHAT moved to a smaller office located at 19 St. Joseph Street due to declining membership and interest. CHAT disbanded at the end of 1977.
Scope and Content
The Community Homophile Association of Toronto fonds is composed of organizational records that document CHAT’s governance and administration, its community outreach efforts, education, support services, political advocacy, and its resource library. It includes bylaws and minutes, financial statements, grant applications, membership cards and applications, telephone logs, flyers, newsletters, briefs, correspondence, and resources collected on various subjects and homophile and gay liberation groups from across North America.
2- Outreach, Education and Events
3- CHAT Library and Resources
4- Political Advocacy
6- Objects and Audiovisual Material
Preferred Citation: Community Homophile Association of Toronto, F0133, The ArQuives, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
The collection is open to researchers. Personal information from the membership subseries (1.3) cannot be published, which includes the files listed below:
Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in writing from The ArQuives as the physical owner. Researchers must also obtain clearance from the holder(s) of any copyrights in the materials. Note that The ArQuives can grant copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold the copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other materials directly from the copyright holder(s).
The majority of binders, paperclips and staples were removed. Paper separators were added where necessary.
Records from the first accession of Community Homophile Association of Toronto records were processed by Paul Yee and Bob Krawczyk in the 1980s. This accession was reprocessed and finalized to include the second accession of CHAT by Ariana Ho to reflect a fonds in 2019. Original order was kept where possible.
The series contains records that document William Atkinson’s career with the Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Canadian Navy. It includes service records, correspondence, reports, naval messages, clippings, newsletters spanning from the beginning of the Second World War to 1960. It also includes a …
34cm of textual records
6 flags: 14.5cm x 21cm or smaller
1 armband: 36.5 x 11.5cm
Scope and Content
The series contains records that document William Atkinson’s career with the Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Canadian Navy. It includes service records, correspondence, reports, naval messages, clippings, newsletters spanning from the beginning of the Second World War to 1960. It also includes a transcript from the Foolscap oral history project that discusses Atkinson’s time with the Royal Canadian Navy. Also documented is Atkinson’s 1991 information request made to the National Archives of Canada under the Privacy Act. This request returned Atkinson’s service, medical, dental and performance records, but did not include records relating to the Canadian Naval Intelligence or RCMP investigation of Atkinson.
18 cm of textual material (3 oversized documents)
1 floppy disc
1 object [medal]
History / Biographical
Stewart Hamilton was born in Regina, Saskatchewan to Florence Hamilton (née Stuart; 1893-1983) and James Shire Hamilton (1897-1954). His mother was from North Dakota and worked as a nurse (she later remarried under the surname Twiss), and his father, James Shire Hamilton, was from Galt, Ontario, and worked as a corporate lawyer. They had five children: Peter, Dorothy, Douglas, Stewart and Patricia (Patsy). Stewart went to Davin Public Elementary School and attended and graduated high school at Regina Collegiate which later renamed Central Collegiate Institute. His first musical training was in the Lakeview Boys Choir in Regina, under the direction of Kay Hayworth. In 1943, his parents agreed to send him to piano lessons with Martha Somerville Allan. In 1946, when Hamilton's parents moved to Saskatoon, he decided to stay in Regina to continue his lessons, moving into an apartment with Mrs. Annie Hailstone, a dress-maker. Hamilton moved to Toronto in 1947 to join his sister Dorothy Marshall (née Hamilton), who was pursuing her own singing career. He began his piano performance studies at The Royal Conservatory of Music with the Chilean-Canadian composer, pianist, and teacher Alberto Guerrero. In 1948, to help support his studies, he worked as a uniformed usher at Eaton Auditorium, Canada's premier concert stage. This job allowed him to see many performances of The Eaton Auditorium concert series. He also coached singers on the side for twenty-five cents an hour. In 1950 he earned certification as an Associate of The Royal Conservatory of Music (ARCT).
Hamilton spent much of his time in the 1950s involved in the Toronto classical music scene. These seminal years laid much of the ground for his future career in Canadian music. He started frequenting performances and social events of The Royal Conservatory Opera (later known as the Canadian Opera Company) with Herman Geiger-Torel, Nicholas Goldschmidt, and Arnold Walter.
Hamilton accepted an offer from soprano June Kowalchuck, founder of Opera Hamilton, to become the chorus director, rehearsal pianist, and occasional conductor for the Royal Conservatory Opera School, which he held for five years. He accepted his first position as a voice teacher at the local Music Conservatory in Hamilton and spent the rest of his time in Toronto, coaching Elizabeth Benson Guy, Maureen Forrester, and Lois Marshall, as well as accompanying Greta Kraus's lieder classes.
In 1967, he took up a significant technical and musical challenge by accepting the role of pianist and singer in a production of Beyond the Fringe. The show was performed in Buffalo, New York for six weeks, in Toronto for six months, and he later toured across Eastern Canada. During afternoons and off days, Hamilton practiced for his New York City Town Hall piano recital. After a second New York recital in 1968, and a third one in London's Wigmore Hall in 1971, Hamilton decided not to further pursue a concert career and concentrated his efforts on the Toronto classical music scene.
In 1974, Hamilton initiated the annual Opera in Concert series at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in Toronto, acting as artistic director, producer, and accompanist. Hamilton was the first Music Director of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble and in 1981 he relinquished the position, to act as Lois Marshall's accompanist on her farewell recital tour.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Hamilton was in regular demand as an adjudicator for competitions such as the CBC Young Performers' Competition, Opera America Auditions, the Sullivan Foundation Awards, the Oralia Dominquez Competition (in Mexico), and the George London Foundation Awards
In 1984 he was made a member of the Order of Canada and in 1989 he won the Toronto Arts Award in the Performing Arts Category. In recognition of his significant contributions to performing arts in Canada, he received the Governor General’s Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada in 1992.
In 1981, he became the host of the opera quiz on the CBC's Saturday Afternoon at the Opera April–December broadcasts. From 1982-2007 Hamilton worked as the Quiz Master on CBC's weekly Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, as well as appearing regularly as a panelist, and occasionally guest quiz master, on the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts in New York City. Hamilton's last Opera Quiz for Saturday Afternoon at the Opera was in the fall of 2007.
In 2000, Opera Canada Magazine awarded him the first Ruby award and in 2004, he was awarded the Beckmesser Award from the Los Angeles Opera League. He received an honorary doctorate (honoris causa) in 2008 from Dalhousie University. Hamilton continued to teach opera repertoire and diction at the University of Toronto and maintained a full coaching schedule and devoted time to master classes across Canada.
His autobiography Opening Windows was published by Dundurn Press in the fall of 2012 and the same year he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Stewart died on January 1, 2017 after a battle with prostate cancer.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of records relating to the life and work of Stewart Hamilton, including correspondence, writing, press, diplomas and awards.
The fonds consists of records that pertain to the life and career of William Atkinson. It documents Atkinson’s early life and work in England prior to his enlistment with the Royal Navy at the outbreak of the Second World War. It contains records from his immigration to Canada, as well records rela…
95 cm of textual records
675 photographs: b&w and col. ; 36 x 27 cm or smaller
126 photographs: b&w and col. negatives ; 20 x 25 cm or smaller
6 flags: 14.5 x 21 cm or smaller
1 armband: 36.5 x 11.5cm
1 plaque: 18 x 23 x 0.5cm
History / Biographical
William Aktinson was born on February 26th, 1916 to William and Margaret Ethel Atkinson in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England. At the age of 14 Atkinson left school and took a job as an office-boy. At the age of 16, Atkinson joined the merchant service as an apprentice with F. Carrick & Co LTD of the Medensleigh Steamship Company. He was at sea for 4 years, during this time he completed his second mates foreign going certificate.
In October 1938, Atkinson began his service with the Royal Naval Reserve as a sub lieutenant. In 1942, Atkinson was appointed to commission and command the HMS “Manitoulin” which was being built in Ontario. He stayed in Canada for a year serving with the Royal Canadian Navy, until he was recalled to England for another command. While residing in Canada, he completed his Masters Foreign Going Certificate. In 1944, Atkinson applied for a transfer to the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve, which was rejected on the basis that he was not a Canadian citizen. In 1945, he was promoted to the rank of acting Lieutenant Commander with the Royal Navy. In 1946, Atkinson made a second request to transfer to the Royal Candian Navy Reserve, which was once again denied. It was recommended to him to reapply once he had officially immigrated to Canada. In 1947, Atkinson retired from the Royal Naval Reserve with the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
Atkinson immigrated to Canada in 1948 with hopes of joining the active list of the Royal Canadian Navy. He arrived in Montreal and presented himself before the Royal Canadian Navy authorities, but due to the decline of naval jobs during the postwar period, he was added to the retired list of the HMCS “York”. During this time, Atkinson was forced to seek out employment alternatives. Atkinson found job as a Night Manager of Childs Restaurant, located on 238 Yonge Street, Toronto. He supplemented his income by writing short stories for magazines, and delivered a 3 part broadcast entitled the “Emigrant’s Report” for the BBC Toronto Office. In March 1950, Atksinson left Childs Restaurant for the position of Resident Manager at the Glen Gordon Manor Inn in Blenheim, Ontario.
In 1951, Atkinson requested to be transferred to the RCNR’s active list through an application for a short service appointment. He was granted the role of Area Recruiting and Public Relations Officer for Western Ontario on the HMCS “Hunter”. This appointment was followed by a similar role in British Columbia on the HMCS “Discovery”. From 1954 to 1955, Atkinson completed the Junior Officer’s Technical and Leadership Course on the HMCS Stadacona, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was later appointed as First Lieutenant Commander of the HMCS “Quebec”. In 1956, Atkinson was dispatched to Vietnam and served as a Naval Advisor to the Canadian Delegation to the International Truce Commission.
In 1958, Atkinson returned to Canada, where he served as a Staff Officer in Ottawa. At this time, the Navy and the RCMP had begun its targeting of gay officers and recruits. After being subjected to RCMP and Canadian Naval Intelligence interrogations over the span of 10 months, Atkinson was given the option to be fired or to resign “voluntarily”. Atkinson submitted his resignation and was “Honourably Discharged” with the position of Lieutenant Commander in November 21, 1959. Atkinson would have qualified for a full pension on August 1, 1961, if he had been allowed to complete his ten years of service.
Following his forced resignation from the Royal Canadian Navy, Atkinson returned to the hospitality business. He managed a number of golf clubs in Quebec and Ontario. These clubs included the Kanawaki Golf Course, the York Downs Country Club, the Islington Golf Club, and the Brampton Golf Club. From 1961 to 1965, Atksinson owned a coin laundry service company called the “Coin Wash Limited”, located at 730 Charlevoix Street, Montreal. Atkinson spent a short period of time working at the Southern Palms Hotel located in Barbados from 1969 to 1970. He supplemented his income with acting and modelling which lasted until the 1990s, and was featured in commercials and shows, from a Bell Telephone Commercial, La Femme d’Aujourd’hui, Night Heat, and the Littlest Hobo.
Atkinson served as the President of the Sprucewood Court Condos located in Agincourt, Ontario, where he resided for over 15 years. In 1988, Atkinson moved to 19 Maple Street, Ajax, Ontario, where he lived until his death on January 17th, 2000.
Throughout his life, Atkinson had an interest in writing. From 1939 to 1946, he was enrolled in the London School of Journalism’s Short Stories’ Writer’s Program, which conducted its courses via correspondence. Atkinson submitted a number of works of fiction and non-fiction to various publications. This included a piece that was submitted to The Reader’s Digest and The Body Politic, that dealt with his interrogation and forced resignation from the Royal Canadian Navy.
In 1991, Atkinson made a request for his military personnel records from the National Archives of Canada under the Privacy Act. This search yielded a number files relating to his service, performance, medical, and dental records. However, the search did not result in any records from the RCMP or Canadian Naval Intelligence interrogations that pertained to his sexuality, which he was subjected to for 10 months.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of records that pertain to the life and career of William Atkinson. It documents Atkinson’s early life and work in England prior to his enlistment with the Royal Navy at the outbreak of the Second World War. It contains records from his immigration to Canada, as well records relating to his work in the restaurant and hospitality business upon his arrival. The fonds is also composed of records from his time with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) through the 1950s, and contains some material related to his forced retirement from the RCN on the basis of his sexual orientation. The fonds includes records from his return to the hospitality business, along with material from Atkinson’s writing and work in the entertainment business. The fonds is composed of correspondence, services records, certificates, photographs, press clippings, and short stories.