Our First Commonwealth Reception

The British Canadian Chamber of Trade & Commerce in association with The Royal Commonwealth Society of Toronto hosted the first British Commonwealth Day celebration in Toronto at the Marché Restaurant in downtown Toronto on March 21.


Tom O’Carroll BCCTC’s Vice President Central opened the evening with words of greeting to an enthusiastic audience that included many members of the foreign consular staff serving in Toronto.

Fern Horine, Deputy Consul General, Director Trade at the British Consulate General Toronto reminded the audience of the scope and sweep of the British Commonwealth that includes 52 member countries representing nearly one third of the world’s population and 17 per cent of the world’s gross national product in purchasing power parity terms. The members, ranging from Antigua and Barbuda to the United Republic of Tanzania are scattered across Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific islands region.

Hanan El Khatib, consul general of Malta in Toronto noted that links between members are not merely those of trade and commerce but that include sharing a wide range social and cultural values as well. Malta’s Prime Minister is the currently serving as the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office.

Stephanie Garant-Jones Protocol Manager of the Invictus Games announced that the 2017 Invictus Games in which 550 ill, injured and wounded servicemen and women from 17 allied nations compete in 12 adaptive sports.  The events will take place in Toronto from September 23 to 30. She mentioned that Games were founded after Prince Harry, the Prince of Wales’ second son, attended the US Warrior Games. He wanted to launch a similar event in which those who served in Her Majesties forces could participate.


Annika Rinas, Guest Experience and Events Specialist with the Woodbine Entertainment Group wrapped up the speeches by highlighting another royal-family related occasion, the 158th running of the Queen’s Plate, a $1 million stakes race. It will take place on Sunday Day July 2 beginning at 11:00 am at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto.

As Canadians get ready to celebrate 150 year of Confederation on July 1, she pointed out that the Queen’s Plate has, in fact, been around longer than Canada.

The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) was founded in 1868 and received its Royal Charter in 1882 from Queen Victoria. Today, the RCS exists to provide a vibrant and valuable international network for its supporters all over the world, and here in Canada continues to educate, inform, improve the lives and prospects of Commonwealth citizens, foster human equality, and dignity and aim to achieve a more equitable international society. The RCS became increasingly progressive in the early decades of the twentieth century, admitting women as members from 1922, and encouraging a young and diverse membership. It was given its present name, the Royal Commonwealth Society, in 1958.

Commonwealth Reception pictures: