The city of Vancouver has come a long way since 1892, and Terminal City Club has been there every step of
its journey. Originally named the Metropolitan Club, it was founded in October of 1892 by several ambitious
merchants, entrepreneurs and politicians. Today, Terminal City Club is Vancouver’s most prestigious social
and business club. For well over a century, the club has been a distinguished part of the city’s history, but
as with many success stories, achieving such rightly deserved accolades wasn’t immediate or without
In the 1880s, Vancouver was home to various logging camps located along the shores of Burrard Inlet, and was often regarded by upscale Victoria citizens as a trodden village strewn with saloons and sawmills. However, once Vancouver was selected as the location for the Canadian Pacific Railway’s western terminus, and after 1886’s devastating conflagration wiped out the area’s shanties and shacks, the city’s status began to rise along with its growing population. It wasn’t long before Vancouver became known as “Terminal City.”
According to the club’s historical commemoration book, Yesterday Today and Tomorrow: A History of Vancouver’s Terminal City Club by David Ricardo Williams, what started as a simple clubroom “where a few men got together casually to sit in deep thought over a chessboard or the less cerebral game of checkers” soon became Terminal City Club. Williams explains that the words “Terminal City” had “the ring of commerce,” and from shipping agents and marine engineers to towboat operators and custom brokers, the club was a “comfortable seclusion away from cramped offices or noisy docksides,” a place where “colleagues and newcomers could meet each other to discuss mutual needs.”
Due to legal matters that occurred between 1897 and 1899, the Metropolitan Club’s assets were transferred to a limited liability club called Terminal City Club Ltd., from which came the name Terminal City Club. The new name was directly associated with the Canadian Pacific Railway terminus, which is located only a short distance from the club’s premises.
Today, with 1,595 members to date and a recent $6-million renovation project, Terminal City Club still serves the same purpose its founding members wished to achieve: to exist as a community, “not an introverted one devoid of connections to the larger community about them,” writes Williams, “but a community which, because of the diversity and vigour of its members, could exert a strong and beneficial influence on the rapidly growing ‘Terminal City’ — Vancouver.”
Membership at Terminal City Club is renowned for its outstanding value. Directed toward business professionals and leaders of Vancouver’s downtown community, a club membership offers access to a vast and newly renovated fitness facility equipped with a 25-metre pool, squash courts, a billiard lounge, a reading room also known as the library and more recently as the “Business Centre” — now housing a permanent computer terminal — as well as 1892, the club’s prestigious restaurant, and Cuvée, the club’s own wine bar. In addition to all of the mentioned amenities, Terminal City Club also has its very own upscale, lavish 60-room hotel, available to members at an exclusive rate, as well as public guests.
Noni Bruyere, Terminal City Club’s director of sales and marketing, says, “As times have changed and evolved, so has the club.” More than a social outlet, explains Bruyere, Terminal City Club is almost like a member’s second or third home. “You know how Starbucks say it’s your third place?” asks Bruyere. “It’s that kind of idea.” And rightfully so, as with all the club has to offer, why would any member want to leave?
Easily regarded as a “one-stop shop” for a variety of needs, members are provided with an environment for social networking with fellow professionals in their field, fitness and leisure, as well as entertaining and dining either with clients or family and friends, all within the same location.
Manny Padda, a new member to Terminal City Club, decided to apply for a membership after visiting the establishment multiple times with clients. A senior client partner with global executive search firm PM Search Partners, Padda had looked at other clubs before joining Terminal City, ultimately deciding on the latter for a number of reasons. “It’s such a great ambiance here in Terminal City Club,” says Padda, “just the way the organization and the club is set up — essentially… everything you need [is] here, and the location is ideal in Vancouver. You’re in the heart of downtown, near the financial district. You can come in here, you can have client meetings, relax if you want in the reading room — there’s a computer there for you, magazines all set up.”
In addition to the services and amenities, Padda was impressed by the club’s staff, which he describes as “amazingly friendly” and one of the reasons he chose Terminal City as his club of choice. According to Padda, Terminal City Club has “some of the best staff I’ve ever seen anywhere in terms of customer service,” which only contributes to what he calls the club’s “entire package” appeal.
Visiting the club about four to fives times a week for various reasons, from client meetings to using the gym, Padda prefers to utilize the club space between meetings even though his office is only two blocks away. “If I’m within meetings of an hour or hour-and-a-half,” he says, “I sometimes don’t go back to the office; I just come here, and relax in the reading room… It’s almost like a second place versus the office.”
Not only is Terminal City Club valuable on a number of levels for Padda, it’s just as valuable — and beneficial — to his family and friends. Often bringing his wife to dine at 1892, Paddy has also brought his brother, brother-in-law and father-in-law for drinks at the bar and an enjoyable evening in the luxurious billiard room where coffee and desserts were enjoyed, along with a great game of pool.
When asked what Padda finds most valuable about his membership, he immediately responds “The environment.” As someone who works globally and is often travelling, he has visited many other clubs with clients and friends that he has found to be a bit too “prim and proper,” rendering the club atmosphere tense. Although Terminal City Club is nothing less than a proper establishment in the true sense of the word, “there’s not tension in the air,” Padda shares. “It’s very nice here.” Whether being approached by the head of the billiards club who has offered assistance and information, or the various members of guest services throughout the club who continuously offer him helpful direction, Padda concludes that Terminal City Club is “a great place to be. The people are friendly, the staff is amazing — it’s just a good place to be.”
The value of being a member of Terminal City Club is seemingly endless, and extends beyond its premises in the heart of the financial district in downtown Vancouver. With members having access to more than 160 private affiliate clubs worldwide, travelling members like Padda can enjoy the convenience of staying at a number of clubs while on business trips simply by having a TCC membership.
In addition to the club’s vast facilities, welcoming ambiance, gracious staff and affiliate clubs, Terminal City Club is host to an array of exciting events, enjoyed by its many members and guests. From an annual Father-Daughter Dinner, Halloween Weekend and “Aw Shucks, It’s Tuesday” oyster event, to monthly wine tastings, golf tournaments and a grand New Year’s Eve Gala, the list of events are endless, and never disappoint.
And just when it seems that Terminal City Club can’t possibly offer more, they do, and in the form of charitable causes. Of the number of charitable events and causes the club has been a part of, the annual Rona MS Bike Ride has been a substantial part of the club’s mandate for the past nine years, raising over $35,000 in pledge donations just last year. With donations supporting MS Society of Canada, the Ride takes place around the local Vancouver area and initially began with Terminal City Club’s bike team, the TC Titans. It has grown substantially since, and now includes club members. In addition, club managers and employees provide the Rona MS Bike Ride Finish Line BBQ with food donated by the hotel’s suppliers, and according to last year’s Philanthropy Report, have served more than 4,000 meals to date.
Terminal City Club is not just host to its own charitable events of choice either. Club CEO Michael Kaile shares that the club offers its vast space to members who are a part of a charitable cause and wish to hold a fundraising event. “Many of them have their own charitable interests,” says Kaile about TCC members, “so really, through them and with them we are able to work and assist with some of the events.” Perhaps the club’s willingness to lend its facilities to various members for their charitable events speaks further to the club’s overall priority as outlined by Kaile himself. “I think the priority is in the process of constantly redefining ourselves to make ourselves more and more relevant to today’s business group… our relevance to our members,” he says. “The reason they join, other than just for the health club… other than just for the restaurants, [is] for what they get out of it, and the value they perceive. [That] is what is going to make us successful.” Based on all there is to learn and experience with Terminal City Club, Kaile is absolutely right. But perhaps he is a bit too modest in his remark. Based on the grand successes it has already achieved thus far, there seems to be no stopping this high-speed club from maintaining its rightly deserved spot on the fast track to even greater success. •