Footprints Through Time

                        with Archivist Peter Bowman



The Tower Poetry Society
Is Born

The fifth edition of Tower was published in early November of 1956. Ryerson Press in Toronto had taken on the duties of this task under the guidance of Dr. Lorne Pierce, who had been appointed Honorary president of the Tower group. Around the same time a meeting was held in the Women's Common Room in the Alumni Building at McMaster University with eleven ladies present, presumably chaired by Ida Sutherland Groom. During this meeting, it was moved by Mrs. Marjorie Wilkinson and seconded by Mrs. Rosalynde Stearn that the group would henceforth be known as The Tower Poetry Society. This motion was carried unanimously. A second motion was then proposed and subsequently carried, that a committee be struck to draw up a constitution for the Society since it was thought to be rather "loose-knit up until now."

A letter written by Ida Sutherland Groom dated March 18, 1957 was sent to all contributors to the Tower:

You must have been expecting for some time to hear when our spring meeting was to be held and will be glad to know that at last Saturday, May 4th, has been fixed upon.

The meeting is to be in the Alumni Building of McMaster and the time 2:30 p.m. We earnestly hope that this will be a convenient date and place for all our members.

The chief item of business will be the presentation by our treasurer, Mrs. Clifford, of our account of sales and our financial position and there will be much to discuss regarding the future of The Tower.

May I ask that four poems be submitted by May 31st. This seems early but it is really necessary to avoid the delay of last year. The manuscript should be in the hands of the printers by the middle of June.

Would you kindly send the poems to me and I will see that they are handed to the Editorial Board.

Our Honourary Secretary Mrs. Jean McCallion joins with me in looking forward to a pleasurable social event as well as a business meeting.

Yours sincerely,

Ida Sutherland Groom

P.S. Would every member bring to the meeting a short poem which has been enjoyed recently. It is suggested that we read these aloud for the group to hear.

Two thank you letters arrived in the following weeks acknowledging receipt of this invitation and expressing an eagerness to attend, one from Mrs. Ruth Cleaves Hazelton of Niagara Falls and the other from Jessie L. Beattie of Fruitland, Ontario.

At that meeting the Constitution was read and accepted by the members with the notation it would be inaugurated for 1958. It read as follows:



1. NAME: The Society should be known as THE TOWER POETRY SOCIETY.

2. MEMBERSHIP: This Society which was founded by friends and associates of McMaster University is open to anyone interested in the promotion of the aims of the Society.

3. OBJECT: To promote particularly among people of the Niagara Peninsula an interest in the creation of poetry, and to publish The Tower.

4. OFFICERS: 1. Honorary President
(A man of letters chosen by the Society)
2. Past President
3. President
4. Vice-President
5. Secretary
6. Treasurer
7. Publicity Secretary

5. ELECTIONS: At the annual business meeting a slate of officers will be presented by the Nominating Committee, this committee to be chosen by the President and to include at least 2 members at large.

6. MEETINGS: A minimum of two meetings shall be held each year one being the annual business meeting to be held in March. These meetings may be open to the public at the discretion of the executive.

7. FEES: Members pay $5.00 per year, which fee is due at the March annual meeting. The payment of this fee entitles each member to three copies of The Tower of the current year including the right to submit poems to the Editorial Board for publication.

8. DONORS: Any donation received by The Tower Poetry Society will be used to further the aims of the Society and will be gratefully received.

9. EDITORIAL BOARD: Members of the Editorial Board are Mrs. G. C. Haddow and Miss Margaret Thomson.

10. DATE FOR SUBMISSION OF MANUSCRIPTS: Manuscripts must be in the hands of the Editorial Board not later than April 30th.

11. CHANGES IN THE CONSTITUTION: Any members wishing a change in the constitution shall submit the suggestion in writing to the executive at least two weeks before the annual meeting.

[We should note here that this is not the wording of the present Constitution. It has been revised several times during the history of the Tower Poetry Society.]

After the Constitution was read Mrs. Clifford, the Treasurer, gave a financial report declaring that the Tower Poetry Society as of that date held a bank balance of $32.00. Several ideas to stimulate more book sales followed before the meeting adjourned and everyone enjoyed tea.

Only a few days later on May 7th, Ida Sutherland Groom received this letter from Dr. Lorne Pierce on the usual Ryerson Press stationary:

Dear Miss Groom,

I am glad to know that you had such a successful and happy annual general meeting of The Tower group. I wonder if they realized how much the existence of the group and the publication of The Tower depended upon yourself. Anything I have done to assist you, or the periodical, has been very gladly done. It has been a most happy experience all the way through.

I shall be looking forward to the arrival of the new collection of poems around the middle of June. You will then let me know whether you wish me to make a final selection or not.

I am afraid that I have assumed far too much on the publication of The Tower. At any rate I shall do the best I can. As for the Foreword, I am not sure that I do it very well, but I shall be glad to try my hand at it once more.

I see no reason why The Tower group should not go on recruiting both professional members, the real poets, and associate members, people like Miss Pomeroy who have written a lot about poetry but have written no verse themselves. Miss Pomeroy could be a source of strength to you and is the sort of person who, if she became interested, would bring to your group a number of people of merit.

I am glad to know that you are not giving up for the present, the venture very much needs you.

With kindest personal regards.

Cordially yours, Lorne Pierce,

An ominous second line from a letter received earlier by Miss Groom from Ruth Cleaves Hazelton on May 3rd sends a foreboding message. "Sorry to hear that you will go back to England after a while, as I know The Tower activities will miss your kind and efficient offices, as I will."

To an astute reader of the archives that sentence might well signal the beginning of the end, but in actuality it was just the end of the beginning. The winter season that saw 1956 become 1957 was the birth of The Tower Poetry Society. It now had a name and a Constitution that gave it a permanence that lasts until this day.

Previous Essay

Archives INDEX