Founding Mission: to “promote trade and commerce” and
“foster economic and social welfare of Toronto”
A historian’s view
TO SERVE THE COMMUNITY: THE STORY OF TORONTO’S BOARD OF
G. H. Stanford (University of Toronto Press, 1974)
An Act incorporating the Board of Trade of the City of Toronto was
passed by the legislature of Canada on 10 February 1845.
George Percival Ridout was the first President, an office he held
until 1852 when he was elected to the legislature.
In its Act of Incorporation, the Board's principal objectives
To promote and/or support such measures as, upon due
consideration, are deemed calculated to advance and render prosperous
the lawful trade and commerce and to foster the economic and social
welfare of the City of Toronto...
To advance in all lawful ways the commercial interests of the
members of the Corporation generally and to secure the advantages to be
obtained by mutual co-operation.
It was provided that... each and every person carrying on trade and
commerce of any kind, or being a Cashier, Manager or Director of any
Financial Institution, Railway or Insurance Company, shall be eligible
to become a member of the said Corporation.
Records of proceedings in the earliest days are few and the new body
did not at first appear to make much headway or public impression... By
1856 it had only acquired 60 members...The bulk of the work was left to
a few energetic members but those few proved dedicated and capable.
Until well into the 1860s most members of The Board were traders,
predominantly wholesalers. Few were native-born Canadians, the majority
having come to the new land to make their fortunes, and trade was the
way to wealth. ...They were concerned with maintaining the greatest
possible freedom of trade: the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States
was supported, much effort was expended in attempts to lower tariff
barriers and a recurrent theme was the establishment of better means of
transport and the elimination of restraints on the use of navigable