Skip to content

About the Board

Our History: What's in a name?

Ahead of our Annual Lunch on June 13, the Board is highlighting its history of influence while remaining focused on tomorrow’s success. In a series of posts, we are delving into the Board’s rich history of aiding our members career and business growth, building the city region in which they work, and fostering the business conditions in which they succeed.

Throughout our history, the Board has reflected contemporary times while working towards a better future. From an evolving name and physical locations to the composition of our membership and member services, the Board has provided a place for members to convene and connect to facilitate the growth of their careers and their business.   

The branding of the Board has changed over the years, reflecting our member base, the growth of the region and our sphere of influence. In that change there was regular debate on who the Board represented and how it would be reflected in the name.

The Board of Trade of the City of Toronto was satisfactory for the first 100 plus years as Toronto grew by blocks and then by kilometres. But even back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, neither the Board’s interests nor the members were confined strictly to the limits of the city. Businesspeople outside the core in suburbs like Mimico and Don Mills had their immediate area as their first concern, but the Board thought a diluted business voice would benefit no one.

By 1958 the distinction had changed. Instead of differentiating between the suburbs and the City of Toronto it was between Toronto and the metro cities of Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke and East York. Even though these cities had their own Boards of Trade the Toronto Board changed its name to The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Toronto. This name lasted until the 1990’s when, with the amalgamation of the metro cities, the Board’s name reverted to more simply the Toronto Board of Trade, and it soon merged with all the metro Boards.

As always, the Toronto Board’s vision and focus was wider than just within its municipal boundary. In 2013 there was a renewed drive to again rebrand the Board in a broader context. The addition of “Region” to the Board’s name was announced during the 2013 Annual Dinner against the objections of some nearby cities and their business groups. These objections were shared with media during the dinner and with various city councils around the region. There was “a feeling that Toronto wants to take over.” Despite the controversy, the Board didn’t flinch and argued it was an important change which “simply reflects and recognizes that the Board’s membership is not bound by geography,” since more than 25 per cent of the Board's members at that time were outside Toronto. The change was also a demonstration that “in today’s global economy it’s city-regions competing against city-regions.”

The Board’s intent to include the region in its work continued and the controversy subsided when the Board with its peer organizations in the region created Canada’s Innovation Corridor Business Council as a forum for collaboration and cooperation. This spirit of collaboration was exemplified by the Board working with the region’s chambers to co-author policy resolutions for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and, even recently, by the attendance of the Mayor of Kitchener, representing the region’s key technology corridor, at a 2024 Annual Dinner Board-hosted VIP table.