And the winner is…

and the winner is....

Marion West

Marion West strikes again, winning first place in the Club level Evaluation Contest.    Faced with an outstanding crowd of competitors:  Sharon Jenkins (second place), Peter West (third place), Jason French, Alonso Mendizabal, Mark Molder & Allan Osborne.   Congratulations to all for showing the audience how an evaluation is done.

Congratulations to first-time Chair, Samantha Tam who is now one project closer to completing her Competent Leadership Manual.  Thank you to Adrian Scott our Chief Judge who carefully explained the rules to our guests and members.  Adrian’s behind the scenes work as a Chief Judge was outstanding.

A big thank you to our guest speaker Zafar Siddiqui from Milton Toastmasters who delivered an engaging and inspiring speech.

What’s next?

Marion West (first place) & Sharon Jenkins (second place) will advance to represent our club at the upcoming Area 87 evaluation contest on February 21st, 2018.

The Area 87 contest will take place at the West End Studio Theatre, 1109 North Service Road East, Oakville, ON.

Doors open at 6pm, contest starts at 6:30pm.    For more information please see the Eventbrite link to register.

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EVALUATION CONTEST – January 25th 2018

One of the reasons Toastmasters is a great organization to harness and improve public speaking skills, is because of the feedback that our members receive.  The ability to give and receive constructive feedback is at the very core of what makes the toastmaster program such a successful one.

The Evaluation Contest provides growth for participants and guests alike.  Speakers benefit from proper evaluations by receiving immediate feedback, methods for improvement and receiving reassurance that builds and maintains self esteem.  Evaluators benefit when they practice their active listening skills and provide helpful evaluations.  These skills are transferable to the workplace and even at home.

Below is a link that explains the importance of evaluations and how to evaluate to motivate.

This coming Thursday, January 25th, the FOTM Evaluation contest will be chaired by First Oakville’s very own Samantha Tam. Several seasoned, as well as newer members of First Oakville Toastmasters will compete against each other as they evaluate a guest speaker. It is sure to be a night of great speaking and evaluating. The meeting will begin at 7:30 and the Knights of Columbus Hall in Oakville.   Toastmaster Marion West won last year, who will win this year? Join us to find out!



-Allan Osborne, VP Education, First Oakville Toastmasters Club #2245

John Ribeiro, DTM – Guest Speaker at our Open House – January 18th 2018

First Oakville Toastmasters OPEN HOUSE featuring guest speaker John Ribeiro, DTM.

First Oakville Toastmasters invites residents of Oakville and surrounding areas to its open house to watch special guest speaker, John Ribeiro, Co-Author of Zero2Hired speak about the importance of communication skills for today’s professional.

Do not miss this opportunity to hear about John Ribeiro’s Toastmaster journey.  Join us and see how Toastmasters can help you as it has helped so many others.

First Oakville Toastmasters provides a supportive and positive environment where members have the opportunity to develop their communication and leadership skills.  After hearing from special guest speaker, John Ribeiro, members and guests will enjoy a regular Toastmasters meeting that will include prepared speeches and evaluations, and Table Topics.

First Oakville Toastmasters meets on Thursdays.  Plan to arrive a bit earlier 7:15pm, meeting starts at 7:30pm at 1494 Wallace Road, Knights of Columbus, Oakville.

For more information about this event and the club, please visit our website:
Facebook Page:
or contact our VP Public Relations

About Toastmasters International

Toastmasters International is a worldwide nonprofit educational organization that empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., the organization’s membership exceeds 352,000 in more than 16,400 clubs in 141 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers, communicators, and leaders. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.

We’re going to the Charter Party!

First Oakville Toastmasters held its preliminary round of the club-level International Speech Contest last night!  It was a full house with many of our members supporting their fellow Toastmasters and also a number guests visiting.


From left to right:  Fei Sun, John Smissen, Samantha Tam, Cheryl Etherington, Allan Osborne, Rebecca Valero (Contest Chair) & Linda Rossi

The purpose of the contest is to provide an opportunity for speakers to improve their speaking abilities and to recognize the best as encouragement to all.

For our newer members and our guests, it is also an opportunity to learn by observing the more proficient speakers who have benefited from their Toastmasters training.

Finally, the speakers that placed in the Top 4 ranking will progress to compete at the Charter Party on Saturday, February 3rd, 2018.  In no particular order the winners are Fei Sun, John Smissen, Cheryl Ethrington & Allan Osborne.

The winner of the contest at the Charter Party will move on to represent First Oakville Toastmasters at the Area Contest on February 21st, 2018 at The West End Studio Theatre, 1109 North Service Road East, Oakville, ON.  Ticket Admission $10.00 (pre-registered) & $15 at the door (not pre-registered).    Doors open at 6pm and call to order at 6:30 pm SHARP.  Light snacks will be provided at the break.

This leaves me with one MAJOR question?  Do you have your Charter Party Tickets yet?  Tickets are still available for this wonderful night of dinner, dancing and of course the International Speech Contest.

A big THANK YOU to all our brave speakers and of course thank you to our contest officers who helped ensure that the contest ran smoothly.

See you at the Charter Party!

First Oakville Toastmasters 61st Anniversary Charter Party

On August 8th, 1956, Mr C. G. Green requested an authorization to organize a Toastmasters club, the first in the town of Oakville, Ontario, Canada.  Meetings were held at 6:45 p.m on Wednesday’s at the Motor City Hotel which was our very first meeting location.

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Oakville Toastmasters first meeting location in 1956

On February 1st, 1957 Toastmaster Club #2245 was officially chartered with 23 Charter Members.

The Charter Officers were:
S. Ditchfield – Club President
C. G. Green – Educational Vice President
J. Bedford – Administrative Vice President
S. A. Wince- Secretary
A. J. Fish – Treasurer
F. V. G. Drowley Sgt. – At- Arms

Our club chartered under the name, “Oakville Toastmasters” and that was our club name for 35+ years.  We became First Oakville at the behest of other Oakville clubs in recognition of us being the first club in Oakville and because we either sponsored or supported the other new clubs in town.   The name Oakville Toastmasters continues to be a significant part of our club history and is synonymous with our club name, history and culture.  Our Oakville Toastmaster banner continues to be displayed every Thursday.

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Toastmaster John Smissen Chairing our Remembrance Day meeting November 9, 2017

As the current Club President of First Oakville Toastmasters (Oakville Toastmasters), it is an honour to be the Chair of the 2018 Charter Party.  Thanks to a long line of organized and meticulous Club Secretaries, I have had the privilege of learning about our history by reading our Executive and Business Meeting minutes.


Oakville Toastmaster Committee Minutes from Sunday, December 1st, 1968

The tradition of holding a Charter Party started in 1958.  In fact, in 1962 it was held on March 3rd and tickets were $12.00 per couple which included a meal and a live band was hired.  ( and it only cost $75.00!!!)  The club held the Speech Contest eliminations at the regular club meeting and the finalist competed at the Charter Party.  ( This tradition continues to date)  At the time we held Table topics and a formal Speech contest on this very night.  In the minutes there was a mention of hiring a Barber Shop Choir for the evening.

As early as 1970, Oakville Toastmasters was already looking into running Youth Leadership programs and already had a formal Mentor Program established.  A tradition that continues to this day.

Throughout the years there were various different committees and some that do not exist today but deserve a mention.

Phone Committee:   They would be in charge of calling members with meeting information such as role changes, upcoming events, meeting attendance confirmation and outreach with potential members, and communication with former members.

TV Program Committee:  Toastmasters ran a 13 week series about the program on Channel 9.  It started in January 1962.  Every club was sent a script by mail.  Two clubs each week were called upon to rewrite the script and be ready to go on T.V. with it.

Press Release Committee:  Three members of the club took turns writing a press release immediately after the meeting.  Using a Polaroid camera they were able to submit the Press Release along with a photo of the meeting to the paper the following day.  This was done every week to promote the club and encourage growth.

Dinner Meeting Committee:   In the early 1970s, Oakville Toastmasters started hosting bi-weekly dinner meetings.  The meal would cost approximately $2.95 per person.

While the executive roles have changed over the years along with meeting locations and committees have evolved to meet the current needs of the club, one thing remains the same, and that is that First Oakville Toastmasters (Oakville Toastmasters) is a group of fun-loving, professional individuals from diverse backgrounds who take the Toastmasters educational program and our growth seriously.  We have been supporting and developing each other for over 60 years with deep respect for the Toastmaster core values which are integrity, respect, service & excellence.  We continue this tradition every Thursday from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm because, We Are First Oakville Toastmasters, We Are Oakville Toastmasters.

This year we continue the tradition of celebrating our rich history, and so it is an honour to cordially invite you to celebrate First Oakville Toastmaster’s 61st Anniversary Charter Party on the 3rd of February, 2018.  Doors open at 6pm, call to order 6:50pm led by a traditional piper.  Our celebrations will take place at the stunning Bronte Harbour Banquet Centre, 2340 Ontario Street, Oakville, ON.

Tickets are $60.00 per person and include a three-course meal, International Speech Contest, Door Prizes, DJ & Entertainment

Please RSVP with menu choices and dietary restrictions to Rebecca Valero, Club President at

Formal invitations to follow! (2)

Formal invitations to follow! (3)

See you there!


Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

It’s that time of year again, the trees have gone up, lines at stores are a little bit longer, and radio stations are playing Christmas music, literally 24\7.

Christmas time is officially upon us.  However, it wouldn’t be Christmas without our First Oakville Toastmasters Christmas Party.


Last Thursday First Oakville Toastmasters brought their Christmas Cheer to O’Finns Irish Temper and it was definitely not a Silent Night.  It was a Christmas Party of epic proportions full of reindeer games, Table Topics, door prizes, a delicious 3 course meal and of course of a visit from the man himself, SANTA CLAUS.  We also collected food items to donate to a local food bank.

A big thank you to the 2017 Christmas Party Committee:

Cheryl Etherington, Linda Rossi, Alonso Mendizabal, Rebecca Valero, Tanouja Rama, John Smissen and of course our Chair, Eric Bastien.  Congratulations on a festive event.

Many thanks to Peter West for documenting our Christmas Cheer.  He managed to capture all the excitement and left us wishing we could do it all over again.  Be sure to check out the pictures here.

First Oakville Toastmasters is a group of fun-loving, professional individuals from diverse backgrounds who take the Toastmasters educational program and our growth seriously.  We have been supporting and developing each other for over 60 years and as you can see, we have a holly jolly great time while doing it!

Our regular meetings will resume on January 4th, 2017 at the Knights of Columbus Hall 1494 Wallace Road.  Until then, have yourself a Merry Christmas.




Photo credits:  Peter West







Everything Is In Our Favour

There’s a wonderful article in today’s National Post about a 33-year-old rancher from Alberta who led one of the last great calvary charges at the Battle of Cambria in WW I.strachan-h

After assuming command of the Fort Garry Horse upon the death of the troop’s captain Lieutenant Harcus Strachan led his mounted B Squadron, swords drawn, toward a German artillery post.strachan-at-head-of-fgh-copy1

Successful in their endeavour, their bravery left them “utterly alone” kilometres behind enemy lines with only 50 men out of an original complement of 133 fit to fight. Strachan found not a horse left unwounded so he gathered his men and said:

“Everything is in our favour!”

Returning with his men on foot to friendly territory Strachan would be later be awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery. In the months to follow a new weapon of war, the armoured tank, would replace the calvary of previous wars and warfare would be changed forever.

So what does an archaic wild calvary charge, one of the last of World War I, have to do with giving a speech in Toastmasters?

Ask yourself this:

When you’ve completed your speech what are the first thoughts that go through your head? What do you tell yourself? Are you optimistic and excited?

Do you say something like that was great – I did it – I learned so much?

Or do you do, as so many do, immediately start to pick apart your speech searching for every little flaw? Do you say to yourself that your speech was a failure? Do you agonize over every little slip?

This hyper-critical thinking is epidemic in society today. It sniffles creativity and makes giving a speech an experience to be dreaded.

This is not the way Toastmasters works.

After you give your next speech tell yourself that you did a great job. If you’re not up to giving yourself praise then go find your mentor and let them do it for you.

Remember all the little things you think went wrong likely weren’t even noticed by your audience. The stuff you think needs fixing will fix itself over time as you continue speaking. There’s no need to be harsh with yourself.

Everything is not lost.

Remember the Alberta rancher who went faced with insurmountable odds turned to his men and reassured them that all was going to end well….and it did.

Be optimistic. Be unafraid. Keep calm and keep speaking!