In 1898, a small group of Montrealers formed a society devoted to “the intellectual improvement of its members by means of speeches, essays and debates on social, political and literary subjects”. The meeting was held in the Church of St. James the Apostle, hence the name of the organization.
The St. James Literary Society is a non-profit group whose mandate is to provide a forum for the free exchange of ideas between participants and guest speakers. It is the oldest learned society in North America.
The logo was introduced in the 1900-1901 session and the motto Permitte Lucem (let there be light) was introduced. In 1915, it was decided that the Society “…disavows and disclaims any discrimination for racial or religious reasons”. This spirit of openness has endured ever since.
Over the years, the Society has attracted many distinguished guest speakers: Arthur Lismer, Stephen Leacock, Dr. Wilder Penfield, Dr. Phil Gold, F. Cyril James, Suzanne Fortier, Mordecai Richler, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, Lord Tweedsmuir, Sir Arthur Currie, Dean Charles Moyse, Gretta Chambers, to name a few.
Immediate Past President and Program Director: