History of the Chamber

The first Chamber of Commerce was created in Marseilles, France in the early 1600s. In Canada, Chambers pre-date Confederation with the Halifax Board of Trade opening its doors in 1750. The first American Chamber started in 1770 in New York City.

Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade are the most effective grassroots business association in the country. With 550 Chambers in Canada and 250 here in Ontario, every Federal and Provincial riding has a local Chamber of Commerce. That means all politicians, whether federal, provincial, regional or local, have a local Chamber to liaise with and answer to for business issues.

The Burlington Chamber of Commerce has been part of the community since 1947.  Our history of community and business involvement started that same year as we created the Burlington Teen Tour Band. The table below marks the highlights of the history of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce.



Burlington Chamber Chronology

The 2010s

2010clement mackan 120

  • Chamber hosts Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement for business consultation session
  • Jamie Cunningham becomes Board Chairocc award 2010 120
  • Chamber wins OCC Chairs award for Economic Uncertainty Seminar Series (2009)
  • Chamber launches HST Workshops to help members manage the transition to Harmonized Sales Tax
  • Chamber surveys members on JBMH expansion funding and presents written delegation to city
  • Chamber launches YouTube, Facebook and Twitter pages
  • Chamber hosts special Luncheon with General Rick Hillierevenden hillier 120
  • Chamber submits Legislative Process resolution to OCC
  • Chamber hosts Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt for business consultation session


  • Chamber becomes accredited
  • Chamber hosts Provincial Revenue Minister Sophia   Aggelonitis for business consultation sessionaggelonitis cunningham 120
  • Chamber submits Niagara to GTA resolution to OCC
  • Chamber submits Workplace Mental Health resolution to OCC
  • Chamber submits 2011 Budget Increase letter to City
  • Chamber submits Surplus & JBMH letter to Cityaccreditation 250
  • Chamber submits Infrastructure Policy letter to City
  • Tamer Fahmi becomes Board Chair
  • Chamber submits Strategic Plan Priorities letter to City
  • Chamber wins OCC Chair's Award for 2010 HST Seminar Series
  • Chamber becomes Accredited


  • Chamber hosts Business Consultation with Health Critic Hedy Fry MP
  • Philip Evenden becomes Board Chair
  • Chamber launches HR Roundtable
  • Chamber hosts business consultation with Minister of State for Finance Ted Menzies MP
  • Chamber submits joint policy on development charges
  • Chamber hosts special roundtable meeting on Employments lands
  • Chamber’s Fair Tax for Small Business resolution is adopted by the CCC
  • Chamber hosts Business Consultation with Energy Critic Vic Fedeli MPP
  • Chamber host trip to China with 80 travellers
  • Chamber becomes Accredited with Distinction


  • Chamber host pre-budget consultation with Hon Tony Clement & Hon Lisa Raitt
  • Shelley McQuade becomes Board Chair
  • Chamber host business Consultation with Metrolinx
  • Chamber’s Improving the Regulatory Model resolution is adopted by the OCC
  • Chamber wins OCC Advocacy award for economic development work
The 2000s

2000annivphoto review2001

  • Doug Goodrow becomes President
  • Chamber REVIEW magazine wins ACCE award
  • Chamber membership hits 1,000 for the first time
  • Chamber holds first Small Business Christmas Party


  • Bruce McDougall becomes President
  • Chamber membership hits a then record of 1,027


  • Bill Willson becomes President
  • Chamber hosts Ontario Chamber Convention


  • Diana Tuszynski becomes President
  • Chamber becomes part of Team Burlington
  • Chamber wins OCC Chair's Award for Team Burlington concept
  • Chamber relocates from Harvester Road to 414 Locust Street


  • Penny MacKenzie becomes President
  • Keith Hoey joins as Executive Director
  • A record number of new members (204) join
  • Chamber hosts final Corporate Challenge
  • Bud Gordon and Carolyn Williamson become life members
  • Chamber staff increases to six


  • Title of senior volunteer changes from President to Board Chair and Executive Director title changes to?President
  • Richard Burgess becomes Board Chair
  • Chamber establishes Endowment Fund to support Business Student Scholarship program
  • Chamber receives a record 67 nominations for Business Excellence Awards
  • Business Awards Gala sees record attendance of 450
  • Past President's Council is created
  • Business Before 9 networking events increased to 12 per year
  • Chamber submits (jointly with the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber) Doctor Shortage resolution to OCC


  • John Doyle becomes Board Chairjohn keith ccc award 150
  • Chamber re-launches Curling Bonspiel as a winter networking event
  • Chamber wins Canadian Chamber gold medal for best communications project
  • Chamber submits Health Care Funding resolution to OCC
  • Chamber submits New Highway Construction resolution to OCC
  • Chamber dedicates bench to outgoing Mayor Rob MacIsaac


  • Rosalene Phillips becomes Board Chair
  • Chamber celebrates 60th anniversary
  • Chamber hosts Federal Auditor General Sheila Fraser for luncheon eventfraser anim 400
  • Chamber submits Security of Electricity Supply resolution to OCC
  • Chamber submits Interest Deductibility Uncertainty resolution to CCC
  • Chamber website sees a record 40,000 unique visitors in one month
  • Chamber hosts Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty for luncheon event
  • Business Student Scholarship Fund reaches $100,000


  • Janet Whitehouse becomes Board Chair
  • Chamber surveys members and delivers policy statement on Performing Arts Centre
  • Chamber submits development charges policy recommendation to Halton Region Audit & Finance Committee
  • Chamber submits delegation to city council on McMaster University
  • Chamber membership tops 1100 for the first time ever and reaches an all-time high of 1105 companies
  • Chamber writes to MP urging politicians to focus on consumer confidence during economic crisis
  • Chamber hosts first annual Restaurant Showcase


  • Chamber launches Economic Uncertainty Seminar Series to help members during recessionjanet francis garneau 110
  • Francis Mackan becomes Board Chair
  • Chamber hosts Mark Garneau for business consultation session
  • Chamber issues Infrastructure Policy Recommendation to City of Burlington
  • Chamber hosts Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty for business consultation session
  • Chamber hosts federal Finance Critic John McCallum for business consultation session
  • Chamber creates Young Professional Networkwilkinson 110
  • Chamber hosts Ontario Revenue Minister John Wilkinson to discuss Harmonized Sales Tax
  • Chamber presents joint delegation with BEDC to city on JBMH expansion
  • Chamber hosts a record 84 events
The 1990s

1990annivphoto itabashi 450

  • Gordon Germann becomes President
  • Chamber holds first Financial Focus show
  • Chamber submits Employers Health Tax resolution to OCC
  • Chamber submits Fiscal Responsibility resolution to OCC


  • Patrick Cain becomes President
  • Chamber submits Election Eligibility resolution to OCC


  • Scott McCammon becomes President
  • Chamber submits Health Care Costs resolution to OCC


  • Rick Kington becomes President
  • Scott McCammon joins as Executive Director
  • Chamber hosts representatives from Itabashi Chamber of Commerce
  • Chamber membership hits 900
  • Chamber submits Free Trade resolution to CCC


  • Jim Barr becomes President
  • Chamber moves within the Harvester Road office to expanded offices
  • Chamber makes submission to Royal Commission on Learning


  • Randy Pickard becomes President
  • Chamber launches Golf After 5 networking event


  • Stan Lang becomes President
  • Chamber updates its vision statement to "Be the focus for business in Burlington"   

1997     annivphoto 50annivseal 100

  • Deb Tymstra becomes President
  • Chamber celebrates 50th anniversary
  • Chamber and Teen Tour Band jointly issue 50th anniversary coin   


  • Carolyn Williamson becomes Presidentannivphoto businessforum1 200
  • Board of Directors reduced to 11 members from 15
  • Executive Committee renamed Executive Council
  • Business Before 9 launched as a quarterly networking event
  • Business After 5 networking events increased to 12 times per year
  • Chamber launches Business Forum series -- inaugural event has Mayor MacIsaac as the speaker


  • John Watson becomes President
  • Chamber launches CFO and Operations Roundtables
The 1980s

1980annivphoto fishhut 450w

  • Rodger Cooper becomes President
  • Chamber office moves to 1340 Lakeshore Road (Spencer Smith Park)
  • Chamber staff increases to four


  • Bob Barker becomes President


  • Don Enns becomes President
  • Lydia Jones joins as General Manager
  • Chamber membership hits 700 (Boart Canada is recognized as the 700th member)annivphoto computerfair 450


  • Ron Pink becomes President
  • Chamber launches Computer and Office Automation Show
  • Chamber submits Pooling of C&I Assessment resolution to OCC


  • Arnold Emmott becomes Presidentannivphoto careerday2
  • Chamber launches Career Day at General Brock High School


  • Jamie Edwards becomes President
  • Chamber office moves from Spencer Smith Park to Harvester Road
  • Chamber submits Wrongful Dismissal resolution to OCC


  • Elaine Jones becomes first woman President
  • Chamber presents first Export Merit Awardannivphoto takingcare2 417
  • Chamber begins hosting cable TV program "Taking Care of Business"
  • Chamber submits Taxation Policy resolution to CCC
  • Chamber submits Environmental Protection Act resolution to OCC
  • Chamber submits Rent Controls resolution to OCC
  • Chamber staff increases to five
  • As early as 1986 the Chamber hosted "Breakfast with the Mayor" at which time the Mayor declared "Chamber of Commerce Week".  This event evolved into the Annual Mayor's State of the City Address.

1987     annivphoto corpchal 1987 2 copy

  • Bruce Magwood becomes President
  • Chamber presents first Business Achievement Awards
  • Chamber hosts first Burlington Corporate Challenge
  • Chamber submits Corporations Tax Act resolution to OCC
  • Chamber submits Pay Equity resolution to OCC


  • Dave Coons becomes President
  • Chamber co-produces "Burlington: An Illustrated History"
  • Chamber establishes Education Award for each Burlington high school
  • Chamber hosts 'final' annual curling bonspiel (the bonspiel is later re-launched in 2006)
  • Chamber hosts Ambassador Tour for invited consular and bank officials
  • Chamber helps to found Halton Crimestoppers
  • Chamber submits Education & Business resolution to OCC
  • Chamber submits Separation of Garbage resolution to OCC
  • Chamber submits Sunday Store Hours resolution to OCC


  • Cheryl Craig becomes President
  • Chamber takes part in city twinning ceremony in Itabashi, Japan
  • Minister of Finance, Michael Wilson, addresses Chamber semi-annual meeting
  • Chamber submits Legislative Review Project resolution to OCC
  • Chamber receives Ontario Chamber President's Award for its Ambassador tour (1988)
  • Chamber works with other Halton Chambers and school boards to establish the Halton Industry Education Council
The 1970s


  • Robert James becomes President
  • Chamber office moves to 440 Elizabeth Street


  • William Kennedy becomes President
  • Chamber (in cooperation with Town of Burlington) establishes Information Burlington


  • Bud Gordon becomes President (Bud Gordon was named a life member of the Burlington Chamber in 2004)


  • Fred Schwenger becomes President
  • Ebbe Marquardsen joins as General Manager


  • Don Crossley becomes President
  • Chamber updates mayor's chain of office to reflect new city status as the city is incorporated


  • Ed Pichora becomes President
  • Chamber membership hits 455
  • Chamber receives Ontario Chamber award for membership growth


  • Joseph Wallner becomes President
  • Brent Hamre joins as Chamber Manager


  • Jim Bridle becomes President
  • Chamber hosts the first Past President's Golf Tournament
  • Chamber's 'double-B' logo appears for the first time on the membership directory

1978     Annivphoto review1978 450

  • David Crisp becomes President
  • Chamber begins publishing the REVIEW, the first magazine format publication 


  • Bill Stevens becomes President
  • Prime Minster Joe Clark is a guest speaker at a Chamber event               annivphoto joe clark 433
  • David Job joins as Chamber Manager
The 1960s


  • George Grummett becomes President


  • W. A. Elliott becomes President


  • Doug Davidson becomes President
  • Chamber publishes its own newspaper "Chamber News" annivphoto chambernews 450


  • William Nieberg becomes President


  • Roy Nicholson becomes President for two years


  • Chamber membership hits 200
  • Leo Podetz joins the Chamber as Secretary-Manager
  • Chamber office has a staff of one


  • Vern Wright becomes President for two years
  • Chamber office adds a second phone line


  • Chamber launches "Burlington Bulletin"
  • Chamber office is located at 672 Brant Street (the Brant Arts Building)


  • Jim Parker becomes President


  • Don Green becomes President
  • Snack Bar from Mountainside Park becomes seasonal Tourist Information Booth operated by the Chamber in Mohawk Canoe Club parking lot (now Spencer Smith Park)
The 1950s


  • Cecil Millward becomes President


  • Ted Lucas becomes President for two years


  • F. E. Ellerbeck becomes President for two years


  • G. Doug Woolley becomes President


  • George Haswell becomes President
  • Chamber expands to include Nelson and is incorporated under the Boards of Trade act as the Burlington-Nelson Chamber of Commerceannivphoto burlnelson 450
  • 1956 - This is the original certificate of formation of the Chamber.  Although the Chamber was created in 1947, it was not until 1956 that the Chamber was incorporated under the Boards of Trade Act as the Burlington-Nelson Chamber of Commerce.  Two years later the name was changed to the Burlington Chamber of Commerce.


  • Denis Shrive becomes President


  • Cliff Biggs becomes President for two years
  • Name changes to Burlington Chamber of Commerce
  • Chamber presents Mayor John Lockhart with the official chain of office


The 1940s


  • Burlington Chamber is created by a group of local businessmenannivphoto blair 100
  • Former Mayor J. Gordon Blair is named as first President
  • Chamber provides startup funding for Teen Tour Band (originally called the Burlington District Girls and Boys Community Band)


  • George Harris becomes President for two years