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University of Toronto

Dec 4th, 1906

Founding Date

Plans for Alpha Phi’s first international chapter were in the works at the 1906 Convention. In considering a petition for a charter from a local sorority the Alpha Phi Board invited two of the group’s members, Vera Lyon and Margaret Cole, to attend the Convention in New York City and meet the delegates. The women had formed Psi Delta in December 1902, and their later acquaintance with Edith Sechrist of Delta chapter proved invaluable. Edith assisted them in preparing their petition, and in December 1905, they presented it to the Board. When they returned home after the Convention, they assured their Psi Delta sisters that whether the charter would be granted or not, the “Alpha Phi girls were the kind they admired and wanted to be affiliated with.” 


“After several weeks of suspense, word came that our petition had been granted.” Departing from Syracuse on Monday, December 3, 1906, was a happy party of four Alpha chapter sisters: Mabel Lewis Cooper, Marion Diefendorf Condon, Agnes Kent, and newly-retired Quarterly editor, Martha Keefe Phillips. They were en route to Toronto and took with them “an altogether new sense of our importance.” For, they “were conscious that we were going somewhere to do something. You will appreciate our feeling when you know that it was our mission to inaugurate international Alpha Phi.” 


After arriving in Toronto—“After our luggage had been inspected—a new experience in the history of Alpha Phi installation functions”— they met the next morning, December 4, 1906, at Margaret Houston’s “pleasant home” on Madison Avenue, joined by Edith Sechrist and the eighteen women who would soon be initiated into Alpha Phi. From ten o’clock until three o’clock in the afternoon, the group was “absorbed in the initiation and formal installation of Xi Chapter,” keenly aware that they were making good on the “founders’ prophecy that one day we should join our forces to those of women in the universities of other countries.” The festivities surrounding such a momentous event included a reception at Queen’s Hall, the women’s dormitory at the university, where faculty members and the dean of women welcomed Alpha Phi members. They also enjoyed a shopping excursion, luncheon at the Teapot Inn, and a banquet. “What [is] more fitting than that within the borders of our nearest neighbor, Canada, we should find our first home outside the States?” Martha Keefe Phillips wrote in the Quarterly. “And now we have eighteen new Alpha Phi sisters [who are] the proud possessors of her badge.”