Diamonds are Forever

Wayne Jones and friends provide entertainment

By Nick Wilson

More than 100 toastmasters across three generations recently cheered The Y Club – Edmonton’s second-oldest Toastmasters Club – at its Diamond Jubilee celebration in the Radisson Hotel. Impromptu comedy from local improv troupe Die-Nasty on the night matched the quality of the Y Club’s impromptu speaking over the decades.

Despite the event’s size it was intimate.

Erin McCarty-Buijs, who attended with her dad, says, “It was lovely – everyone seemed really excited to be there.”

The event was dedicated to the memory of Tshitende Kasongo, ACS, who recently passed away and was serving as the Y Toastmasters Club Vice President of Education and the Diamond Anniversary Chairman. Tshitende’s family were honoured guests at the event. A tribute and moment of silence was given by Antonio Balce, a past president and member of the 60th anniversary committee.

Ron Chapman, a past president, who told the club history through an amazing speech, is living proof that a taste of toast can last a lifetime – he’s trying to form a seniors club where he lives.

The event meant different things to different people. To Erin, who recently joined Toastmasters in Beaumont, a town south of Edmonton, it meant connecting to her grandpa, Jim Bodman, the Y Club’s president 1965-66, Assistant Area Governor in 1968-1969 and area and district contest champion in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Erin, who has his 1970 Brother Opus 899 typewriter and over 100 letters, says, “He was just like me in that he could produce volumes of writing but wanted to throw up at the thought of speaking in public to people, so he took the initiative to remedy the issue.” She said in her Icebreaker speech at Beaumont only weeks before the Y Club anniversary, “I remember him as a quiet, extremely private man who barely said a word … I don’t really know this person, this version of him.” She says the evening made her appreciate why and how the Y Club had been played an important part in Jim’s life.

The Y Club – Then

The Y Club – Now

To the serial club founder Peter “Mr. Toast” Kossowan, it meant the satisfaction of seeing a club he worked with decades ago still flourishing. He and Erin’s grandpa were members of the Toastmasters “Flying Club” that parachuted into communities to help or form clubs.

He greeted Erin with “He’s the Moose Guy!” A keen hunter, Jim would always provide moose roast for sandwiches back at the hotel after drives out to satellite communities.

So why is the Y club still pulsing as strongly as all those decades ago?

Well, Mr. Toast, who has founded 171 clubs and counting, says the success of the Y Toastmaster Club can be explained in this “Simple” Formula:

S  –  service provided to the member                   

I   – Ideas / innovation                                           

M  – Mentorship                                                     

P  –  Persistence                                      

L  –  Learning

E  –  Enthusiasm/engaging                                       

“That my friend,” he says is the “simple” solution for longevity of a club.” He adds, “This club multiplied twelve fold its life expectancy – awesome!

The Y Club shows that things that sparkle as brightly as diamonds really are forever.

By |2018-04-24T12:33:22-06:00April 22nd, 2018|General|Comments Off on Diamonds are Forever

About the Author:

Michael Wilson is the Toastmasters District 99 Web Strategist. You can reach him on LinkedIn ( or email To submit a story, email
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