Commanderie du Canada:
The Commanderie du Canada was formally established in May 1991, when we received our charter from the Grand Conseil de France. At that time, there were only three Sous-Commanderies in Canada in Toronto, Vancouver, and Halifax, and each of them were affiliated with the Commanderie d’Amérique.
Prior to the establishment of Sous-Commanderies in Canada, Chevalier were inducted either at the Clos de Vougeot, or at various Sous-Commanderies in the United States. Currently we have seven Sous-Commanderies across Canada which are in the cities of Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax.
The Commanderie is the governing body of the seven Canadian Sous-Commanderies, and we all meet annually for three days to review past activities, plan for the coming year, and to review our policies and procedures. This Annual General Meeting is Called the Grand Conseil, which is considered the premier social event of the year. The Grand Pilier Général, as the president of the Commanderie du Canada, presides over the meeting.
Members of the Grand Conseil annually elect its Officers during the Grand Conseil. Each Sous-Commanderie is represented by their Grand Sénéchal who presents an annual report of the activities of their Sous-Commanderie and presents a financial and an operational report. Topics discussed at the Grand Conseil include, but are not limited to, issues related to the group’s membership and finances, wine purchase and storage, calendars of events, induction ceremonies, etc.
Each Sous-Commanderie has the opportunity to host a Grand Conseil in their home city.
The Grand Conseil de France delegates authority in Canada to the Grand Pilier Général who is its titular head, and leader of the Commanderie du Canada and its Sous-Commanderies. Our current Grand Pilier Général is a long-time member of the Ottawa Sous-Commanderie, Dr. Brendan Quinn.
The Grand Pilier Général is elected during a Grand Conseil, and serves for a term of three years. Each Sous-Commanderie elects a Grand Sénéchal at their annual Chapitre who serves for a five-year term. The Commanderie du Canada and its Sous-Commanderies are governed by a set of By-Laws.
Each Sous-Commanderie is managed by a Grand Sénéchal, who is also an elected member of the Commanderie’s Grand Conseil. Throughout the year, each Sous-Commanderie hosts special events for its members where the products of Burgundy are the featured attractions. Such events are luncheons, dinners, a Paulée, educational wine tastings, and the annual Chapitre.
Canadians who have an interest in becoming a Chevalier must be sponsored by two current members of a Sous-Commanderie, and be approved by the Grand Pilier Général. They must also be knowledgeable about Burgundy and its wines, and have a wine cellar containing burgundy. Applicants become Chevaliers once they have been inducted at an official ceremony called a Chapitre. These ceremonies are presided over by the Grand Pilier Général, and are held at each of the Sous-Commanderie’s annual Chapitre dinner.
Candidates must recite the official Oath of the Confrérie when inducted. Each new Chevalier receives a silver tasting cup, known as a Tastevin. The Tastevin is hung on a crimson and gold ribbon, and members wear it around their neck during events. We are all dedicated to improving our knowledge of Burgundy, its many regions and wines, and to encourage appreciation of the history, culture, and the traditions of Burgundy.
The Commanderie du Canada and each Sous-Commanderie has adopted a “zero tolerance” policy for operating a motor vehicle after its events. As such, it has included the following wording in the induction Oath that all new members must recite: “Above all do you swear to consume the magnificent products of Burgundy in a responsible manner and to never drive a vehicle away from any event of this noble order” The Canadian Commanderie has also adopted a policy wherein anybody not abiding by the “zero tolerance” policy will automatically lose their membership without compensation. Each year, all members must also sign a renewed “zero tolerance” policy form which includes acknowledgement of the consequences for non-compliance.
Each of our seven Sous-Commanderies are listed below with only the facts of when they were established and some information about their membership and activities. There is a full history with more details in the History section for each Sous-Commanderie’s section that is accessible to each member.
The first Sous-Commanderie in Canada was established in Toronto on January 15, 1977. The inaugural dinner was held at the Royal York Hotel with 13 charter members. Today they have a well aged cellar of fine burgundy wines, a membership of 53 Chevaliers and they hold 7 events per year.
The Sous-Commanderie de Vancouver was founded on December 16, 1982 over a lunch at the Terminal City Club that was enjoyed by 17 founding members. Today there are 42 members who attend 7 events a year including a summer garden luncheon in August, and our cellar contains 3800 bottles of liquid gold.
Halifax was next with an inaugural dinner on March 10, 1986 at the Sheraton Hotel where 19 burgundy enthusiasts were inducted. Today they have 40 members who meet to celebrate with dinners and wines from their aging cellar 5 times a year.
The Sous-Commanderie de Edmonton was officially established over a burgundy infused dinner on November 4, 1993, with a founding membership of 12. Now they have 23 Chevalier who mee 7 times a year for tastings and for dinners from their extensive burgundy cellar.
The Calgary Sous-Commanderie was founded on November 27, 1997. Several of their members had already been inducted in Edmonton and were members there before deciding that the commute was too much. Today they have 26 members who enjoy the best from their grand cellar at Calgary’s best restaurants 5 times a year.
Most of the Montreal group of burgundy devotees had been inducted at the Clos de Vougeot until they decided to become an official member of the Commanderie du Canada on April 8, 1999. Their first event as Canadian Sous-Commanderie was held at the La Maison du Gouverneur. Their current membership is 49 and they hold 4 dinners and tastings at Montreal’s fine restaurants.
The Sous-Commanderie de Ottawa was inaugurated on February 2006 and became the seventh Canadian Sous-Commanderie with 15 founding members. Today their membership has grown to 34 and they meet 6 times per year with the highlights of the year being the Chapitre and the Paulée.