Commission on the Union Club, Elks Club, Eureka Club, Chess Club, Playgoers Club and Railway Porters' Club
In 1905 a commission was established to investigate the activities of various clubs, the City of Vancouver alleging that the clubs were not carrying out "any objects contemplated by the Benevolent Societies Act or Charitable Associations Act, but are being conducted in a manner adverse to the intention of the said statutes."
In his report of September 29, 1905, Hugh Archibald MacLean had the following to say about the Vancouver Chess Club:
"This Club was incorporated under the Benevolent Societies Act in September, 1901. Notice of the incorporation appears in the Gazette of the 19th of September 1901. The objects of the association were stated to be to promote social intercourse, rational recreation and good fellowship among the members.
According to the evidence of Mr. Sass, who has been secretary of this Club since it was first organized, the Club has been practically out of existence for a year and a half. On the 13th of June, 1905, thirteen men were convicted, in the Vancouver Police Court, of gambling in the Chess Club rooms. It appears that in March, 1904, the Club had ceased to occupy the rooms in question and had practically gone out of existence.
The evidence presented before the commission, however, convinced me that gambling was extensively carried on at the Chess Club rooms while the Club was in existence. One witness testified that, before March, 1904, the Club was frequented by all classes of men and by men of different races, such as Chinese, Japanese, and Negroes.
The same witness, who was made use of by the police to obtain information as to the character of these clubs, states that games, such as poker and blackjack, were generally played, and that, although he frequently visited the place, he never saw a chess board there. I would recommend that the charter of this Club be revoked and that the society or association be dissolved."
[From the original report, now in the B.C. Archives. We hasten to add that this report in no way reflects on the other entities which have held the name 'Vancouver Chess Club' since 1905!]