The Early Days
The Cornbury Society was founded in Vancouver around 1987 by Johanna Bolton & Julia Mathieson after meeting and discovering their mutual crossdressing interest. Dorothy Finch, another ex-Brit joined them and The Cornbury Society was born.
It seemed only natural to name the club after Lord Cornbury, another Brit whose penchant for crossdressing was no secret to the earliest residents of New York.
Knowing that there were other like minded folks in the vicinity it seemed the best way to contact them was through newspaper advertising – computers and email were only in their infancy at the time.
Although Johanna had been out and about in Vancouver for some years prior to this she knew that most TV’s and TS’s were still wary of venturing out, as even acceptance by the gay community was still not guaranteed. Many gay clubs were still likely to refuse admittance to TV and TS folk.
Adverts in the local papers produced positive results and the list of prospective members grew. A screening process was set up whereby Johanna would interview applicants at a club on Davie St. called “Numbers”. “Numbers was a gay bar populated by a cross section of the gay community including many who dressed in black leather and looked like bikers. The atmosphere there was intimidating for the “newly out” TV and it was more of an ordeal than a pleasant experience. Soon though, there were enough members to warrant holding monthly meetings. Cornbury’s first meetings were held in a room at the rear of The Town & Country Inn in Delta. The staff looked suitably bemused as around fifteen or so elegantly clad “females” made their delicate way through the hotel lobby to the rear of the building.
The meetings were not exactly lively affairs mostly due to the fact they were conducted under “Roberts Rules of Order” and also that many of the new members were simply petrified about being out in public.
The Cornbury Society operated under strict rules that they were for “the heterosexual crossdressers only”. Despite this rule it was obvious to the casual observer that some members had “slipped under the radar”, so to speak. Within a month or so at least one member was openly planning their trip to Colorado for a little gender reassignment surgery.
Dorothy Finch had decided that the grass was greener over the other side of the border and was spending most of her time with the Northwest Gender Alliance folks in Portland, Oregon.
After about six months it was decided to move the meetings from Delta to The Accent Inn in Richmond, which made it very difficult for those of us that did not reside in Vancouver. An already lengthy trip was almost becoming a marathon, with many members finding it difficult to leave work and get ready to be in Richmond on time.
This problem was solved in a very short space of time as The Accent Inn management decided after a couple of meetings that they definitely did not want a gathering of very elegantly clad “females” invading their pristine space on a monthly basis. We were suitably “drummed” out of the premises never to return.