By Joanne Doucette
Luella Price and her friends were up against not only discrimination and racism, but the most extreme form of it when they banded together to form the Eureka Club. In the 1920’s the KKK tried to move into Ontario and had momentary success. Ultimately it never took firm hold here.
Luella Cooper was born on June 30, 1858, in Maryland. Maryland stayed in the Union during the Civil War although many supported slavery. Be-cause it stayed in the Union, the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t apply to Maryland. Many moved from Maryland to Washington, D.C. to be free or to escape violent racism. In 1864 Maryland voted to free its en-slaved people.
Her husband, Grandison Price, was the son of Eliza, a black slave and a white slave-owner. Luella Cooper, a free woman of colour, married Grandison Price on June 16, 1875. He was a messenger for the U.S. Government and apparently a veteran of the Union Army.
The Prices moved north to Toronto. They lived on York Street where Luella worked as a dressmaker and Grandison worked as a barber. He later found work as a porter on the CPR railroad. Luella ran a boarding house where prominent Torontonians, such as Elisha Edmunds and John Hubbard, lived. By 1893 Luella had her own restaurant. But the wealthy landowners of York Street cleared the houses and businesses to build offices and factories. The Prices moved to Morse Street in Leslieville.
In 1905 the Prices built their cottage at 6 Redwood Avenue. The Gerrard and Greenwood area had a small but significant Black community. In 1910, Luella Price and others met there to form the Eureka Club Their motto was “Not for ourselves, but for others”.
The Eureka Club: Effective Work Being Done. So it is evident that those of the colored people who have achieved prominence in the affairs of the community are not losing sight of the needs of their less fortunate countrymen.
As for those who need the help of the social worker, their problems are unemployment, illness, desertion – just the same problems that confront the poor of any other race in our city. Globe, June 5, 1923
In 1980 at its 70th anniversary, the Eureka Club was the oldest Black women’s organization in Ontario.
The Eureka group has done everything: Assisting with rent, hospital or funeral payments, visiting shut-ins, distributing food and clothing, supplying glasses for children, making cancer pads; awarding scholarships to students entering university, donating a wheelchair to Bloor-View Children’s Hospital, assisting churches in purchasing hymnals…Their work, ever since that first session 70 years ago to help one needy individual, has been largely in the black community, but not confined to it. Toronto Star, Oct. 16, 1980