The Toronto Ornithological Club (TOC) was established by Toronto area birders in order to facilitate cooperation and communication concerning ornithological studies within the Toronto area and between Toronto and other ornithological centres. The club maintains records of bird sightings each year in Toronto and adjoining areas. Meetings generally include a short paper on an ornithological topic by one of the members or a guest speaker
The formation of the TOC was first proposed in the fall of 1933 by Jim Baillie, Ott Devitt, Stu Downing, Bill Emery, Hubert Richardson, and R. Art Smith, who met to discuss the purpose of such a club, its proposed constitution, and to draw up a list of possible members. The first meeting was held on January 5, 1934; in addition to the founders, the meeting was attended by Albert Allin, Ed Deacon, John Edmonds, J.H. Fleming, Paul Harrington, Cliff Hope, Bob Lindsay, Thomas McIlwraith, Ross Rutter, Terry Shortt, Lester Snyder, Herb Southam, Murray Speirs, and Stuart Thompson. The charter members immediately voted to make J.H. Fleming an honorary member.
The TOC was managed by an Executive Council, with the secretary-treasurer responsible for collecting membership dues, paying bills, attending to correspondence, reading the roll-call at meetings, and appointing a chairman for each meeting. Women were not permitted as members until 1980, when Phyllis E. Mackay joined the Club. The TOC did not have a president until Hugh Currie’s appointment in 1991. It was at this time that Currie rewrote the by-laws creating and defining the post, as well as setting out the roles for the rest of the executive. Currie served until January 2000. He was followed by Marcel Gabhauer (2000-2002), Don Burton (2002-2005), Bob Carswell (2005-September 2007), Margaret Kelch (acting President, 2007-2008), and Kevin Seymour (2008-present)
In 1934, the TOC ran its first ‘Fall Field Day’, during which the members went birding in different areas of York County. By 1944, the Field Day was being held in the Durham region. The Field Day traditionally ended with a social gathering; from 1944-1979, the ‘round-up’ was held at Alf Bunker’s home in Ajax.
In 1958, the TOC took over the management of the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) from the Brodie Club. The purpose of the CBC was to count as many birds as possible within a 30-mile radius of the Royal Ontario Museum. In 1989, the area was reduced to 7.5 miles, centred on the ROM.