GRAVENHURST - Service Above Self is the burden of love the Gravenhurst Rotary Club has lived by for 75 years now.
Rotary goes diamond.
WORTH WAITING FOR. The Gravenhurst Rotary Club celebrated 75 years in operation this past Monday. Cutting a huge ceremonial cake fitting enough for the celebration were: (from left) the club’s newest member at about six months, Paul Latour, club president Enno Hoekstra and the club’s longest-serving member Jim Reynolds, who’s been part of Rotary for more than 42 years. (Photo by Neil Etienne)
The local service club celebrated its diamond anniversary in town this past Monday afternoon, toasting its tried and true mottoes and mantras in Gravenhurst Opera House May 7 amid their appreciative supporters, family members, town council and staff, and fellow members from surrounding clubs.
It was a time to reminisce on those 75 years of dedicated community service, as well as look ahead to the next, as the oldest service club in the world continues to expand, bringing its impact to both the local and global communities.
“A quote that I saw the other day says that the road to success is not crowded; while most are looking for ways to take, the truly successful people are finding ways to give,” said Mayor Paisley Donaldson, thanking the club for its long and dedicated service. “When I look around the room, this is certainly what I feel describes Rotarians.”
“You are all very passionate people who give freely of your time for the betterment of our community and for that I thank you all,” she added.
The Gravenhurst club got its start thanks to the support of the Huntsville club, which had formed in 1934. The Huntsville club sponsored the creation of Bracebridge’s Rotary in 1935, then did the same for Gravenhurst in 1937, which also represented the 50th anniversary of this town. Many of those founding and charter members’ names, like Ferguson, Clairmont and Greavette, still resonate through the local club today as their offspring have taken up the mantle over the decades. Those early members also helped proliferate Rotary into Muskoka by sponsoring the Orillia club that formed in 1945 and years later the Rotary Club in Washago.
Margaret Walton, Bracebridge Rotary member and assistant local district governor, was a special guest speaker who looked ahead to the next 75 years and building on the successes of the past.
“In order to talk about the future of Rotary, I think we need to go back to the past; when I looked at the history of this club, I thought, this is an amazing club,” she said.
The local club has thrown its support behind both local community and major international projects, she added, such as supporting local youth through their endowment bursary fund or helping eradicate polio from all but three countries right now. “We make stronger communities wherever we are. Hopefully the next 75 years will show as much community involvement.”
She explained Rotary was the first service club, created in 1904 by Chicago’s Paul Harris. Thirty years after the Rotary wheel rolled into Muskoka through Huntsville and eventually south to Orillia.
Over the years the Gravenhurst club has provided milk for local and British youth during the Second World War, has supported the Easter Seals telethon for more than 20 years, has run a local charity TV bingo and so much more. Walton said the upcoming year will be themed Peace Through Service, as the club looks to focus on ways to deal with international conflict resolution and clean water access for all, maternal health, education and literacy, as well as economic development and mentorship.
“We don’t need to make people’s lives better; we have to give them the tools to make their lives better,” she added. “Looking toward the future, the key things we need to do is to keep Rotary simple, make it accessible to as many in your community as possible, take pride in what we do and do what has to be done,” Walton said in closing.
Huntsville Rotary president Gord Mitchell marked the occasion by presenting his Gravenhurst peers with a new Rotary banner. He explained it was when the Gravenhurst club formed in ’37 that Huntsville honoured their ties by donating the very meeting signal bell the local club still uses today.