BRIEF HISTORY OF OUR CLUB
The Rotary Club of Hamilton’s first meeting was held in the Private Dining Room at Fong Young’s Cafe 26 King William Street Hamilton on Thursday June 26th, 1913 at 1.10 p.m. in the afternoon. The Hamilton Rotary Club became the 3rd Rotary Club in Canada and the 82nd Club chartered by Rotary International. The Rotary Club of Hamilton was Chartered on August 1st 1913
At the end of its first year there were 29 members and for almost three years the Club did not have a permanent luncheon location. During that period meetings (which appeared to be held on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month) were held in a variety of locations, including the Conservatory of Music, the Y.M.C.A., the Wentworth Arms Hotel, Robinson’s Tea Room, Fong Young’s Restaurant, the Royal Hotel and the Tudor Inn. Both the Royal Hotel and the Wentworth Arms subsequently burnt down and Robinsons and Youngs passed into limbo. The Connaught did not exist at that time but a hotel known as the “Old Waldorf” operated at that site.
World War I erupted and caused many disruptions not the least of which was food rationing which at times resulted in meager lunches. The Club found many activities related to the War that needed the many talents of the members and responded whole-heartedly.
In 1916 The Royal Connaught Hotel was erected and the Club held its first meeting at that location in June, 1916. At the outset the main Hotel dining room was located on the main floor where a restaurant now occupies the space. Many of the Club meetings were held there even after the ‘new’ wing was constructed in 1931 and the Ballroom became available. By June of 1918, close to the end of WW I, the Hotel was charging 90 cents per lunch.
The Club met at the Royal Connaught Hotel as a permanent location for most of its regular luncheon meetings until November 4, 2004, when the Connaught went into receivership. Club members showed up for a joint meeting with the Canadian Club for a Remembrance Day luncheon and were informed that the doors to the hotel would be locked later that same day.
After reviewing a number of excellent options for a new permanent location, in 2005 the club chose the Art Gallery of Hamilton for its new home. In 2017, the Rotary Club of Hamilton looked at different choices to host their meetings. The restaurant located in the Visitor’s Inn on Main St W became the new location for the Rotary meetings.
CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF SERVICE
In the 2013-14 Rotary Year, the Rotary Club of Hamilton Celebrated 100th Anniversary. The Club held a special fundraising campaign to support literacy projects today and for the next 100 years through their endowment fund “Rotary Forever Fund” at the Hamilton Community Foundation. Presidents Bob Munroe and Christopher Cutler presided over Anniversary year and Past President Alex Moroz was Chair of the 100th Anniversary Project.
100 years of service both locally and internationally….the history, the funds raised for so many great causes and the friendships that have been created over the years. Here are just a few of the highlights:
- The first meeting of the Rotary Club of Hamilton was on Thursday June 23, 1913 at 1:10pm at Young’s Café, 26 King William Street
- Mayor was John Allan
- The Club was Chartered on August 1st, 1913 and was numbered 82
- Bruce Carey, Russell T Kelly, Arthur Bell and Charlie McCallough were the four gentlemen who started the formation of the club. Other friends attended a lunch meeting to help organize the club – Bill Peace. George C Coppley, Harry Russell and Bill Seymour
- The Rotary Club of Toronto was our sponsor
- Hamilton’s population in 1913 – 88,918
- End of the first year of the Club membership was at 29
- Russell T Kelly served 2 terms as President and was District Governor for District 4 (1918-19)
- Art Leitch was at the founding meetings of the Club and was the first treasurer, but never became a member
- George C Coppley (President Coppley Noyes & Randle Co,) was a Charter Member and became one of the first members of Rotary to become Mayor of our city
- November 19 1915 first recorded minutes of the Club – resolved to donate a telephone to the “Khaki” Club, also supplied the Tobacco Fund and contributed to the Machine Gun Fund
- In February 1916 our first permanent Secretary Charles H Stearns was hired at a salary of $15 per month
- May (1914-16?) the Park s Board approved a small but pretty bungalow to be built in Gore Park. It was known as “the little House on the Gore”. It was donated & built by our members
- No Rotary in July & August – large summer picnics were held
- 1917-18 Rotary limited membership to 150 as Rotary caught on in a big way!
- Feb 21, 1918 Rotary held a Ladies ‘Day at Rotary. The Connaught Hotel took ladies through their kitchen explaining how they made bread & pastries
- YMCA would receive assistance for Rotary and Rotarians would assume office in the organization
- Operation Playground was started in 1918 bringing the Playgrounds Association to Hamilton. From a few poorly equipped playgrounds, Rotarians assisted Civic Dept. and in 1953 there were at least 20 playgrounds fully equipped and supervised.
- 1918-19 the hotel charge $0.90 for meals. Even in those days members criticized the service, air-conditioning, but most of all the food
- 1922 Dues $25 entrance fee $10 membership totals 146
- In 1922 Sunshine fund receipts $183.30 and the Santa Clause Fund $1469.25
- 1923 membership was closed as we reached 150 members
- 1925 the Board stated that the Sunshine Fund would be the only fund or record – confusing as it was recorded that the Sunshine Fund $37.50 Boy’s Work Fund $3471.65 and Santa Clause Fund $1659.21. The choir raised $1400 and several camps, father less boys and boys clubs also funded in other ways
- 1929 our Club pledges $0.50 per member to support the Ontario Society for Crippled Children
- 1938-39 25thAnniversary – The Beacon was commissioned to print a special keep sake edition
- 1960 – Rotary Scholarships annually provide $345,000 to 140 students
- Reported in 1960 – In 1947 Rotarians have supplies $3,322,000 in scholarships for students in 69 countries
- Hamilton Rotary has assisted in formation of Clubs in Brantford, Kitchener, Welland, Dundas & Burlington
- East Wentworth became the second Rotary Club in Hamilton sponsored by our club in June 18, 1959
- 50thAnniversary Harold Embree was president
- 1980 Rotary gave $35,000 to 3 youth-oriented organizations (Dawn Patrol, Third Sector Enterprises and Junior Achievement)
- 1983 Rotary donates $10,000 to Easter Seals project
- 1988 Rotary refuses to allow women into the Club
- 1994 Books for Bamala India – Joint project with Cincinnati Rotary to establish a library. A US Air Force Jet will deliver the books
- 1994 Rotary Auction raises $58K up from $45K the previous year
- 1997 Gift of Smiles –Young Caribbean victim of a serious fireworks accident gets surgery at Mac Antonio Haynes
- Oct 1998 Rotarian John Logan recognized for work with Easter Seals
- 2000 Hamilton Children Photo contest – the Good, the bad & The Beautiful of Hamilton (5thannual event and had 128 children participate)
- 2003 The Rotary Summer Literacy Camp Program was started to offer free literacy camp during the summer months
- 2004 Spring Uncorked started as our Club’s major fundraiser
- 2005 the Rotary Club of Hamilton found their new home at the Art Gallery of Hamilton
- 2005 Wever Hub Project – continuing the work of the Inner City & Youth Initiatives Committee with several projects focused on the “Code Red Neighbourhood Report” (Hamilton Spectator)
- 2006 The Rotary Haunted House in Waterdown was operated by our Rotary Club to raise funds for children’s charity
- 2007 – Rotary Forever Fund created at the Hamilton Community Foundation creating a legacy for Rotary in Hamilton
- 2013-14 Celebrated 100 years of Rotary – Presidents Bob Munroe & Christopher Cutler served as Presidents during our Anniversary year.
- 2014 – Rotary Remembers Calendar – Featuring the women of Rotary. All funds raised help support literacy and children projects
- 2015 – Rotary Fall Golf Classic – 9 holes of golf after work. Every hole has food, prize of beverage!
- 2016 – Vision Cares Project – Eye testing and glasses for over 3000 children each year
- 2017 – Rotary finds a new meeting location at the Visitor’s Inn in Westdale
- 2018 – Telling Tales Festival separated from Rotary and became its own Charity
- 2018 – Laughs for Literacy fundraiser launched – This is no Joke!
- 2019 – The Rotary Club of Hamilton Mountain merges with the Rotary Club of Hamilton creating “Rotary Hamilton”