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History of Our Chapter

Brief history of Gravenhurst Rotary

In 1934, just 30 years after Paul Harris and friends started Rotary, the Rotaty wheel rolled into Muskoka. Huntsville businessman Bert Horton met Calgary Rotarian Doug Howland in North Bay. He was crossing Canada to spread Rotary’s vision … Late that year Huntsville had a club, and Horton and mayor Harmon Rice inspired 21 men to start a club in Bracebridge Dec. 4, 1935.

In 1937, the 50th anniversary of Gravenhurst, mayor George Panter thought a club with a conunitment to community service was right for a growing town. The first luncheon meeting was April 12 at Vincent’s Restaurant (now Riviera Restaurant). Guest speaker Bob Moffiltt, principal of the school for TB patients at Muskoka Hospital in Gravenhurst, spoke on ‘Modern Trends in Education.” Charter night for the 4,243rd club was May 3, 1937, with a gala night at Vincent’s. The club’s first president Dr. Walter Kendall accepted the charter from District Governor George Barber, of Batavia, N.Y., with 100 Rotarians on hand from Toronto, Bowmanville, Parry Sound, Bracebridge, North Bay and Huntsville. Club gifts included a portrait of King George and a Rotary wheel and brass bell from Huntsville. The new club had 22 businessmen and professionals:

Julius Borneman,Walter Clairmont, Lloyd Cosby, Charles Clemmens, Ed Crutchley, Frank Davie, Art Ferguson, Bruce Findlay, Charlie Fleming, Tom Greavette, Harry Hazelwood, Larry Hewes, Walter Kendall, Rev. John D. Lindsell, James Murray, Harry Martin, George Panter, Tom Smith, Gordon Sloan, Ron Thomson, Claire Vincent and W.F. Wasley.

The first board was President Walter Kendall; v-p Larry Hewes, treasurer Tom Smith, secretary Walter Clairmont and directors Harry Martin, George Panter, W.F. Wasley and Sgt.-at-arrns Bruce Findlay.

In 1945 Gravenhurst sponsored an Orillia Rotary and some early meetings were shared back and forth at the Sundial Restaurant. Gravenhurst also went on to sponsor the Washago Rotary Club and Gravenhurst Probus Club in recent years. Gravenhurst Rotary first met at Vincent’s Tuesday afternoons, then soon moved up Muskoka Road to Sloan’s Restaurant for 43 years, then across the street to Basile’s Restaurant in 1986 for four years. Eventually the club met at Muskoka Sands, the Opera House, Seniors’ Centre and today back to the Opera House.

From 22 members, there are now about 55 in Gravenhurst and growing. – By Cyril Fry

Some past Projects: Milk for town & British kids Second World War; GH Air Cadets; Gull  Lake swim program; Easter Seals Snow-a-rama over 20 years; hosted Rl President Caparas 1986; Overseas child sponsorships; Rotary exchange students; Rotary Wheels Learning; Winter Carnival Skokie’s Cell ars; TV Bingo; TV Auction; Rotary Town Hall Series (Muskoka Concen Assoc.); Barge building, concens; Rotary Gazebo at Gull Lake
Rotary Park; Kinsmen Park shelters; Lions Pavilion partner; Brat-mobile; Jr. Achievement; Citizenship; Twin city in India; Honourary Chinese member Chi Ming; Opera House piano; OPP Officers of Month; Opera House & Srs. Centre elevators; New library; Washago and Probus sponsor; Polio-Plus; AJl minor spons, community groups, charities and special needs citizens.

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