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THE DISTRICT 7040 HISTORY

From "Under the Northern Lights"

Canadian history at www.canadaclubs.org

Edited or written by Rotary Global History historian PDG Jim Angus

District 7040

Rotary began in the territorial area of what is now District 7040 in 1913 when the Rotary Club of Montreal was organized. Like all the other districts in Zone 24, the District has experienced a series of boundary changes and constant renumbering. Today the District is an international district of 62 Rotary clubs, 20 in Upper New York State, 16 in Western Quebec, and 26 in Eastern Ontario.  The Canadian Clubs are in Zone 22, the New York Clubs are in Zone 31.

            Through the years, the District has been represented on various international committees. John R. Nelson of the Rotary Club of Montreal served as President of Rotary International in 1933-34. International President Dr. E Leslie Pidgeon (1917-18) became an honourary member of the Rotary Club of Montreal in 1925, when he moved to Montreal from Winnipeg.

            All the clubs in the District are strong supporters of Rotary Foundation programs. In 1981, the Montreal-Lakeshore Club presented a Paul Harris Fellow recognition to His Excellency Edward Schreyer, Governor General of Canada. The recognition was presented by Rotary International President Rolf J. Klärich of Finland.

Community Service

Instead of submitting a detailed list of specific projects  for publication in this Zone 22 Centennial History, the District has sent us a story about an experience of the Rotary Club of West Ottawa as an example of how Rotarians respond to community needs.

            In 1997, Floyd McPhee, a member of the West Ottawa Club learned about an horrific incident that took place in the low rental Baseline Court apartment complex in West Ottawa. Someone had thrown a child out a window to its death. As a result of some investigation, past president Ted Ferrier learned that a group of social workers from Carlington Community and Health Services was having a difficult time dealing with social problems in the apartment complex. Ferrier proposed that the West Ottawa Club form a partnership with the social workers. This eventually led to the Club renting an apartment in the building, the purpose of which was to give the social workers an “in-house” base of operations and a place where Rotarians could visit to establish rapport with some of the residents. A number of Rotarians participated in painting, building shelves and cupboards in the apartment.

Rotarians rose to the more important challenge of helping the children, in particular, by introducing a number of programs. They started a Beaver Colony which was formally chartered by Scouts Canada. An after school program titled Homework Bound gave Rotarians and other volunteers an opportunity to meet with children to help them with their homework. A Christmas party was organized at which Ted Ferrier played Santa Claus.

            It soon became apparent that the children did not have a decent place to play. Typically, Ted Ferrier rose to the challenge. In 1999, he applied for and received, on behalf of the Club, a Children’s Opportunities Grant from the Rotary Foundation to build a playground in the unused tennis courts of the apartment complex. Under the leadership of Rotarian Steve Blondeau, over 30 Club members removed the old tennis courts, installed a new surface for the playground area, and created a basketball court. To celebrate, Ted Ferrier and the landlord, Dave Houston, organized a barbecue that became an annual event. Ferrier retired as chair of the Belair Committee and PDG Russ Hicks took over.

            Under Hicks’ chairmanship the previous programs were continued, while additional ones were added. Lack of space for existing programs in the apartment building and for a Rotary Community Corps which he hoped to form became a problem. Taking a cue from the New Beginnings for Youth organization that had converted a 48-foot trailer into a modern, bright classroom, Hicks endeavoured to acquire a trailer too.

            Hicks applied for grants to purchase a trailer from New Beginnings for Youth to be used as the headquarters for Canada’s first Rotary Committee Corps and other children’s programs. The trailer was financed by a $10,000 grant from the Rotary Foundation’s Community Assistance Program, $16,800 from the Rotary Club, $5,000 from TD Canada Trust, and $ 1,750 from private donations. The trailer project was completed in the fall of 2001, the same year that the Rotary Community Corps received its charter.

             In addition to housing former projects, the trailer made possible a host of new programs: for the monthly and special meetings of the Rotary Community Corps; every week day for an ESL (English as a Second Language) course; one evening weekly for an anger management program for adolescents; and a food distribution centre known as the Good Food Box Program, operated by the Community Corps.

            Past Peter  Gilman assumed chair of the planning committee in 2002, and while supporting existing programs, he has been active in developing new ones. Presently the committee is actively seeking furniture for new residents.

Books and other writing by Paul Harris

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