Did You Know? As the Historian for Life (or so it appears), I have been asked to produce a little ditty about what we were doing to form this club, 40 years ago, 1976.
That’s right, our 40th anniversary of getting our official charter, from Rotary International will be March 14th 2017, but 40 years ago in 1976, we were a group of men gathered to begin the process of forming Calgary’s next Rotary club. There were well established clubs already throughout our growing city, but the Calgary club (downtown) and South club were called on by the District Governor to get a new one going in the southwest. In those days, clubs were actually assigned a physical boundary from which to draw members. We were focused on the much smaller Chinook Shopping Centre, as a likely source of membership, hence the name, THE ROTARY CLUB of CALGARY CHINOOK was born.
Our birth began in the late summer of 1976. All prospective candidates for membership were sponsored by individual members of either the Downtown or South clubs, selected on the basis of ‘classification’, very strictly followed to assure no duplicates. Initially weekly meetings were arranged at the Eagles Hall, about where Shanks is located now. South club member Greg McLellan, classification Religion/Catholic, was chosen to be the charter president and spearhead the formation leading to charter.
A number of candidates did evolve from sponsorships and referrals, some tested the waters and chose not to join, but a much larger contingency did evolve to eventually lead us to full charter by RI. The big 4 mentors assisting us a long the way were Jim Porter, of the South club, and Ward Tennant, George Robbins and Curly Galbraith of the Downtown club. Father Greg, with his sharp wit, referred to them as “all Ancient Rotarians” in a Bulletin of November 23, 1976.
Our very fist ‘Bulletin’ was dated November 16 1976, in which Father Greg was suggesting possible names for future issues, like Shoelast, Shoestring and Shorts ... never really understood why those names were bantered about. By the way, the ‘Bulletin’ became the “Arch” as it is known now, on April 25th 1979, as suggested by this scribe.
The charter group were testing various possible locales for a permanent meeting place, as the Eagles Hall setup was not really conducive to our meeting style. Ultimately, we chose the Tradewinds Hotel, across Macleod Trail from Chinook Centre, with a little prodding from a charter member, Larry Ryder, classification ‘Hotel Management’, at the Tradewinds.
We continued to meet, unchartered, weekly into the new year, getting more and more anxious to receive our charter. The 72nd anniversary for RI was February 23, 1977 ... that was a date Father Greg had hoped for our charter, a double celebration, alas not to be had. In our 19th ‘Bulletin’ we were advised RI had approved our Charter on March 14th 1977. A celebration of the club’s charter, organized by our two sponsor clubs, would be held about a month later. Today, there are still 5 charter members of the club, providing “service above self”. They have all served in numerous committees and fund raising functions, and as club Presidents: Dr Ian Burgess, Herb Imler, Ron Smith, Tom Sorenson and Jim Thompson.
In a future “Did You Know”column we’ll review the April 12th 1977 celebration of charter night and the interesting members we have known over these 40 years. For example, do you know which member was an MLA, which was a former CFL football player and who was our first female member ???
When I came to Calgary, a physician friend asked me if I would like to join Rotary (January 69). When I had things in place in 1977, I spoke to him and he suggested the new Chinook club would suit me as it was likely going to meet across the street from my office at the Tradewinds Hotel.
It was a great group and one of the best things that happened was Greg Alexander agreed to be founding president. Getting to know Greg made the whole effort worth the next 30+years. We had some great adventures over the years but a few items stick out in my mind.
I was elected to be President in ‘89-’90 to follow Jim Galpin. He had us commit to a $75,000 project furnishing a part floor at the Foothills hospital site (it is still there). Then Jim was transferred to Edmonton so I as President-Elect came into office in January of ‘90 while running a full blown pediatric practice. With the help of the rest of the members we managed to pull it all off. The commitment to furnish the floor at the “Foot” was accomplished in less than 3years (in Joe Hooper’s year), not the five years we were given.
Also in 1990 we committed to buy a “Chuckwagon” canvas to publicize the coming RI convention in 1996. We made a few bucks and learned a lot about the Stampede. And had a good time doing it!
As a practicing pediatrician, Rotary’s commitment to eliminate POLIO worldwide was an especially important venture for me. I even had the opportunity to take a minor part in the District’s Polio Plus committee.
Other things that were outstanding was our commitment to park cars at Spruce Meadows and all the fellowship that entailed. And the importance that we developed in the eyes of the Spruce Meadows family.
I was asked to join Rotary in 1976, during the formation of the new club, by Bob Dawson of the South club. I served as a club Secretary, Director, President elect, President(81/82) & in numerous District & RI functions during the past 40 years.
We travel a lot, part of the fun in travelling for me was attending Rotary club meetings all over the world, even ending up as guest speaker(on 0 notice) at the club in Fiji.! I enjoyed the weekly break of a Rotary luncheon, visiting with others from all walks of life.
The inter club relationship we had for many years, with the Invermere BC club, was great fellowship involving golf & downhill skiing over long weekends. In those days, we were all male members, no complications with accommodation at our Invermere home, for attending club members.
I was honoured to be selected to serve on the BID COMMITTEE for the successful award of the 1996 RI Convention held in Calgary & the Executive Host Committee of the same Convention. I was further honoured with a Life Club Membership in 2007 & the first ever, club Distinguished Rotarian of the Year Award in 2011/12.
Projects the provided real fellowship too, like our Book Sales, The Rotarians Chuckwagon entry in the Stampede, annual corn sale, high school debates & family picnics are great memories. One last great source of personal pride, the development of the club's Nature Park in south Calgary, the largest single club footprint in the City.
I continue to believe that Fellowship is the most important foundation of a successful club.
As I think back on my Rotary experience I recall how Father Greg called at my office one day and my receptionist was shocked as she advised me, in my office, that a priest was in the waiting room to see me. This just didn’t happen in our office. We met, and that day I joined Chinook Rotary and helped charter the club. How could I say no!!!!!
What this great organization of Rotary means to me is its ability to provide an opportunity for a group of people, me included, to give back to society. Through our numbers we can make a difference. We are bound together in Rotary by our values. Commitment to community, integrity and honesty, friendliness, our Rotary Four Way Test and our professional approach to providing service. I believe we feel comfortable with one another because we share the same values. By living these values we have an opportunity to lead and change the world.
And of course my big concern is, we must be thinking ahead which should make us ask the question. “Who will carry on this work of Rotary?” It is the responsibility of each one of us to get others involved. Neighbors, friends, work associates, sons and daughters, and our customers. People who share our values and want to improve our communities and contribute to peace and international understanding.