To My Fellow Rotarians
The sun never sets on Rotary: if a Rotarian were to travel the 161 lands of Rotary visiting one of the more than 22,784 Rotary Clubs each day, it would take hime 62 years to complete his rounds - then he would have to start visiting clubs formed since his journey began. On this trip, he would encounter over one million business and professional men of all races and creeds and speaking more than 35 languages.
The general objectives of Rotary Clubs in every country are the same - the development of fellowship and understanding among the business and professional men in the community, the promotion of community - betterment and the advancement of the international understanding, good will and peace. Rotary Clubs everywhere have on basic ideal - the “ideal of service”, which is thoughtfulness and helpfulness to others.
And today, at the 25th Anniversary of the Fort St. John Rotary Club, wee can be proud of our past achievements.
Our current project is the Charlie Lake Recreational Park at the south end of the lake for 50 campsites with all the facilities. Phase 1 of the project is almost finished. To date, over $200,000 has been spent in cash and donated work. The funds for this project are mainly raised through the Rotary Bingo where each member puts in his work on Tuesday nights.
We are involved in the International Youth Exchange Program wit Kristian Lundin from Norway here this year and Megan Giesbrecht in New Zealand. We send young people from Fort St. John to the Rotary Programs in Ottawa “Adventures in Citizenship” and to Lethbridge for RYLA. We host a Study Exchange Group from abroad each year and tour the Peace River with them with the help of the River Rats. We attend the District Conferences and the International Conferences - which I had the place to attend in Munich last year.
We support and sponsor a Pee Wee Hockey Club and the Rotary Pipe Band. We take care of the distribution of the Christmas hampers. We raise money with the food booth at the Annual Rodeo. The fun part are the golf tournaments, curling events, bowling parties, president’s ball, Christmas parties, luncheons with the ladies, sons and daughters day, family picnics, fireside meetings and this year the “Guess Who is Coming to Dinner” Program.
Now let’s have a look back to 1963 and the first 10 years: May 17, 1963 was the Charter Night of the Fort St. John Rotary Club chartered by the Grande Prairie Rotary Club. As I went through the photo album, I found that one of the first fundraisers was the planting, cultivating and marketing of potatoes; the harvest that year was good - as the photos indicate; but as you know, there is not much money in farming, so the Rotary gang turned to a more profitable job: they robbed a bank, and full money bags show - they were successful.
Then there was the serious stuff to take care of: to support the Pee Wee Hockey Club, to donate to the wading pool in the Pacific Pete Subdivision, to sponsor young people like Brenda Cranston - one of the first to represent us in the “Something for Young Minds” Project, to provide a home for a group of children operated by the North Peace Community Resources Society and supported by the Rotary Club.
But there was fun as well; the Rotary District Bonspiel was held here in 1967. With the Slave Auction, Rotarians were auctioned off as slaves, and they really looked like some - chained together and in dreadful clothes. Rotary raised over $1300.00. There are some other events that should be mentioned: In 1971, the Rotary Pipe Band was formed. Tony Brummet received the “Service Above Self” award.
More and more, the Fort St. John Rotary Club got involved with the youth programs. Senior high school students were sent to Ottawa and Lethbridge, and the club took part in the International Youth Exchange Program with hosting students and sending girls and boys from Fort St. John to faraway countries.
Then there was a big project starting in 1971: The Rotary Health Unit at a cost of $150,000. On May 27, 1972, the Fort Nelson Rotary Club was chartered by the Fort St. John Club.
Now to the next ten years, 1973 - 1983: we see the Rotary Health Unit opened, a visit from the Rotary International President, Bill Carter, a Miss Rotary each year, participation and donation to the annual Dog Sled Derbys, a contribution of a large amount of books to the Asia-Pacific Teaching Fellows in the Philippines. During this time period, the planning and work on the Charlie Lake Project starts. In 1978, the club co-sponsors a Christmas party for 35 handicapped children, ages 3 to 15 years.
The pictures show lots of fun at the annual millionaire dinners, Christmas parties, family picnics, the banquets, conferences and meetings with Rotary Clubs of other towns. In 1978, the club honoured Ross MacLean with a Paul Harris Fellowship and during the following years, several more members were honoured with this award. To commemorate the “Year of the Child” - 1980 - a donation of $10,000.00 was given to the Child Development Centre.
In 1982, sponsorship of the Ride for Disabled was started at the Equestrian Centre. In May, 1983, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Fort St. John Rotary Club with a big party. As to the Charlie Lake Project, the boat launch was completed in the summer of 1983 with manpower, materials, equipments, and cash. For the B.C. Winter Games in March of 1984, the club donated handsome outfits for the 25 ladies in charge of hospitality.
In 1985, manpower was needed to paint the Rotary Wading Pool and the construction of the Rotary Diamond at Charlie Lake was completed. The plans for the future Charlie Lake Park were laid out.
In 1986, the club donated $15,000.00 to the Expo Legacy Library Theatre Complex, and $5000.00 was spent towards the Christmas Hamper Fund. One of the latest donations went to the North Peace Performing Arts Festival in March of 1988.
I would like to close with some words of the District Governor, Frank Totino, which he wrote to us upon the 25th Anniversary of the club:
“Over the past 25 years, Rotary has made Fort St. John a better place to live. The many projects that your club members have completed are a credit to all of you. I hope that on April 22, 1988, you and your fellow Rotarians will take time to celebrate your achievements. You are all truly Rotarians, United in Service - Dedicated to Peace.”
Ernst Kottman, President