History of the Cobourg Rotary Club
Written by C. Gordon King in 1980

The date was 12th  August 1921.  The place was the Arlington Hotel.  The occasion was the banquet imitating the Cobourg Rotary Club of 23 members, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Montreal.  Attending were Rotarians from Toronto, Belleville, Peterborough and Montreal.

The first official meeting of the club took place on August 23rd in the British Hotel, where meetings were held until 1979 when the club moved, first, to the Lions Center, then to the Cobourg Motor Inn, (now the Cobourg Inn and Convention Centre). The club now had a strength of 90 members. 

The longest service with which the club has been involved has been the help extended through Easter Seals to contribute to crippled and handicapped children in this area.  This help gave treatment not only in our own hospital but also to the Hospital For Sick Children.  Most recent has been the gift of $20,000 to the Crippled Children's' Treatment Centre in Peterborough.

The youth of Cobourg and area have long received close attention from the club.  In the past 30 years prizes have been awarded for educational achievement in our schools.  Students have been sent to "Adventure in Citizenship" in Ottawa and to the United Nations seminars at Queens University

A student loan fund has helped several pupils in their pursuit of higher education.  Two High school students have been given opportunity to study for a year in secondary schools in Denmark and in Australia.  Three students from abroad have been hosted by the club in a reciprocal plan. 

The club has sponsored the Air Cadets, first from 1942 to 1946 then from 1954 to the present when youth receive not just training in aeronautics, but also in the principles of citizenship. 

Since 1971, with Rotarian Roly Ferris as chief advisor, the club has supported Junior Achievement whereby students from the Colligates, under the guidance of local businessmen, learn the procedures of the business world by setting up their own manufacturing companies, then producing and marketing a product. 

The club has also given extensive financial support for several recreational centres in the area - the Cobourg Memorial Arena and later Pad 11; the Sinclair Street and Coverdale tennis courts; the Baltimore Arena; the Northumberland Ski Club and currently a pledge of $50,000 for the new recreational center on Elgin Street

Generous contributions, matched by those of the County Council, gave the town the beautiful James Cockburn Centennial Gardens where picnics, sports and plain relaxation may take place. 

Other financial help was given to the expansion and renovation program for the General Hospital, Victoria Hall, Public Library, Victoria Park Greenhouse (where the beautiful flowers that grace our parks and town hall are propagated), the Cobourg Youth Orchestra and its parent (Northumberland Orchestra Association), the Camborne Daycare Center, the Lakeview property and the Jaws of Life apparatus (which has already saved lives).

Turning to the international scene one can see that this aspect of the Rotary International's activities is claiming more attention from the club than ever before.  Sponsored for RI Fellowships abroad were two Cobourg scholars, Peter McClelland in 1958/59 and Anne Fullerton in 1978/79.  Peter continued his studies in Economics at Oxford University, returning to become Head of the Economics department at Cornell University.  Anne's studies were directed to freshwater biology at the Freshwater Biological Institute in Copenhagen.  She is now studying saltwater biology at Dalhousie University to round out her career goal. 

In the island of St Lucia, we twined with the St Lucia South Club at Vieux Fort.  They had a desperate need for aid for its elderly citizens.  The two clubs cooperated to build and equip a dinner hall for a centre housing eighty five senior citizens. 

Haiti also received the attention of the club, in combination with others in district 707, when a herd of cattle was flown there in a project entitled "Heifers for Haiti".  These built up the stock of the island and presently provide much needed milk for the children there. 

When a hurricane devastated Dominica, ruining hundreds of acres of forest the club, again in conjunction with others, provided a mobile sawmill to help with the salvage of lumber from the uprooted trees.  For Valparaiso, Chile, two thousand dollars was sent towards equipping a children's rehabilitation gymnasium.  In 1979 a generous cheque was handed over to the local committee helping in the settlement of the "Boat People" in this area.  Currently the club is supporting a program for the elimination of polio in the Philippines and of measles in one of the Indian States under the 3H project (Health, Hunger, and Humanity).

How are these projects financed? 

Money has been raised by carnivals in the George Street school playgrounds; by trade fairs in the Armoury and in the Arena, by raffles of cars, trailers, and campers; by sponsoring concerts, stag nights, walkathons and minstrel shows, and currently by the BBC (Build a Better Cobourg) draw. 

Bonanza Night held in the two arenas inn 1979 and 1980 have helped to support the club's projects by offering dinner, dancing, entertainment and draws for cars, pleasure trips and merchandise. 

Only three pianists have played accompaniment for our weekly meetings since 1943. These are Edith Seymour-Taylor who resigned in 1958, Katie Warner who was killed tragically in 1966 and the blind Frank Bronskill who died suddenly in December 1979.

November 1950 marked the passing of the club's second President and Charter member, Dr Edgar W Hayden, renowned for ministering to the sick of this area for over fifty years

In 1955, the Golden Anniversary of Rotary, founded in Chicago in 1995 by Paul Harris, was celebrated by our club with a banquet in the Cobourg Pavilion.  The year 1958 saw Ed Ruggles, President in 1955, elected District Governor; hence our club had the responsibility of organizing the District Conference at the Royal York.  Everyone was involved in this under Chairman Ollie Johns. 

"This is Your Life" programs were staged for the late Dr Bill Wade, longtime Chairman of the Crippled Children's Committee, for 35 years of perfect attendance; for Ross Van Dusen (Mr. Bell Telephone); and for Judge Roy Wilmot who joined in May 1922 and is now an Honorary Member

In 1971 our Golden Anniversary was celebrated with a gala banquet on 27 October, chaired by President Peter Cortesis.  Past District Governor Ed Ruggles introduced guest speaker, Jack Davis, third Vice President of RI.  Also present on this occasion was Morley Sparling, charter member.  Judson Kennedy, the only other surviving charter member, was ill and unable to attend. 

During this year the history of the club was published under the editorship of Gord King.  In 1997 Roy Willmott and in 1908 Ed Ruggles and Gordon Dunlop were honoured by the club, by being made Paul Harris Fellows in recognition of their long service and devotion to Rotary.  Donations of $1,000 in their names were given to promote the international student scholarships.

In February 1908, RI celebrated its 75th anniversary.  Past President Jim Gordon chaired a local committee to publicize this event.  Past President George Totten and Rotarian Gord King brought this event to the notice of the public by a broadcast over the radio station CHUC and by a special edition of the Cobourg Star.  The guest speaker on 22 February was Rev Bob Sherwin, himself a recipient of Rotary Aid.  His topic was "What Rotary Means to Me" brought out the theme that "he profits most who serves the best".  The culmination of the luncheon was the cutting of a five foot anniversary cake shared by all present.

On 27 June President Bob MacCoubrey, notorious for his heavy fines, handed over the gavel to Morgan Hubble as incoming President, already noted for his pithy and witty remarks.  The executive consisted of Vice President Harry Greer, Secretary Bob Clark, Treasurer Rick Jones and Directors Alf Blything, Dave Roffey, Paul Macklin and Royce McCracken.  Besides these, President Morgan had to support him a gifted collection of local leaders in many fields of endeavour - business, professional, agricultural and commercial.

Under his leadership we can be assured the club as it nears its Diamond Jubilee year in 1981 will continue to exemplify the motto of RI "Service above Self" in its contributions to the local and international scenes.

C.  Gordon King