A History of Rotary Club of Victoria-Harbourside
 
In early 1980 a small group of members of the Victoria Rotary Club felt that it was time to form a new Club in Victoria, specifically a Breakfast Club. There was a fair amount of opposition to this idea from some members of Victoria Rotary Club who didn't agree that another Club was needed. Sidney, Saanich, Oak Bay, Colwood and Brentwood Clubs were all operating at the time so they thought there were enough clubs. However, the idea had the blessing of the District Governor at the time and the founding members - Fred Bartlett, Cecil Prowse, Allen Rowan-Legg and Kevin McLaughlin - went ahead and rounded up about 25 prospects.  In early August 1980 the debut meeting of Canada's first breakfast club (provisional) was held at the Laurel Point Inn (thus the name Harbourside) chosen by Founding President Fred Bartlett).
 

The meeting facilities at Laurel Point were less than satisfactory and the club soon moved to the Princess Mary Restaurant (private room upstairs - table service!).

We soon had enough members to charter and our Charter night was held on Sept. 27th, 1980 when the District Governor installed the Officers and Directors, with Fred Bartlett as President, Cecil Prowse as President-Elect and Tom Martin Sr. as Vice-President.

We had a good relationship with the Princess Mary, who told us when we had 60 members they would set up a buffet breakfast. We achieved this within a couple of years, but shortly after, due to the economic downturn, the Princess Mary politely asked us to look for a new venue. They could not justify bringing in staff just for the Harbourside breakfast.

The Club found a new home at Harbour Towers but this also did not work out well. After a couple of other bad starts, we were able to make arrangements at the Union Club, our present location.

In the early days, fund raising efforts were quite modest but our members were much involved in the community from the start. The first major fundraiser was raffling a boat, motor and trailer which were moved around from one shopping mall to another. This project raised a lot of money over several years, but it required much member input and commitment of time. It taught some people the meaning of the mantra "Service above Self"!

Harbourside Rotary was also very involved with Camp Thunderbird and the Boys and Girls Club. The Boys and Girls Club was a long time commitment of our charter member Alan Potter, who was the father of the benefactor of the Harbourside Foundation, Michael Potter.

In a joint project with the Oak Bay Club, we developed the Lookout on Beach Drive S.E.

In 1989 we inducted our first women members; Chris Dysart and Bev Rozee (see the story of women in Harbourside Rotary). Including women was undoubtedly one of the best decisions Rotary ever made, and Harbourside's women members have always been active, totally involved Rotarians.

In the early '90s Alan Potter and Jim Warr were able to convince Government House that the eastern portion of the Government House grounds would be an ideal place for the Rotary Garden of International Friendship. Several work parties were required to bring this to reality. We solicited plants, shrubs, trees and donations from Clubs around the world, until RI stepped in and said we could not continue. But by that time we had a pretty good collection and the garden became a reality. The staff and volunteers at Government House were most helpful in developing and maintaining this garden.

In 1994 a member of Harbourside, who was Superintendent of Schools and trying to turn around an inner city school, got a number of her fellow members to assist in this process. This began an association with George Jay Elementary. Rotarians made toast for children who had no breakfast; assisted students in class room subjects; and provided a number of noon hour activities including a very active chess club. Harbourside also provided upgraded computer equipment and teaching programs.

A number of children were exposed to Rotary activities where they acquired role models and a sense of community responsibility. Several became involved in Interact and Rotoract and continue to assist on Harbourside projects. Undoubtedly many are future Rotarians. Six of these students, who distinguished themselves in community service, have been designated as Paul Harris Fellows by individual Harbourside members.

The Club still maintains a close relationship with George Jay and has an active relationship with the Central Middle School where several members volunteer to serve breakfast.

Our next major fund raiser was the Hoot. Originated by Tom Martin, the Hoot generated significant funds for many years.

Harbourside, through its World Community Service Program has also supported many international projects with Club raised money and member participation. These have included water well projects in Kenya and Honduras; micro credit projects in Costa Rica and Guatemala; and, education, literacy and economic development in Honduras (2010). Harbourside also supported Mosaic in South Africa and John Martyn School in India. Harbourside invests in Operation Eyesight restoring the sight of people in the third world as a way to thank our weekly speakers. Harbourside has sponsored many Shelter Box donations to Haiti and other counties. Many more worthy projects were undertaken over the years.

The first ever Rotary sponsored delegation was a visit to the Soviet Union which was led by and included three members of Harbourside.

The membership of Harbourside continued to grow despite an approximate 10% loss annually as people changed jobs, was transferred out of town, or developed greater family responsibilities. In l998, we hit a peak membership of 113. Like most Rotary Clubs, however, Harbourside subsequently settled into a fairly stable and sustainable number of approximately 90 members.

In 2010, Harbourside observed its 30th Anniversary. We were honoured to have the presence of Wilf Wilkinson, President of Rotary International in 2007 as our guest and keynote speaker. Wilf is the only Canadian to hold that high office since l952.

Harbourside continues to grow and prosper, with more women members and younger members. We will continue to be a significant contributor to both local community projects and International projects.

Compiled by Jim Warr with input from Tom Martin,Barry Adams, Mike Creery, Bill Feyrer and Jack Jeffery

 

Women in Harbourside Rotary.

Rotary International was founded as a men's club in 1905.   But that didn't mean women were inactive. In the early days, they provided support to their husband Rotarians. They assisted with fundraising and social activities, and helped with the various club and community projects. Some Rotary clubs in Victoria and elsewhere established ladies auxiliaries called "Rotary Anns" or "Inner Wheel" but Harbourside did not formalize their role that way.

The relationship of women to Rotary changed on June 1, 1977, when the Rotary Club of Durante, California inducted three women members into their club. RI immediately pulled the club's charter and the Rotary Club of Durante took RI to the Supreme Court of California arguing discrimination. The Club won that suit but lost on an appeal. The suit eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States and on May 4, 1987, the Supreme Court ruled that RI must allow women and other minorities to be eligible to join Rotary.

That started a debate in Harbourside, which was founded in 1980.  Not all Harboursiders were in favour of having women members. Luckily, then-President Doug Potentier was the Deputy Chief of Police and was able to keep matters well in hand. Common sense prevailed and on April 5, 1989, President Doug inducted the first two women members into the Club. They were Beverly Rozee, an investment broker with Odlum Brown; and Christine Dysart, owner of Brown's the Florist.

It soon became clear that these women joined because they shared the Rotary values and wanted to be of service. Despite the debate, they were made very welcome in the Club.

Clearly some changes had to be made before women would feel comfortable and welcome enough to become members. Language was cleaned up, some jokes weren't told (at the podium at least), and social functions had to accommodate members of both genders. Change, however, came slowly and Beverly and Chris remained the only women members until 1991.

Slowly, one by one, more women joined the club. By 1994, there were six, and by 1999, there were 15. Currently roughly 30% of the membership is women, with a goal of 50% by 2021. 

Even though their numbers were small back then, the women's contributions were not. In 1993, Ardath Paxton-Mann became the first Director of the Club, in the capacity of Co-Director of International Affairs. Then in 1999, Susan Kurushima became the first woman President, followed in 2000 by Chris Dysart, and Maureen Duncan in 2005.

Women not only served on the Board, they introduced three of our five major fundraisers. In the early 1990's, Chris Dysart introduced Roses from Rotary, and in 2001, Ann Moskow and Margaret Mann introduced The Rotary Tea, which later became The Rotary Brunch. Guests at the Tea made such favourable comments about the fruit cakes that another fundraiser was started: "Christmas Cakes from Rotary". Over the years, the three fundraising events have raised over $350,000. Roses and Cakes are not only still very successful, they are very popular with the entire 'family of Harbourside' because of the wonderful fellowship among all the volunteers.


According to the History of Rotary website, "The addition of women in Rotary has represented the single greatest force in the growth of Rotary International and the fastest growing category of new members is women, especially in the western world."

Here is a link to additional information about women in Rotary International
 

Founding Members

Fred Bartlett
Cec Prowse
Kevin McLaughlin

Charter Members
Barry Adams
Fred Bartlett
Peter Bradley
Ray Briggs 
Don Cal
Eric Charman
David Clarke
Glen Crawford
Michael Creery
Charles Dorrington
Pat Downey
Roy Easterbrook
Don Francis
Dennis Gabriel
Walter Gordon
Marke Hambley
Joe Heald
David Hosgood