Celebrating years of Rotarian service above self

Austin M.
Austin M. Davis
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Jack Ross is inspired by the Rotary Club of Moose Jaw’s history.

“It really tugs at the strings of my heart when I look at what they were doing,” Ross said.

Club members and guests celebrated the 109th anniversary of the first Rotary meeting on Monday afternoon at the Heritage Inn.

Though internationally there are now 1.2-million members, the Rotary had humble beginnings when four businessmen gathered for the first time.

It was 11 years after the first meeting in Chicago that Moose Jaw had its own Rotary Club. It was the second Rotary Club formed in Canada

Ross gave a presentation on excerpts from minutes of the Rotary Club of Moose Jaw’s first meetings.

He said the club’s historical commitment to caring for people is what stands out to him the most.

“The club actually formed when the First World War was still on and finishing up. Then we looked at returning wounded soldiers, helping them and caring for them,” Ross said.

The original Rotary Club minutes describe an interest in giving auto rides to military men.

“Not only civic affairs, but they were concerned about pensions in Canada. They were making motions to Ottawa to correct things. It was a very large, formidable club,” Ross said.

“I get tears in my eyes when I’m talking about it.”

Rotarians were always passionate about protecting their community.

Included in the Rotary’s book of minutes was a newspaper clipping. The headline reads “City’s reputed immorality is deprecated.”

“‘It came as an unpleasant shock to me,’ said Rotarian (W.J.) Binning, ‘to hear a train employee state that he crried (sic) more people of ill-repute in and out of Moose Jaw than to and from any other city on his run.’”

That humorous anecdote was followed by a complete change of pace as Mayor Deb Higgins informed the attendees of Moose Jaw’s continued growth.

She reflected on the importance of people like Rotarians who dedicate themselves to projects, following the motto of “service above self.”

Rotary Club of Moose Jaw president Tom Johnson said it’s important to celebrate milestones, even if it’s not an even number.

“Rotary has had such a huge impact, not only in our community, but also throughout the whole world. Rotary is a worldwide club. It’s the largest and oldest service club in the world,” Johnson said.

He said the Rotary Club has been pushing to eradicate polio.

“One Rotary Club started it in the ‘70s. They wanted to start giving vaccines, raising money to buy vaccines and going into countries that had high polio rates and vaccinating,” Johnson said.

The local chapter has made significant contributions to projects in the community.

Johnson said the Rotarians helped with the new playground at Wakamow Valley.

“We have just signed on with YaraCentre to provide sponsorship for a free family fun day on Sunday evenings,” Johnson said.

From 6–8 p.m. on Sundays, the Rotary Family Fun Zone allows families to come and enjoy the YaraCentre facilities free of charge.

Johnson said it’s important to celebrate accomplishments and spread awareness.

The Rotary Club of Moose Jaw is always looking for new members.

Organizations: Rotary Club of Moose Jaw, Heritage Inn

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Canada, Chicago Ottawa Wakamow Valley

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