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  • Doug Townsend

1985 – A Third Rotary Club Was Born in Kingston

By 1985, Rotary had been established in Kingston for 64 years. The original club had sponsored clubs in both Napanee (1926) and Gananoque (1931), and by the mid-1960s, there appeared to be room for a second club in Kingston. Breaking from the fairly standard pattern of noon-hour meetings since Rotary’s inception, the Rotary Club of Kingston sponsored the Kingston-Frontenac Club, an evening club, in 1966.

In the 1980s, Rotary International was noticing an interesting pattern. The clubs meeting over lunch or dinner were not growing, and the only real growth in Rotary worldwide was coming from a number of start-up clubs which met over breakfast. John Holland of the Kingston Club and Fred Richmond of the Kingston-Frontenac Club were asked to scout out the interest level for a third club to in the mornings. They held a promotional social event encouraging Rotarians to attend and bring along a potential member of the proposed new club.

Not being a morning person, Fred recalls being skeptical at first but was surprised at the immediate level of interest. Within two months, they had a list of 25 entrepreneurs and business managers who wanted to form the initial membership of what was to become the Cataraqui-Kingston Rotary Club. There was a proviso that the meetings had to be finished by 8:30 a.m. so everyone could get to work on time.

The Club received its Charter in April 1985 and had its first official meeting on May 11, 1985 with 29 charter members. The Club grew quickly to more than 50 members before settling down to long-term membership numbers in the 30s and 40s. The first President was Gary Porter, an accountant, while John Holland and Fred Richmond will forever be known as the Club’s Godfathers.

The Cataraqui-Kingston Rotary Club has been an important part of the Kingston community since it began, raising funds initially through its Lobsterfest and Bingos, and more recently through its annual TV and internet year-end Auction. The club directs those funds to smaller community projects that would otherwise not get done, especially those involving youth, education, and food security. Local grants have averaged about $30,000 annually in recent years. On the international front in the last 10 years, the club has donated at least $10,000 annually to collaborative projects with Rotary clubs all over the world and, with The Rotary Foundation’s Matching Grant program, this has been bumped up to $150,000 over those ten years.

The Rotary Club of Cataraqui-Kingston meets every Tuesday at the Oddfellows Hall on Concession Street, beginning at 7:00 a.m. and still finishing at 8:30 a.m. without fail!

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