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  • Paul Van Nest


Successive principals of Queen’s University have been invited to be honorary members of the Rotary Club of Kingston, going back to Principal John Deutsch (1968-1974). The current principal, Patrick Deane, has continued the tradition.

Instrumental in building a relationship with Queen’s was Marsh Laverty who became a Rotarian soon after the war years when he was appointed the university’s first Padre. In the beginning, Queen’s became a source of guest speakers at a number of our weekly meetings’, thanks to his connections and suggestions.

Since 1968, Queen’s University has had an endowment fund set aside in the name of Leonard Brockington, Rector from 1947 until his death in 1966. A Provost Advisory Committee invites a competition for a person of international distinction to visit the university for several days and give public talks. Marsh was able to prevail upon the committee to include an annual presentation to the Kingston club in that person’s schedule.

The first Brockington Lecturer was the former Prime Minister, Lester B. Pearson, who spent 8 days in the city. On January 23, 1969, he spoke to us at the LaSalle Hotel (currently the LaSalle Mews building). Other speakers of note: Dr. Buckminster Fuller 1973, Robertson Davies 1980, Alex Colville 1981, Roger Bannister 1982, and Sir Edmund Hillary 1983. For Hillary’s talk, the Kingston-Frontenac Rotary Club was also invited; Sir Edmund certainly didn’t disappoint us!

Queen’s International Centre was greatly assisted with seed money of $45,000 from Rotarian Ed Churchill in 1963.This was the era when the international student population at Queen’s was burgeoning and the need to support them became the university’s priority, especially on the social front. Being an international service organization, Rotary naturally became a partner in the initiation and growth of the centre. Today, the centre is an indispensable component of Queen’s support of its international student population. The Rotarian magazine, a monthly worldwide publication, featured the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Centre: July 19, 1991.

Left to Right: Reg Shadbolt, Casper Pohl, Paul Van Nest, Ron Watts, Ed Churchill and Padre Laverty

In 1955, our club established a bursary for a graduate from one of our local high schools in the name of a former principal of Queen’s and a Rotarian: Robert C. Wallace. In 1990, we established a second award in the name of Padre Laverty. The two funds have grown to a total of $55,000 and generated $2,125 for each awardee in 2019.

And, of course, there is the annual Rotary Nut Drive, the subject of another Rotary Reflection all on its own.

The Rotary Club of Kingston now lodges its archives in the Queen’s University’s Archives. Available to all in Kathleen Ryan Hall on the medical quadrangle are our minutes, weekly newsletters called Ramblings, and our project files. We next intend to scan, label, and index thousands of photos along with these archives.

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