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  • Elaine McCabe, Margo Warner & Betty Welch

ROTARY ANNS (Kingston)

The term Rotary Anns was conceived by delegates on a train trip from San Francisco to the Rotary Convention in Houston, Texas, in 1914. A woman named Ann had joined her Rotarian husband for the trip and became known as Rotarian’s Ann. When a second Ann boarded the train, the name quickly morphed into Rotary Ann. In 1928, the Rotary Anns became its own organization with the goal of helping support their Rotarian husbands with social, fundraising, and service activities.

The Kingston Club of Rotary Anns made major contributions over the years, raising funds for Easter Seals and the Boys and Girls Club, and sending children in need to RKY Camp. They also assisted with the annual Rotary Nut Drive by driving Queen’s engineering frosh around the city and taking on other associated event jobs like counting money and tracking sales.

For many years over the Christmas season, Rotary Anns distributed food hampers to needy families. One member, Jeanne Ferguson, became famous for her knitting. Even when the organization folded, Jeanne continued to knit scarves, hats, sweaters, and mittens. All were donated to children in need through the Kingston Club’s Rotary Initiated Child Enrichment (RICE) Committee.

In 1985-86, Audrey Shadbolt was president and the ladies set about to raise US$1,000 to be donated to The Rotary Foundation to allow them to award a Paul Harris Fellow. Supplementing their usual fundraisers, they sold out a dinner at the Ambassador, thanks to the entertainment provided by the Music Hall group, Dennis Curtis et al. By vote, the Rotary Anns selected Jeanne Ferguson as the worthy recipient.

Rotary Anns planned many social evenings and events for themselves and their Rotarian husband including dinners, at least one memorable dinner cruise on the Island Queen, and silent auctions as fundraisers. All funds raised remained in the community. There was also a Rotary Ann social bridge group that met for many years.

Although women were welcomed as members into Rotary in Canada in November 1988 (and worldwide on July 1, 1989), Kingston’s Rotary Anns continued their hard work alongside the Rotary Club. In 1997, they decided to join an international organization called The Inner Wheel, also composed of the wives of Rotarians. But it required the club to pay both national and international dues, which only drained funds from local community projects. So, the group reverted to Rotary Anns for another three years before folding.

Editor’s Note: Kingston’s Rotary Anns served our community well for at least 25 years. Today, about one third of membership of Kingston Rotary Clubs is composed of women, many of whom have taken on leadership roles. In fact, many would say that they have exceeded their male counterparts in both service and leadership. We all wonder where Rotary would be without them!

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