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  • Paul Van Nest


First Rotarians incl Paul Harris

Rotary in Kingston started in 1921 mirroring a social networking movement that had begun in 1905 in Chicago. Rotary founder, Paul Harris was a lawyer who longed for business friendships. On February 23, he invited three acquaintances - a mining engineer, a merchant tailor, and a coal dealer - to an evening meeting. [Harris is pictured 2nd from the left.] They agreed to meet again in another office and to invite others from different vocations. This social network composed of businessmen of diverse vocations met regularly and ‘rotated’ their meeting places. This general concept remains fundamental to Rotary today.

Word of Rotary spread to San Francisco, then Oakland, Seattle, and Los Angeles. Five years into the movement, in 1910, Rotary became international with the establishment of the Rotary Club of Winnipeg. By 1925, twenty years later and four years after the Rotary Club of Kingston was formed, there were over 200 clubs around the world and membership was 20,000.

Back to 1907, the Chicago Rotary Club shifted its tone from purely social and supporting each other’s businesses to that of service to the community. The club first supported the installation of a public comfort station (otherwise known as toilets) in Chicago’s City Hall. Then, a Rotarian – a doctor - lost his horse in an accident so the members pooled their money and bought him a horse. These fledgling acts of service have multiplied a million times over. In the last 30 years alone, Rotary and its partners have reduced the incidence of polio worldwide from 300,000 cases a year to about 20 last year and have raised nearly $1.5 billion towards its eradication. You, the readers, have helped Kingston Rotarians in this: thank you!

The basic concept of a Rotary wheel was adopted in 1912. As the wagon wheel look evolved, it took an engineer to point out that, without a keyway (a notch in the wheel and a fitted gear on the shaft), the shaft would simply spin inside the wheel. It would do no work. In 1922, the present symbol was adopted with the keyway to signify the wheel as a worker and not as an idler.

The Objects of Rotary, originally accepted in 1922, have changed over the past century to better reflect our members, communities, and ideals.

  1. The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service.

  2. High ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying by each Rotarian of his or her occupation as an opportunity to serve society.

  3. The application of the ideal of service by every Rotarian to their personal, business, and community lives.

  4. The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional women and men, united in the ideal of service.

Rotary is non-discriminatory, non-political, and non-religious. Membership is open to all. We do hope that these Rotary Reflections published during our centennial year will encourage more Kingstonians to embrace Rotary’s philosophy of Service Above Self and consider joining one of our clubs.

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