Rotary Waterloo Club History
 
History of the Rotary Club of Waterloo
 
 
In 1922 Rotary International chartered the Rotary Club of Kitchener-Waterloo.  In early 1963, some local Rotarians and a group of Waterloo businessmen pursued the idea of forming a new club and on June 7, 1963 the Rotary Club of Waterloo was chartered.  The minutes from that time indicated there was much discussion about territorial rights and who from the Kitchener Club under the rules of Rotary could belong to the Waterloo Club.
 
The Waterloo Club co-operated with the renamed Rotary Club of Kitchener both in fundraising and in its charitable activities.  The principal project for both Clubs was and continues to be the KidsAbility Centre for Child Development, which until 2002 was known as the Rotary Centre or the Rotary Children’s Centre.
 
In the mid 1960’s Rotary was exclusively a men’s club.  Spouses were very supportive of the activities of both Clubs and formed their own group called the Rotary Anns.
 
Originally the main fundraiser for the Clubs was a two night carnival at the Kitchener Auditorium which concluded with a draw for a donated automobile.  Hundreds of people from the community attended and significant funds were raised.  The carnival continued for several years with the two Clubs sharing the proceeds.  These funds supported the Rotary Centre including a Christmas dinner for children who were treated at the Centre.  Every child received a gift from Santa Claus, purchased and wrapped by the Rotary Anns.
 
In the early 1970’s the Waterloo Club initiated its own fundraiser – Jamaica Night, an evening of Jamaica-themed food and music.  Spouses and older children of Club members all participated in the set-up, preparation and serving of the food and, late in the evening, the clean-up.  This event evolved into Island Fantasy and was truly a builder of Club fellowship.  Approximately $15,000 was raised each year for the Rotary Children’s Centre and other charitable activities.  Later in the 1970’s the Club began the Christmas Citrus Fruit Sale by importing truckloads of fruit from Texas.  Eventually we worked with a wholesaler importing the fruit from Florida.  Thus began our longest lasting fundraiser – over 30 years with many committed customers.
 
The Club opened and funded International House on Albert Street in Waterloo.  For about 10 years we supported foreign students as they arrived in our community and provided a post graduate University couple as advisers.
 
We participated with Dutch Boy Markets in opening the “Rudesheimer Garten” Oktoberfest facility.  Eventually the Club acquired the name and moved the event to the new Waterloo Recreation Complex.  It was a major fundraiser until 2009 when its operation was transferred to other charities.
 
In 2002 the Club initiated the Golf “Fore” KidsAbility tournament at the new Grey Silo golf course in Waterloo.  To date this tournament has raised over $400,000 for KidsAbility and is now our premier fundraising event.
 
The Waterloo Club is a proud and generous contributor to the life of our community and to the International community.  It supported veterans through our contribution to the renovation of the 404 Wing RCAF.  The Club contributed funds to Rink in the Park, the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex and the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery.  At Christmas we help maintain “Wonders of Winter”, a beautiful display of lights in Waterloo Park.
 
The Club has supported young people in our community through Junior Achievement, Rotary Youth Exchange, and the Junior Achievement project, the Economics of Staying in School.  A proud achievement of the Club for many years was our participation in Rotary Youth Exchange.  The Club hosted many students from all over the world and sent out local students in equal numbers.  We provide Rotary Citizenship Awards at high schools in Waterloo and Elmira and we sponsor and mentor two Rotaract Clubs, one at WLU and the other, a community-based club, in Waterloo.
 
A recent major international initiative has been our support of activities in Haiti.  Through FIDA, we funded a three year adult literacy program and partnered with CIDA in an irrigation rehabilitation project.  In addition we have contributed to earthquake relief.
 
Since 1975 the Club has named over 80 Paul Harris Fellows.  This represents a contribution to Rotary International Foundation of over $80,000 for their international charitable projects.
 
Until recently, Club meetings were always held every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m.  Initially, we met at the Westmount Golf and Country Club.  Later we moved to the K-W Granite Club on Agnes St., then the Glenbriar Curling Club, and the Waterloo Motor Inn.  From 1996, meetings were at the Laurel Room, University of Waterloo and in 2013 the Club moved back to the K-W Granite Club, now located at the Rink in the Park on Seagram Drive in Waterloo.
 
In July 2013, we modified our meeting schedule and we now meet at the K-W Granite Club on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month at 6:00 p.m. with the other meetings being replaced by committee or project planning sessions which are held when and where needed.
 
Through the last half century, there have been many charitable projects.  We follow the Rotary motto of Service Above Self and the list of our service is long.  Our members represent a cross section of our city’s population and we look forward to the next half century of service to the Waterloo community.