North Bay celebrates 100 years of Rotary

·3 min read

This morning the Rotary flag was hoisted high above North Bay’s City Hall to acknowledge the club’s 100 years of service in the city. Today is Rotary Day, Mayor Peter Chirico proclaimed, as the icy wind unfurled the banner for all to see.

“Today is a really special day, celebrating a hundred years of service to our community,” Mayor Chirico said. “They do so much for our community – often quietly in the background – and they help our youth. Rotary makes our community a much better place.”

North Bay would not be the same without the efforts of these committed volunteers. The list of their contributions is long, but some highlights include donating $500,000 to the hospital, $750,000 for a therapeutic pool and $125,000 to the Learning Library.

Rotary has helped fund breast screening equipment and is currently constructing downtown, a fully accessible playground that can accommodate all children. And lest we forget the Rotary Splash Pad, an instant hit with the kids and their families since the ribbon was cut last May.

See: New playground coming to North Bay’s downtown waterfront

There are three chapters in North Bay, the Rotary Club of North Bay, the Rotary Club of North Bay – Nipissing, and the Rotaract Club of North Bay – Nipissing, the latter of which is aimed more toward the younger demographic.

Camp Tillicum is another big-ticket item Rotary helps produce. It’s a camp for youth run in partnership with the YMCA. Rotary also recently donated money for a retinal scanner to help diagnose kids’ eye problems.

“We keep busy,” said Grace Doiron, the President of the Rotary Club of North Bay. Asked to reflect on 100 years, she was awed by the number of hours volunteers have put into the town. “When you stop to think about how much work has gone into those 100 years, it’s incredible.”

“And the need is always going to be there,” so she sees a future with many more centuries of Rotary service.

Rotary began in Chicago in February 1905. Attorney Paul Harris founded the group and in 1912, Rotary went international when a charter opened in Winnipeg. Time moved on and more charters opened, including North Bay’s, which began in 1923.

There were 25 members of that inaugural chapter, and Dr. Rupert Dudley was its first President. The club was officially chartered on May 17, 2023.

Since the beginning, the Rotary’s motto has been “Service Above Self.”

Valerie Edmunds, President of the Rotaract Club of North Bay – Nipissing, emphasized the Rotary’s mission is to help others. “We give back to the community, we try to do whatever we can.”

“We’ve been here for 100 years and have been putting a lot of work into the community,” said Mark Lamontagne, President of the Rotary Club of North Bay – Nipissing, “and this is so special to be recognized this way.”

“Every day is Rotary Day for us,” he joked, “but this is a very special day for sure. To see the smiles on everyone’s faces and the pride of the members, I want to say thanks to all of them. It’s nice to see the smiles.”

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,