The caption for this photo at Hoskins Ford said it is the Rotary Club at a charter banquet in April 1952 in Smithers.

The caption for this photo at Hoskins Ford said it is the Rotary Club at a charter banquet in April 1952 in Smithers.

Rotary Club turns 106

It has been a staple organization of the Bulkley Valley since 1952, and the Smithers Rotary Club is joining their international umbrella in celebrating 106 years serving the world.

The local group began in Smithers with the signing into being of the sizeable  group, with Gordon Williams part of the first executive, and remains the only remaining original Rotary member who is still an active member.

A photo of the initial Rotary Club adorns a wall in Hoskins Ford dealership.

Rotary as a whole actually began in 1905 in Chicago, said Smithers Rotarian Sharon Hartwell.

The first four Rotarians in existence were Gustavus Loehr, Silvester Schiele, Hiram Shorey and Paul Harris.Rotary’s mission statement is to provide service to others, promote integrity and advance world understanding, goodwill and peace.

Locally it has been a powerhouse of community support.

When the town had two separate Rotary Clubs — an evening and a morning club — the evening club was said to raise about $50,000 a year. The morning club about $20,000, thanks in large part to the annual golf tournament.

“Conservatively, we can say that the Rotary Club in the area … has redistributed funds of over $1 million back into the community since its inception.”

The club did undergo a change last year when the two clubs were merged.

“It was just too much to try to keep the morning club going and trying to meet all the requirements for what was happening,” said Hartwell.

With the turnaround in the membership, it was getting difficult for two groups to compete for members.

The Smithers club has done a lot for the community. Their website, www.smithersrotary.ca, lists the Trail to Town ski trail and a proposed foot bridge across the Bulkley River as it’s most recent projects.

Money raised here also goes to the international Rotary to help out in areas such as with the Haiti earthquake relief.

The club currently has 22 members, and Hartwell, with just a hint of an effort of recruitment, says that more is always better.