Bowmanville Rotary celebrates 100 years of ‘Service Above Self’


Published April 22, 2024 at 9:29 am

Bowmanville Rotary

Bowmanville Rotary will celebrate a century of service above self Saturday night at a gala event in Oshawa – a fitting location as the Oshawa Rotary Club was Bowmanville’s sponsor in 1924.

The club was officially born with 17 charter members on March 6, 1924 at 6:15 p.m. at Bowman House in Bowmanville when Rotary District Governor Andy Wallace presented Charter Number 1613 to President Tom Holgate.

Much has changed since then, especially in the club’s demographic makeup. At its inception, Rotary International was a men-only organization, with women in support roles, but that changed in 1989 and women have become full Rotary members and dynamic leaders, both locally and as part of Rotary’s 1.4 million members around the world.

“It was my honour to be invited to join the club early in 1992,” says Pauline Calvert, who is one of 60 members and was the club’s second woman member. “It was a great thrill for me, when a year into my membership, the club president announced at a meeting that the greatest progress Bowmanville Rotary had ever made was the decision to welcome women to the club and he wished it had happened earlier. There has been no looking back.”

In 2000, Calvert went on to become the club’s second woman president, and her husband John Burns is the current Rotary District 7070 Governor, overseeing more than 55 clubs in southern Ontario.

Through its service projects and direct donations, the Rotary Club of Bowmanville supports dozens of organizations, at home and internationally. Its annual summer respite program for families with special needs children is one of its signature projects, as is its support for education in the Mattawa First Nations of Northern Ontario and the establishment of a new Maternal Health Centre in Bukere, Uganda, in collaboration with two Ugandan clubs.


Rockin’ Rotary Ribs & Brews, which raises more than $100,000 every summer, is one of the club’s signature annual fundraisers

The club’s fundraisers include the hugely popular Rockin’ Rotary Ribs & Brews, which raises more than $100,000 every summer; the annual Concert to Feed the Need in Durham; and its annual Christmas tree sales, organized by Ted Watson, the club’s longest serving member, who joined in 1990. “It’s my way of giving something to the community,” explained Watson.

Rotary’s motto of ‘Service Above Self’ has stood the test of time.

“A hundred years of Rotary and service to our community is an amazing achievement,” said club president Chris Zelasko. “Our members continue to be excited and dedicated to making Bowmanville and Clarington a fantastic place to live and grow and we strive every day for a better tomorrow.”

Saturday’s gala will be held at the Courtyard by Marriott on Bloor Street in Oshawa, located just minutes west of the Clarington border. The event begins at 6 p.m.

indurham's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising