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The History of The Rotary Club of Simcoe

Part 1 -  The Years 1925-1945

The Club was officially launched on the evening of Monday, May 9, 1925 with 100 Rotarians present at the Trinity Parish Hall.

In 1925, the Club had 21 members with Dawson F. Aiken as President. Simcoe's parent club is The Rotary Club of Brantford.

Within a month of receiving its charter, the club had raised $ 6,000 in "a whirlwind campaign" from public subscriptions to provide a sunroom addition to the newly-opened Norfolk General Hospital 'It was an auspicious beginning and it set a standard that only a determined and Rotary-inspired group of men could maintain."

Before the end of 1925, the Club promoted a county-wide organization--the Norfolk County Chamber of Commerce with charter Rotary member A. W. (Bill) Donly as first president. The Norfolk Chamber is credited with a prominent role in the establishment of the flue-cured tobacco industry in Canada, reforestation, cow testing, and fruit growing.
The tobacco growing industry attracted several thousands of Belgians, Hollanders, Southerners, Czechs, Hungarians, and other Europeans to Norfolk County. The Rotary Club invited leaders of these groups to speak to the club. Also, the Club was involved in English classes for New Canadians at various points in Norfolk County.
Tobbaco Field
During the dirty thirties with the depression bringing difficult times, Rotary organized the Simcoe Community Welfare League. With the help of the Lions and Simcoe Kinsmen, a house to house canvass raised $ 4,000.00 the first year for the town's needy families. The league continued for several years until superseded by the Simcoe Public Welfare Board.
In the early thirties, the relationship of the Club with the Ontario Society for Crippled Children began. A survey in 1932, discovered 37 children in Norfolk County in need of special treatment because of disease or injury. Early fundraising projects for crippled children were band concerts, choir recitals and operettas. These gave way to the Easter Seals campaigns with the proceeds split 50/50 between the Club and Ontario Society for Crippled Children.
During World War II, the Club lost many of its younger members to war service but the Club "weathered the war years in good shape and its members have given notable service" to Victory Loans, Red Cross campaigns, The Simcoe War Fund Association, the Blood Donors' Clinic and allied causes.
Simcoe Armoury 1939

 One of the Club's activities during the war years, was it's initiative in petitioning Town Council to establish a Parks Board. Simcoe is fortunate to have an abundance of parks and open spaces.

Downtown Simcoe Park


1925-1945-The club's meeting place was the Melborne Hotel each Monday at noon and other meeting places were the Governor Simcoe Hotel, the St. James United Church schoolroom and the Norfolk Golf and Country Club.