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Our History

Organized June 18, 1918 as club No. 429 in District No. 9

Paul Harris was the founder and organizer of the first Rotary club in Chicago in 1905.

The inaugural meeting of our Rotary club was held at the Y.M.C.A. on June 18th, 1918. There were 53 members present.

In order to provide funds to purchase a car for the city nurse, the club staged its first Community Night on September 23, 1922. It consisted of a large parade of floats, bands, and costume-clad citizens. This venture turned out to be a success and was adopted by the club as an annual event to raise funds to provide the necessary money to look after expenses in connection with its permanent project of caring for children with physical disabilities. Today, the festivities fall over the third weekend in July known as “ROTARYFEST, The Sault’s Summer Festival.”

Rotary club memberships internationally were for males only until 1989. Six female Rotarians were inducted into our club at the 1990 inaugural meeting. The number of outstanding women in our club has grown to almost 30% of our entire membership, and continues to grow as we strive to welcome a diverse group of community leaders into our club each year.

From the earliest days of Rotary, members referred to each other on a first name basis. Since personal acquaintanceship and friendship are cornerstones of Rotary, the practice is to set aside formal titles. This tradition is still in effect today.

Past District Govenors


1922 — Community night — the first parade was held to provide funds to purchase a car for the city nurse.

1923 — Crippled Children Clinic — The club undertook to look after crippled children in the district. Until 1947, only one doctor came from Toronto.

1927 — Flowers and Sick Visitation Committee — Each member contributes once a year, at the time of his or her birthday, to finance flowers, fruit baskets and cards for any Rotarian who is ill.

1938 — Rural Relations — The Club started participating in the 4H club movement with one Dairy Calf Club.

1952 — Rotary Children’s Centre Since its inception, approximately $240,000 has been expended on the Rotary Children’s Centre and its preceding units. It currently operates in the former James Lyons School building and has been renamed the Children’s Rehabilitation Centre -Algoma.

1956 — Sports Celebrities Dinner — Held annually to honour our local athletes and is highlighted by the presentation of the H. P. Broughton Memorial Trophy.

1957 — Tennis Court — A five-year agreement struck with the St. Mary’s River Boat Club to rebuild and maintain the tennis courts for the exclusive use of the children and instructors, the first of many Rotary tennis courts throughout the city.

1960 — Davey Home –Installation of a public address system and piped-in music.

1968 — St. Mary’s River Boat Club — The land of the burned-out boat club was acquired to provide a club house and equipment to be maintained by the YMCA for outdoor, summer youth activities. It is now known as RYTAC.

1975 — Snowarama –Started by Whipper Billy Watson and organized by service clubs, the first was held on St. Joseph’s Island with 170 riders completing the 100 mile course and raising over $16,000.

1981 — Thankful Tankful — Rotarians manned the gas pumps at Esso stations throughout the city to raise money for The Easter Seal Telethon.

1982 — The Rotary Easter Seal Superthon — This yearly star-studded telethon has become the number one fund raiser for Easter Seals locally.

1988 — Science Fair — Stimulates an interest in science and technology among young Canadians in elementary and secondary school.

1995 — Battle of the Sections — Sponsored by Petro Canada. Started here to raise funds for “Kids First!” The Easter Seal Telethon by passing the hat at a Greyhound game.

1996 — It was decided in increase the cost of Car Draw tickets from $5 to $20. They had originally been $1, then increased to $2 or 3 for $5 and more recently to $5.

1998 — Rotary Play Centre – Bellevue Park — In June 1998 the Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie in cooperation with the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board opened the new playground in the park. The $130,000 donation more than doubled the size of the existing playground.

1998 — Sault Area Hospitals’ Pediatrics — Rotarians begin an ongoing program by supplying small necessities: soap, shampoo, conditioner, combs and toothpaste.

1998 — Therapeutic Ride Program — In the summer of 1999 Woodland Springs offered the stables as a venue for the ride program and conducted four very successful six-week ride programs.

2002 — Children’s Rehabilitation Centre of Algoma -The Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie donates $25,000 so that the Children’s Centre can upgrade their day care facility to meet provincial standards to become a full day program.

2002 — $25,000 was committed over the next two years to the Cardiac Care Unit of the Sault Area Hospital for heart monitors.

2005 — $24,000 was pledged to the Sault Area Hospital Foundation over the next two years for a new procedure light for the minor O. R. Unit.

2005 — $86,000 was donated to purchase additional playground equipment for Bellevue through a joint Rotary Centennial Project with Sault North Rotary. The city donated $50,000.

2007 — $100,000 pledged over a five-year term in support of the Sault Area Hospital