International Fellowship of Rotarian Physicians

We are a global group in 20 countries with good networking through a Google group. We are mostly doctors, but also have members in other health related professions such as hospital administration, nursing etc. We tend to support local health initiatives with our hands on efforts. Some groups undertake regular volunteering in overseas countries in specific hospitals in Africa and South America.

We undertake health promotion and health screening in Conferences and particularly at RI Conventions.

 
2008 Conventions LA
 
US Health Camp
 
IFRP -Kolkata Chapter

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Return to www.clubhistory.org
This section is www.canadaclubs.org
 

The history of Rotary, in Canada, was crucial to the spread of Rotary around the world. Rotary, in its centennial year of 2005, paid little attention to the brave work of James Wheeler Davidson & James Layton Ralston, The Calgary & Halifax Rotarians who carried Rotary “Around the World” or the early clubs from that huge country. This section of the history project was undertaken in 2001 to add to the knowledge of what Canada did for Rotary. Much of this work was contributed by the late PDG James Angus.  

Edited and posted by Jack M. B. Selway, RGHF Founder 13 August 2001. revised 3 July 2010

ROTARY GLOBAL HISTORY SECTION HOME The History of Rotary in Canada HISTORY OUTLINE RI ARCHIVES HISTORY CALENDAR
1910-1912 1913-1915 GOODWILL DONALD MACRAE JIM DAVIDSON JIM RALSTON
FIRST SEVEN CLUBS PRESIDENTS PRESIDENTS’ BIOS CONVENTIONS PEACE AWARD EXTENSION AWARD
CHAIR: PDG JAMES ANGUS DISTRICTS EARLY LEADERS FIRST IN EACH REGION WHAT’S NEW? UPDATES – COMMITTEE
History of Zone 24
Rotary International Presidents from Canada (biographies here)

Rev. E. Leslie Pidgeon 1917

Dr. Crawford McCullough 1921

 John R. Nelson 1933

Arthur Lagueux 1950

Wilfrid J. Wilkinson 2007

Rotary International Conventions held in Canada

Histories of the Canadian Conventions (more)

Convention home pages below:

Toronto 1924

Harris’ Message to the first convention in Canada.

Toronto 1942

Toronto 1964

Montreal 1975

Toronto 1983

Calgary 1996

Montreal 2010 (Booklet Prepared for R.I. Convention, Montreal, 2010)

 

Read all of the convention histories

Find all the Canadian District histories at districthistory.org and at 5010 5040 5050 5060 5080 5360 5370 5550 5580 6290 6330 6380 6400 7010 7040 7070 7080 7090 7790 7810 7820 7850
The seven Canadian “First 100” Clubs

Zone 22

>

7070 Toronto

5040 Vancouver

7820 Halifax

7090 Hamilton

7040 Montreal

5020 Victoria

 

55

61

81

82

85

90

 

1 March 1913

1 April 1913

1 August 1913

1 August 1913

1 October 1913

1 January 1914

* Not chartered until 13 Apr 1912  *Made Rotary International

The advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.�  -The Fourth Object of Rotary initially composed by Donald MacRae.</style=”font-size:>

<style=”font-size: 9pt”=””> 1910-1912 plus a 1914 report from The Rotarian and photos of early leaders

 

1913-1915 history

</style=”font-size:>

<style=”font-size: 9pt”=”” color=”#800000″> James Wheeler Davidson, James Layton Ralston, and Donald MacRae</style=”font-size:>

The Calgary & Halifax Rotarians who carried Rotary “Around the World”

<style=”font-size: 9pt”=”” color=”#800000″><style=”font-size: 9pt”=””> The story of how one Canadian Learn more about former RI VP Jim Davidson, from RC of Calgary who was asked in 1928 to “strengthen the slender chain of clubs between Europe and Japan.”</style=”font-size:>

</style=”font-size:>

Read about Col. James Layton Ralston, (left) also Rotary’s commissioner Donald MacRae, a driving force being “service” in Rotary. Also listed under www.earlyleaders.org

Also see the Zone 22 Peace Award

Some Canadian Achievements and Landmarks in Rotary

Winnipeg Rotary Club, Manitoba, has the distinction of being the Club that made Rotary international.

It was, thus, both natural and appropriate that Walter Clubb, President of the Winnipeg Club was given the honor to propose the change of name of our organization from the National to the International Association of Rotary Clubs at the Duluth Convention in 1912. Duluth also allowed for one vice-president of the association representing Canada.

The Winnipeg Club would also give Rotary its first Canadian International President in the Rev E. Leslie Pidgeon (1917-18). Crawford McCullough of Fort William, Ontario followed in 1921-22. In 1933-34 Montreal Rotary Club’s John Nelson served as President of Rotary International.

Canadian Rotarians Donald McRae and Charlie Burchell contributed greatly to the Rotary Constitution. Burchell was a founder member of Halifax Rotary Club, Nova Scotia and he would also become a Rotary International 3rd Vice-President 1925-6. McRae, District Governor 1917-18, was Dean of the Dalhousie Law School and Chairman of the incoming Committee on the Constitution and By-laws as appointed by President Estes (‘Pete’) Snedecor. These two lawyers helped draft the Fourth Object covering Peace, Goodwill and World Understanding that was accepted at the 1922 Rotary Convention in Los Angeles.

As 1960/61 President-elect Nitish C. Laharry said at the Tokyo Convention, this was  “The moment we forget International in Rotary, we may as well forget Rotary itself”. In 1955, RI President Herbert J Taylor wrote a letter of thanks to McRae for his work describing it as “that most important milestone in the History”.

Rotary as a Canadian national movement never really took off. One explanation derives from the first ever district conference (unofficial) held on February 21st 1914 between the Pacific North West Clubs of Seattle, Tacoma, Portland and Spokane and their British Columbia neighbors of Vancouver and Victoria. These clubs had a link in that they all derived from their mother club – Seattle Rotary Club.

This link was of fundamental importance as, when in 1915, at the San Francisco Convention, districts were introduced, Vancouver and Victoria were placed along with their Canadian colleagues in a West/ Prairie Canadian District (District 18) encompassing British Columbia, Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Vancouver and Victoria did not wish to leave the fellowship they had established with their American neighbors and successfully were re-united with the Pacific North West Rotary Clubs. Thus, the first International District was formed.

Today, the district system from Ontario to British Columbia naturally forms Canada-USA districts running North to South rather than simply adopting a nationalist approach.  Examples include District 6330 and 6400 covering both Michigan USA and Ontario, Canada. District 5020 covers both the Province of British Columbia and Washington State. District 7090 encompasses both New York State and Ontario. Canadian and American Rotarians are naturally the best of friends.

Perhaps the roots to such friendship derive from  1924 when Bruce Richardson, Chairman of the Winnipeg Club’s Program Committee joined forces with Minnesota Rotary Clubs to hold a meeting devoted to “International Friendship and Goodwill”. Eleven U.S. and seven Canadian Clubs met. These became an annual event with President Emeritus Paul Harris attending in 1929.

In 1922, at the LA Convention, Canadian Clubs asked for the creation of a Canadian Advisory Committee. The committee was not a replica of the British territorial unit but a less formal gathering. Section 6 helped define its purpose: – “Any matter of policy exclusively national to Canadian Clubs or Canadian Rotary shall be first referred to the Committee herein, for consideration and their recommendation, that the Board of Rotary International may be guided in their actions by the said recommendations.”

Source –
Rotary in Canada : 75 Years of Service Above Self

Calum Thomson

RIBI and RI History of Districts

 

Winnipeg and the International Goodwill Weekend From the December 2010/January 2011 issue of “Canada History.”

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Everett W. Hill, 1924-25

(later moved to Polson, Montana USA)

President Hill’s convention page

<style=”font-size: 9pt”=””> Club 29 has been serving others for ninety years. Oklahoma City boasted a population of only 50,000 when, in 1909, a group of businessmen organized a club with membership made up of representatives of different businesses and professions. The club took the name “Iron Cross Club.” </style=”font-size:>

Lee B. Mettler, President of the Kansas City Rotary Club, visited the club in November 1910. He was struck by the similarity in the membership of Rotary with the Oklahoma City group and proposed the Oklahoma City group join the Rotary association of clubs being formed. They filed for admission to the National Association of Rotary Clubs of America on November 22, 1910.

The Oklahoma City group was accepted by Rotary and a charter was issued naming the group the 29th club in Rotary as of November 7, 1911.

 District 17 Conference – 1919 with a cover photo of “Black Jack” Pershing (courtesy Wolfgang Ziegler collection)

 Included in the guest list, the RI president, Governors of Kansas & Oklahoma and Secretary Ches Perry

Oklahoma’s “100+” Clubs

Oklahoma City 29

Muskogee 87

FELLOWSHIP OF ROTARIANS FOR THE PREVENTION OF DRUG ABUSE

A Part of Our History of Rotary Fellowships

Note that the name was changed from “Rotary International Drug Abuse Prevention Action Group” to “Fellowship of Rotarians for the Prevention of Drug Abuse”.

INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP OF SKIING ROTARIANS

Skiing is enjoyed worldwide by thousands of Rotarians and their families of all ages and abilities. What better and more enjoyable avenue to build new friendships and international understanding than to join your fellow Rotarians and sharpen your skills on the slopes of the world or see the world on cross-country skis! Not only will your physical fitness improve, but with a closer understanding of Rotary ideals your spirit will be enriched as well.

By joining the Fellowship, you will not only meet Rotarians from around the world who share your interest in skiing, but you will create lasting friendships

The First Annual International Skiing Fellowship Meeting was held in Vail, Colorado, in February of 1974. Since that firstmeeting, Rotarian ski events have been held in the USA in California, Colorado, Idaho, Massachusetts, Utah and Wyoming. Canada has hosted events in Alberta and British Columbia. The Rotary Ski World has held events in Italy and Austria.

The Ski Fellowship annual meeting and ski week is held each year in a different location. Area events are sponsored by Rotary Clubs through-out the world and are included in the articles and calendar of our Fellowship newsletters.

The International Skiing Fellowship of Rotarians is a group of Rotarians dedicated to promoting skiing as an opportunity for fellowship and service. This fellowship operates in accordance with Rotary International policy, but is not an agency of, or controlled by, Rotary International

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President’s Name Arch C. Klumph*
Presidential Year 1916-1917
Theme none
Home Town (Cleveland, Ohio, USA)
Convention Host/
Convention History
Atlanta, GA, USA
June 17-21 (2,588)
Other Information
Listed as one of Rotary’s “Early Leaders” & considered the founder of today’s Rotary Foundation
Lesson from an Old Memory: The story of The Rotary Foundation
Klumph’s connection to England’s Prime minister and the assassin of President Lincoln
The Rotary Foundation dedicates the “Arch Klumph Room”
In The Rotarian (February 1915)
1951 Tribute by Crawford
Bio from The Rotarian (1916)

Rotary International Fellowship – Old and Rare Antique Books and Prints

The Fellowship is open to:
Rotary � Rotaract � Interact � Inner Wheel

Its aims are:
� Promoting friendship and the exchange of information on a global scale among those Rotarians who share a common interest for antique books and prints;
� Transmitting the knowledge and love for old books to other Rotarians, especially the younger ones;
� Taking advantage of the latest means of communication, which allow an easy access to a heritage which, in our District, happens to be among the richest in the world.
During its initial stage, the Fellowship will operate thanks to the generous support of Biblioteca Queriniana di Brescia (one of the oldest and most famous libraries in the country). We shall benefit of its computer facilities and of the assistance of its Director Aldo Pirola, who is to be appointed Secretary of the new Fellowship.
As requested by International Regulations, the initiative has received the approval of three Governors of three different countries, and was approved by the Central Council of Rotary International in November2006.
It has therefore been enclosed in the list of the Rotary Fellowships and is, to all intents and purposes, already active on the website: rotaryoldbooks.org

Why this kind of fellowship:
� Because among Rotarians all over the world there are numerous keen connoisseurs of antique books and prints;
� Because our District and Italy in general are abundantly endowed with this kind of cultural heritage, which, being unique, deserves protecting;
� Because the present internet facilities permit such access and consultation as were unthinkable in the past.

But above all because –
� Culture is the one element that offers multiple opportunities for a harmonious dialogue with the different realities of our world and our society.
� Because the cultural advancement of mankind is as relevant as its economic and social progress.

We trust that our project will succeed in promoting both knowledge and love for old books, while creating a pool of information accessible to all Rotarian bibliophiles, among which we have the pleasure of mentioning the Present President Bill Boyd, who quite recently declared to belong to a family of book lovers. We also hope that the use of internet will help overcoming the well-known lending reluctance that affects most bibliophiles, a diffidence which was well expressed by a medieval bibliophile:

Librum meum non prestabo, si prestabo non habebo, si habebo
non tam cito, si tam cito non tam bonum, si tam bonum perdo
amicum: Ergo nolo praestare librum.

Culture in the Rotary Clubs to the advancement of society
�It behoves to culture to promote new ideas and needs less tied to material objects, to form a class of better educated and civically conscious citizens, to create the means by which foreign cultures might meet, to promote the knowledge of foreign languages for better communication, enhancing not so much what is local but what is common to all�.
These meaningful words are, in my opinion, a compendium of the role culture should play, becoming a source where a person, who accepts life both as a challenge and a responsibility, might find his/her proper spiritual nourishment. According to the most advanced interpretation in anthropological research, by �culture� one generally means the entirety of experience, learning, system of values, choice of ways of life and modes of behaviour, through which an individual may refine and express the peculiar spiritual talents and physical endowment that will permit him/her to attempt at gaining power over nature through the discovering of its laws, and at modifying some of its aspects by means of sustained effort, while striving to make life within society more acceptable, both at family and community levels promoting personal habits and institutions.
From a historical point of view, on the other hand, culture expresses, communicates and preserves works that transmit the great experiences and spiritual aspirations of mankind, thus putting itself at the service of its progress.
Thus perceived, culture is every nation�s special heritage, reflecting their spirit and initiative, creative powers, technical and practical abilities, thus embodying the very reasons that made that nation, through the endless running of the centuries, worthy of respect and consideration. It is therefore hard, not to say impossible, to imagine that culture, the very product of intelligence and will power, which expresses the peculiar identity of each human being, might be turned into an element of restriction, of subordination, and an obstacle to the growth and development of mankind. Culture can and must be the foundation of any true moral and civic advancement of a nation.
Unfortunately, in the course of the twentieth century,culture did not progress as one might have wished or indeed expected; on the contrary, it suffered from long periods of profound disorientation condemned, as it was, to secondary roles of subordination. The causes of what may correctly be defined a cultural crisis are to be found in the historical circumstances that characterised the century.
The whole world as well as our own country are overcome by the winds of insecurity, fear, mistrust, and anxiety about the future. But if we show the will, the energy, and the courage to restore life and voice to culture, there may be good reasons for hope.
In particular all of us Rotarians, in an effort to dispel this deep feeling of disorientation, ought to take upon ourselves the heaviest burden of responsibilities towards the community, the environment, and every single human being. Fulfilling this duty represents an indispensable basis to prove our awareness of the significance of the facts, when they relate to the fundamental meaning of life, of the environment, of solidarity, in short, of the individual as a person called by destiny to transcendence.
Not only do the study of humanities and culture restore our dignity as human beings, but they provide us with the correct choices whether political, economic or social. Moreover, culture gives a meaning to all daily events, both private and public, whereby a horizon of hope might open upon present and future history.
Welcome to culture, then, which has been scorned, forgotten, and often manipulated to achieve base ends.
It will offer us food for discussion, thought, and investigation upon issues that concern all of us, and would otherwise be in the hands of the few, let alone remain unresolved. What is needed are reference points that may prove firm and open to testing.
What is needed is going back to truth, to a culture free from conditioning, from ideologies, not enslaved by regimes or parties, as in the worst of tyrannies. Culture will prove to be our best instrument in rising from the dev� astation suffered by the moral values of our country and to restore us to the rank of nation. �The common glories of our past, the common will for the present, having accomplished great feats together, the desire to accomplish more, these are the fundamental conditions for the making of a nation. A heritage of glories and remorse for what concerns the past, a common project for the future: the existence of a nation may be considered a daily plebiscite.�

I had a telephone conversation with dear Prof. Tristano Bolelli, founder and long President of the Galileo Galilei Award. On that occasion he reminded me that words are the essential vehicle of culture, the voice through which some of the great Muses find expression. Obviously as we all know Prof. Bolelli was a great, illustrious glottologist. Nor am I less convinced of the fundamental importance of the �word�.
Accordingly, since its earliest days, Rotary was especially concerned with the transmission of science, culture, and information. And we Rotarians, Paul Harris�s distant heirs, cannot but share his concern, and we pledge to renew his commitment, convinced as we are that learning and knowledge mean understanding, and understanding will generate mutual respect and friendship, which are among the noblest Rotarian ideals. With a view of exalting the functions of intelligence, science, and culture, Rotary Italy created the Galileo Galilei Award, which grows yearly in importance and recognition, so as to be considered the Italian Nobel Prize.
Our District is proud to announce that a project has been recently established as a Rorary Fellowship (Old and Rare Books and Prints). It is a socially and culturally worthy initiative, aimed at promoting friendly global exchange of information among those Rotarians who share the love for antique books and prints. And since I am aware that a new mode of thinking is on the way among the best educated and attentive minds, a trend that somewhat looks back to a more balanced relation between the material and the spiritual, I feel entitled to express such attitude. If this idea is right, then it is up to us Rotarians to translate it into realistic terms by planning and promoting a number of specific cultural and educational projects, covering all possible levels especially destined to the younger generation since they represent our future.

Allow me to start a conversation on antique books with this self-evident truth:� None of us would be what we are had our forefathers not possessed the instrument that enabled them to hand down to us the knowledge of what they were and did!�
Generation after generation, even the most distant in time, have left their imprints on the planet. Prehistoric man was a person like any of us, complete with his own complex inner self; and yet he could but carry such �human� heritage to his grave, because, deprived as he was of a writing system, he was unable to give it permanence. Indeed, it is writing that marks the discrimination between documented fact and Prehistory The road to the development of writing was long and even now is partly undiscovered: probably the process involved the gradual representation of reality, together with all its relative concepts, in a more and more abstract manner, by means of pictograms and ideograms, following models employed in Egypt and in the modern Far East.

In time, such signs must have acquired a phonetic value to replace the conceptual one, becoming, within the Mediterranean area, proper alphabet letters, through the composition of which, it was discovered one could create an infinite number of words to cover the endless demands of factual life. In fact, the �invention� of our writing system is attributed to the Phoenicians, a nation given to commerce. Nevertheless, beside a durable mode of transmission of thought (the alphabet), it was imperative to find a solid material to imprint, i.e. writing material. Nature offered stone, and later metals. During an archaic stage, the inner part of bark was used, which in Latin was called �liber�. But it was undoubtedly the Egyptian papyrus that emerged as the writing material more apt to have a durable employment, not least due to the Rare Antique Books and Prints ductility and resistance provided by strips made by intertwining the fibres from the stems of this plant, which grew plentiful on the banks of the Nile. Such strips could easily be rolled on and off a wooden pivot, forming a scroll called �volumen� from the Latin verb �volvere�, meaning rolling.

The intensive exploitation of the papyrus plantations and the difficulties in procuring it promoted the usage of a different type of writing material, which had been invented and used for centuries in the town of Pergamum, i.e. parchment or vellum (pergamena). It consisted of the skin of a young animal (lamb, goat or calf), duly prepared, smoothed out and cut in sheets, which were then sewn together to produce a series of pages, thus representing the prototype of the modern book format. Out of each single animal one could obtain about four parchment sheets; consequently, in order to copy a Bible, it would have been necessary to sacrifice a whole herd. This also explains why books were, during the whole length of the Middle Ages, extremely precious and rare objects, mainly produced in monasteries, where flocks of sheep and herds of cattle were abundant. The rarity and preciousness of books demanded their being ornamented by polychrome decorations of considerable artistic level; hence, the art of miniature illumination, cultivated for centuries within the medieval scriptoria. In fact, following the fall of the Roman Empire, illumination was for centuries the only form of pictorial art cultivated in the Western world. Working conditions in a monastic scriptorium must have been dire. Freezing in winter, scorching in summer, tall and very hard desks, lack of any form of enlargement tools, and the necessity of self producing the ingredients needed for the job � colours made out of herbs and flowers, ink out of soot, or even gold and silver, brushes from the hair of animal hides and bird feathers to write with � all of which meant rigidly disciplined amanuenses, whose endeavours produced such great masterpieces.

For centuries, the making of books went on by these methods until, around the middle of the 15th century, something occurred that would change the destiny of mankind: the introduction of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg. In the region surrounding Mainz, presses had been used for centuries, both to press grapes and house-linen. What Gutenberg envisaged was the possibility of an innovative application of the press to his own true great invention: the movable types. By pouring an alloy of molten metals into special moulds, he was able to obtain the different letters of the alphabet, which would then be assembled and disassembled to form words. Later, by putting the stencils obtained by such process under the press, it became possible to print the text upon a sheet of paper or vellum. By then, paper made, according to the Chinese technique, out of rags had become of common usage in Europe. The impact of the new technique represented a true revolution, since it made it possible to produce books in large numbers � the new concept of edition � at much lower costs compared with the medieval manuscript. The greater circulation of books was the answer to the increased demand for education of the period, and was the vehicle of Humanism in Europe, together with Renaissance, the protestant Reformation and, along those lines of Enlightenment and of all the vast and articulated ideas which characterize the world we live in. The following centuries saw a growing and better development of the printing methods until mechanical printing machinery was replaced by digital computerized technology. Thus we come to our epoch, beyond the fateful year 1830, which is indicated by the world competent organizations (IFLA = International Federation of Librarian Association) as the discriminating date between antique and modern books.
The Rotarian Fellowship recently founded represents an instrument for knowledge and research into the reality of antique books. Thanks to it, it will be possible to circulate news and information regarding editions, publishers, bindings, illumination, particularly interesting copies from historical, scientific, and economic fields, opening new perspectives of discovery into a territory that has been so far lacking in adequate research and in-depth investigation. Aldo Pirola

RGHF’s list of Missing Fellowship Histories

International Fellowship of Railroading Rotarians

if-rr_website_august_24_2007002001.jpgif-rr_website_august_24_2007002003.jpgThe IF-RR is for Rotarians who have an interest in Railroading of any type!

Steam! Diesel! Model RR!
Rail Fanning! Collecting!
Private Rail Cars, Trolley Cars!

Share ideas, plans, photos!
Visit and see Railroads both model and full scale!

The International Fellowship of Railroading Rotarians is made up of Rotarians who have an interest in railroading in any format, type, size or related interests.  This may consist of steam, diesel, electric, model railroads, rail fan photography, rail travel, railroad collectibles, private rail cars, trolley cars and what ever related interest there is from the membership.

We will arrange railroading activities and events as the membership desires. This may range from organizing or providing assistance for train travel international and national, to sharing tips and ideas for model railroads.  The website and email newsletter are great places to announce railroading events for all to visit and participate.  Perhaps one has visited a historical or preserved railway or has one in their community; this is the place to let others know about it.

The email newsletter and website are a place to show off your interests with photos of trains you have seen, layouts you have visited, models built, etc. It is also a discussion opportunity to get answers to questions you have about railroading. They are a place to share your railroading experiences with others who have the same interest.  You can also swap and sell train memorabilia, model trains and related items.

This fellowship will continue the traditions of railroading around the world.  With Railroading Rotarians communicating and sharing the past, present and further of railroading will be preserved.Don Schiller, PDG
Rotary International District 5490
Prescott, AZ 86303

Rotarian Home Exchange Fellowship

PDF of RHE History 
Home Exchange is the vacation alternative where two families agree to swap homes “you stay in my house while I stay in yours.” The exchange can be as short as a weekend or several months (two to three weeks is usual).

The Rotary Home Exchange Fellowship has encouraged this environmentally friendly, comfortable, and economical activity for over 30 years. Thousands of Rotarians have had glorious vacations and experiences from Taipei to Toronto, San Francisco to Sydney, or London to Los Angeles. International understanding has been improved the old fashioned way, one friendship at a time.

ROTARY, FREEMASONRY AND THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

ROTARY, FREEMASONRY AND THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
This badge was found by our historian colleague, Dr.  Wolfgang Ziegler and triggered off a search for its origin which has not yet been resolved.   The central part of what is otherwise a normal Rotary lapel badge, seems to show the symbols of Freemasonry, the set square and compasses, while the letter ‘G’ in the centre is also an indication of the Scottish Rite of Masonry. We know that many of the early Rotarians were Masons and  that, according to C.R. Hewitt in ‘Towards My Neighbour’, some Rotary clubs recruited exclusively from Freemasons until the practice was banned in the 1920s.  To date, no precise details of these links have been found in the archives of either body.

The relationship was a matter of some discussion and in February 1923, an article in ‘The Rotary Wheel’  sought to allay fears among Rotarians who might think that their membership of the one could cause problems in the other.

However, many people who did not know much about these organisations, thought that Rotary was a form of Masonry.  This eventually led to a much more serious problem when the Catholic Church, which had long been an antagonist of Masonry, classed Rotary as a similar organisation.

Also see the Ziegler Collection G.K. Chesterton who was often a vocal critic of Rotary, was a Catholic convert. and his adherence to the sectarian line may have coloured his views.

The problems seem to have started in Spain about 1928 when  the Bishops of  Almeria, Leon,  Orense, Palencia and Tuy  laid charges that  Rotary is  “nothing else but a new satanic  organisation with the same background and teachings of masonry” and that “according to documents and reliable sources, Rotary is a suspected organisation, and should be considered as execrable and perverse”. The Church also criticised and condemned Rotary for showing  a concept of life and of service without reference to church teaching.  Indeed, it seems that  they believed it a secret society with quasi-religious overtones as many in the Church thought was the case with Freemasonry.  For whatever reason, the Vatican took up the reins and  in 1929 issued a decree that “it is not expedient” for Catholic priests to participate in Rotary either as members or guests. This decree and its implications were worrying to the many Catholics in Rotary not the least the then President Tom Sutton who was himself a Catholic, and former Chancellor Germany Wilhelm Cuno, a member in Hamburg. Critical and at times disparaging articles regularly appeared in Catholic newspapers, especially in the  ‘Civilta Cattolica’ in Italy, and Tom Sutton went off to Rome to try to convince the Papal authorities that Rotary was not Masonic, and that it was a movement which was not in conflict with any Catholic teaching.

Sutton’s attempts to convince the Secretary of State in the Vatican, Cardinal Gaspari, were fruitless and the anti-Rotary articles continued to be published.  An even more virulent article later appeared in Paris in ‘La France Catholique’ making allegations about both Paul Harris and the links between Rotary and Freemasonry, which were later reprinted in the Baltic paper ‘Rytas’.

The factual errors could be, and promptly were shown to be false, and by 1933  there was a mood swing in the Vatican, perhaps partly occasioned by the number of prominent and influential Catholics throughout the world who were joining Rotary.  Priests were now allowed to use their discretion about attending or even joining Rotary.   Nevertheless, one of the results of the Church’s attitude was the slow development of Rotary in some predominantly Catholic countries such as Ireland.  

This uneasy peace continued until 1951 when another Vatican decree warned priests that they should not join Rotary and that “the faithful should be aware of seditious and suspected organisations”.  

By then, however, the world had changed and the decree caused an immediate angry response, among others from the then Catholic President of RI, Arthur Laqueux, and from the Rotarian Catholic Bishop of Fort Wayne, Indiana, who publicly declared  the decree “quite incomprehensible”.

Fairly soon, the Vatican began to retract. The official newspaper ‘Osservatore Romano’ wrote “In some nations, because of a prevalent Masonic influx, the action of Rotary Clubs has conflicted with the activity and the needs of the Church.  It must be said, however, that such has not been the case in other nations where the attitude of Rotary has shown itself in practice tolerant and benevolent towards religious interests.”By the end of the decade, the Catholic Truth Society was able to declare that “Rotary is neither secret nor seditious”.  It was nevertheless still regarded as a “society banned under pain of sin only”  and not of “sin and excommunication”.  Gradually there was a thaw in relations between the Church and Rotary. In 1970 Pope Pius VI addressed Rotarians in Italy, and in 1979 Pope John Paul II spoke to the International Convention in Rome, praising some of Rotary’s humanitarian programmes at a  special audience in the Vatican.  Later he accepted a Paul Harris Fellowship and a World Understanding and Peace Award from Rotary, while Catholic priests throughout the world were taking positions of authority, even serving as District Governors.

As Alvarez points out, it was not only Rotary that was condemned during the 1930s and 1940s.  The Lions Clubs and even the YMCA incurred the wrath of the Vatican. In fact, the condemnation of the Y.M.C.A. was even earlier in 1920 when it was described as “White Masonry”, on the grounds that “such organisation, while showing special concern for the youth, corrupted their faith, teaching them a conception of life dispensing with the Church and all religious teachings. The Y.M.C.A. is contributing to the decay of the youth’s faith, by affirming that its purpose  is to show them a conception of life without churches or religious confession”.