District 5040


A Review of District  5040  Numbers

Rotary arrived in the Pacific Northwest of North America when the Vancouver,  B.C. Club was chartered in 1913. RI established districts in 1915 and designated British Columbia, Alaska, Washington, and Oregon as District 15. Three years later, the district number was changed to 22.  In 1937, it was renumbered 101 and Idaho was added, making it the largest geographical district in the world of Rotary. The number changed again in 1949 to 151, but the district was reduced in size. In 1956, the District was split into two, and a year later the 151 part was renumbered 504, with no change in boundaries. Rotary growth dictated further changes in the boundaries in 1973 and again in 1987. In 1992, the computer age dictated the change to the four digit number of 5040.

A  Brief  History  of  the District

From the beginning, and for many years, the area that is now District 5040 was part of an international district. In the late 1980s, district boundaries were changed, putting it completely within the province of British Columbia. In 1950, prior to this change, this international aspect of the District began to take on a more concrete form, when the concept of an International House, on the campus of the University of British Columbia, was put forth. A committee was set up to investigate the possibility.

Initially, a corner of a room in one of the university buildings was used as a sort of social centre for Canadian and foreign students. In the spring of 1951, the Rotary Club of  Marpole (now Vancouver South) became interested, and after some months of negotiations, an old army hut (twenty-six by fifty-two feet) was made available. Members of the Rotary Club turned out en masse and spent more than four hundred hours, working evenings to refurbish the building. Furniture was supplied by the Zonta Club, an international business woman�s organization. The Rotary Club budget for the project was four thousand dollars. A large poster was affixed to the outside of the building. reading:


Activities consisted of Sunday dinners with Swedish, Spanish, Burmese, Chinese, French, and East and West Indian dishes. Various speakers discussed aspects of their life, with one hundred and twenty students or more attending daily sessions.

It soon became apparent that a larger and more permanent House was needed. In 1953,

following consultations with the Marpole Club, the University of British Columbia, and the Rotary Club of Vancouver, the latter club agreed to raise at least $150,000. Four years later, on the 20 November 1957, Reg Rose presented a cheque for $150,000 on behalf of the Vancouver Club, and construction began. Some fifteen months later, the new House was opened by former First Lady Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt. This became the first permanent International House to be established in this zone, with the purpose of promoting ��.understanding and goodwill among the students of different nationalities and races attending the University of British Columbia, and thereby fostering more friendly international relationships and world peace.�

In 1973, District 503 was formed from parts of District 504 and District 502, which reduced not only the geographic size of the District 504 but also the number of clubs. As a result, the District became more manageable. Eighteen new clubs were added over the next decade, the record year being 1980-81, under DG Chuck Wong, when six clubs were added. This decade also saw a visit from RI President Bob Manchester. World Community Service (WCS) projects were initiated. In co-operation with District 386 in the Philippines, the District, assisted by a grant from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), spent one hundred thousand dollars to provide pure water and decent sanitation in several urban and rural areas in the Philippines. DG Jack Hotell emphasized �world understanding and peace through Rotary� by finalizing two more WCS programs in the Philippines. Meanwhile, two Group Study Exchange (GSE) teams were exchanged with England and Japan.

Once again with sixty-three clubs, the District had grown too large for effective administration, so it was split into two, leaving it with thirty-one clubs. Negotiated by DG Mel Sprowat in 1985, the division became effective on 1 July 1987 under DG Dick Metcalfe. Again, the smaller, more manageable district led to new clubs being chartered, nineteen in all.

The PolioPlus project was inaugurated by RI, and DG Jack Campbell (87-88) headed up a very successful fundraising project. The following year was a milestone year as it saw the admission of women into Rotary. DG Al Cheshire and his spouse acted as a team to encourage the participation of women in Rotary. District 504 had the honour of hosting the RI board of directors for ten days in 1990. In the following year, DG Corey Holob initiated the Zone Representative concept, and held the first annual Foundation dinner. The next year, under DG Art Gambrel, the Foundation dinners were increased to four, to cover all of the clubs of this vast district. DG Art held his District (now numbered 5040) Conference out-of-district at Penticton, in conjunction with District 5050.

In 1992-93, with Charles Loh as district governor, the following RI awards were presented to members of the District. The Significant Achievement award was won by the Rotary Club of Vancouver South for the unique project Heritage Forest;  Service Above Self awards were presented to Rotarians Anup Jubbal and Michael Cruise; eleven clubs received Presidential Citation awards;  Special Recognition was made of Charles and Carol Loh for their contributions to The Rotary Foundation. The Foundation fundraising campaign, including the four regional dinners, raised U.S.$412,324.16, a District record. DG Charles held a Cruise District Conference, the first for the district, and the last allowed by RI. Two scholarship funds were established: one by the Prince George and the Prince George-Nechako Clubs for the new University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) with a matching provincial grant; the other scholarship was donated by Charles and Carol Loh for the exchange of medical students between China and British Columbia, under Rotary�s Ambassadorial Scholarship Program.

This decade ended with DG Irwin Stewart at the helm. He increased the number of Foundation Dinners to five. In addition to organizing a WCS project in Uganda-Operation Hearing, Dr. Stewart and his wife, Lois, travelled  twice to Kenya as Rotary volunteers to participate in another Operation Hearing, under the sponsorship of the Rotary 3-H Program. They also carried out extensive volunteer medical work in the Canadian north, Thailand, and in the South Pacific. A second GSE team was exchanged with District 1060 in England. Another out-of-district conference was held at Victoria, again with District 5050.

Rotarian Dave Ker, acted as special representative of the District Governor of District 5010 to charter the Rotary Clubs of Novosibirsk and Barnaul in eastern Russia The involvement in Russia of Dave and his wife Lis, inspired Lis, and other spouses of members of the Vancouver South Rotary Club to set up the Spouses Program for Siberia.  DG Dave and Lis established a Scholarship Endowment Fund with TRF to provide scholarships for students from Siberia to attend an introductory business program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology at Burnaby, B.C.

The District had the honour of twice hosting RI President Luis Giay and his wife, Celia, during the summer of 1996.

The Rotary World Help Network, which facilitates the distribution of medical and educational materials around the world, was formed in 1997, through the hard work of Bill Richwa and a number of Vancouver Rotarians. Assistant district governors were first appointed in 1998 by DG Neil King.  A district liability insurance policy covering twenty-five clubs was instituted, and a District web site was started.

The Blue Denim Seminar (a training session for DGNs, DGEs and DGs from the ten districts that form the Pacific Northwest President�s Elect Training Seminar [PETS]) was brought to Vancouver by DG Chris Offer in 1999. He also brought the Zone 22 Institute to Vancouver in 2000. Four new clubs were chartered. The District received the award for the district in Zone 22 with the highest percentage increase of giving to The Rotary Foundation. DG Chris is remembered for his thirty-six thousand dollar haircut that contributed to the high level of giving to TRF.

Dr. Shafique Pirani of the Rotary Club of Burnaby started the Uganda Clubfoot Project, described below, with a Rotary Foundation matching grant. An all-medical GSE Team, led by PDG Dr. Irwin Stewart, and funded by the Charles and Carol Loh Rotary Foundation Endowment Fund, was sent to China.

When charity goes global, Rotary International is the first name that comes to our minds. This is how this club has changed the mindset of the people all over the world. People and their thoughts evolve to make the world what it is today.

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