The seeds for
the Montreal Club lie with
The real beginnings, however, take off when H LeRoy Shaw began to
communicate with W A Peace, the first President of The
Toronto Rotary Club. From such correspondence,
an initial, informal meeting was held on 18th September 1913 and then a
week later (25th September) at the Freeman's Hotel where Shaw was
elected first President and Herbert R Swenerton secretary. The first
general meeting took place on October 2nd at the Freeman's Hotel where
13 members were present. Entrance fees were set at $10 (Canadian) per
Shaw said "If we can club together - representative men from the various
kinds of professional and business life in the city - we will form a
group or club that will have undoubted influence for good, and make an
impressive contribution to the City's development." In November, Shaw
went on to appeal to every member "to do his best to make the club a
force (for good) in the community".
Members reflected "the spirit of responsibility to each other and to the
communities in which they resided and, perhaps, presented a higher
conception of what Rotary meant than was at that time general".
The club grew from a charter membership of 14 to 30 within a year and by
1920 there were 136 members rising to over 400 by the 1960s.
The club soon moved to Cooper's Restaurant on Notre Dame Street before
in September 1915, they settled in the Engineer's Club before returning
to Freeman's Hotel.
projects of the Club focused on Youth and Social Service. The first main
project saw the erection of a cottage in 1917 at the Boys Farm and
Training School, Shawbridge - a school for problem boys - cost $15,000.
The cottage was named after Rotarian John S Lewis who was killed in
action at the Battle of the Somme, 1916. Fro over 20 years, Montreal
Rotary Club overwrote the cost and Rotarians served on the Board of
Directors. The Club were also involved with the Boys Home of Montreal
inspired by Rotarian Owen Dawson who worked in the Juvenile Courts.
The Annual Boys Christmas Party was inaugurated in 1919 - 130 boys
attended initially rising to a peak of 346. The Club also helped to
establish Canada's first summer camp and helped raise money for Weredale
House, the new boys home for Montreal.
The first Boys Week of 1926 was conceived from an idea of the Rotary
Club of New York. Montreal Rotarians helped in this coordinated plan for
In Social Service, the club contributed to help needy families with aid
estimated at some $750 up to World War Two. During the war, Montreal
Rotarians volunteered to host children of British Rotarians.
Former RI President E Leslie Pidgeon joined the Club in 1925. The Club
also gave the movement RI President John Nelson in 1933.
Montreal helped extend Rotary, both in Quebec and Ontario, as well as in
New York State. Some of the Clubs Montreal helped form include: Smiths
Falls, Ontario; Quebec City; Malone, NY; Plattsburg NY. In its first 50
years Montreal chartered no less than 21 new clubs.