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The ‘Rotary Club of Gravenhurst Bursary’

The Rotary Club of Gravenhurst was chartered in April of 1937. A group of ordinary men who set out to do extraordinary things. ‘Service Above Self’ is the Rotary Motto. One of the first Projects was to provide free milk to all the public school children in Town.

During World War II most of the club efforts were directed to fund raising for the relief. Large quantities of powdered mild were shipped to the children of the war torn England. Also, in the 1940’s the club initiated and sponsored an air cadet corps. About 40 youth benefitted and it was disbanded 5 years after the war in 1950.

Over the past 6 or 7 decades our club has been involved in many activities in Gravenhurst, in the area and internationally and a few will be highlighted here as being of most importance.

We have contributed greatly to physical structures in Town. The Opera House houses our Grand Piano and the Elevator was a Rotary donation. The Centennial Centre has ‘Rotary Main Street’ after pledging help to it’s’ construction. The Scout Hall, the New Library and Seniors Centre, Picnic Shelters and a play ground at Kinsmen Park were all projects spearheaded, funded or organized by the Rotarians.
Rotary’s involvement in Gull Lake Park has been so extensive that the Town Council renamed it Rotary Gull Lake Park. Involvement began in the 1950’s with waterfront programs including swimming lessons which continued into the 60’s and 70’s. For years the club sponsored the Speed boat races and regattas. The ‘Barge’ was rebuilt, picnic pavilion and playgrounds constructed with pathways interlinking it all.

Many organizations have benefitted from contributions of time and money including the Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, Minor Hockey, the Dog Park, Figure Skating, Minor Soccer, the Santa Claus parade, Salvation Army’s Food Bank and Supper Club. Rotarians have always ‘manned the kettles’ and rang the bells for the Salvation Army at Christmas.

Schools and children have been had strong support too. Children have been sponsored for ‘Adventure’ studies or trips in Citizenship, Tourism, Technology, Automotive and Leadership programmes throughout Ontario. For over 35 years the club supported an international student exchange sending a child to study abroad and providing a foreign student an opportunity here. In 2013 the club installed a ‘Rotary Career Centre’ in the high school and has been regular donors of awards and bursaries to graduating students for over 30 years.

Not content with only Town projects the Club has regularly supported the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital, The Muskoka Children’s Foundation, Interval House, Muskoka Children’s Aid Society and the Regional Cancer Centre.

International service came to the forefront in the 1980’s with the club participation in ‘Twinning’ missions in South India and the Dominican Republic. Many successful projects were completed as a result including projects in a school in Bequia, ‘Sleeping Children Around the World’ in Peru and India, home building in Guatemala and a recent undertaking of providing bicycles to poor children in Cambodia and mosquito netting to their families.

One of the largest undertaking in the world has been the eradication of Polio. Rotary International has been front and centre together with the World Health Organization and the Bill Gates Foundation have brought the Polio virus spread to a halt and hope to finish it off completely in the near future.

What is next for your Rotary Club of Gravenhurst? The club will continue to do what they do best. ‘Service Above Self’ – Locally, Nationally and Internationally.