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Rotary Club Fort Erie: Providing Five Avenues of Service

Christine Whelan FEO, May 9, 2024, VOL. 5 ISSUE 18

The Fort Erie Rotary Club have organized, “Dog Day Afternoon” on Saturday, May 25 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at the Stevensville Conservation Area, 2555 Ott Road in Stevensville, providing an opportunity for several dog owners to come out with their dogs that have special skills and service and provide demonstrations.

This event is an example of one of five avenues of service each Rotary Club provides for its community and internationally.

Lorne White, who’s been a Rotarian for over 50 years, a past President and most recently past Secretary (the Knowledge Keeper), shared with me some of the history of the Rotary Club.

He recited the story. “The Rotary was started in 1905 by a lonely, young lawyer in the Chicago area named Paul Harris. He called together his friends for supper. They had a good time, so they decided to do it again maybe a week or so later. This time, the rotated who hosted. That’s how the name Rotary came about. They rotated the meeting locations.

“They then decided they wanted to come up with a way to help their community. They chose to make public washrooms.”

He continued, “Hamilton Rotary Club, established in 1913, is one of the first clubs to be chartered in Canada. Welland was founded in 1922.”

Others followed fairly quickly, according to the storyteller.

Harris and his friends were all professionals. “So, the club officially became a club for business and professional people.”

He continued, “At the end of WWII, there was a huge movement in the world, trying to figure out how to keep war from happening again. Rotarians around the world were very instrumental in starting the United Nations.” To learn more, go to rotary.org and search United Nations.

Districts and Areas

There are districts of clubs that work together. “We are part of a district of about 2,000 clubs, Rotary District 7090. Half are Canadian, half are American. And then, within the district, there are areas. Our area is Fort Erie, Lewiston/Queenston, Grand Island and Niagara Falls,” telling stories of how the clubs would host the others, rotating their meeting spots.

Rotary Fort Erie

The Rotary Club in Fort Erie was founded in 1953.

One of the charter members who was there at the beginning was Peter Waytena. Lorne shared, “Peter stayed in the Rotary until he died, which was about a week before he was 102 years old.”

To learn more, go to rotaryforterie.org

Five Avenues of Service:

White explained that, for a Rotary Club to exist, they have to work towards five avenues of service. He broke it down for me, providing examples.

Club service – The members must focus on community awareness of Rotary, marketing, deciding where to meet, meals during meetings, and fellowship.

“To be a Rotary Club, it has to be active in four outbound avenues of service.”

Community – Rotary Fort Erie has supported a medical emergency system, sponsored an EMS vehicle for the town and supported the building of the Meridian Centre at GFESS. This avenue includes environmental issues.

International –  Clubs get together in Niagara with a cluster grant. Each club has the chance to present a project which they’d like to see run. Everybody votes and one is chosen.

Vocational – On the Fort Erie Rotary’s website, there are vocational videos, designed to help youth learn more about different careers when they are trying to figure out what they want to become. From police chief to working at the Smoking Budha restaurant to Canadian ambassador.

Youth – They give scholarships. They have the Rotary Youth Leadership Award which came from Queensland, Australia and Junior Rotary Leadership Award for high school kids.

Board of Directors

Lorne explained, “The president serves for one year at a time. A president-elect is getting ready and learning, the president doing the work, and the president from the past watching and helping through experience. The secretary and treasurer are long-term positions that don’t rotate. Then there are five directors for each avenue that work with committees.” He added, “Fundraising is separate.”


The members meet in Fort Erie from 9:30 to 11:00 am. “Usually the speaker speaks first and they can stay to listen to the business if they wish.”

They’ve been meeting at St. Andrews-Knox Presbyterian Church at 203 Highland Ave in Fort Erie, exchanging with a donation to the church.

Integrity is a priority of the Rotary Club. They have an effective compass for integrity called the four-way test.

With life’s circumstances, a member can ask themselves:

1. Is it the truth?

2. Is it fair to all concerned?

3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

4. Is it beneficial to all concerned?

“John Maurice, a member from Fort Erie, added a fifth, Will it be fun?” Lorne shared that this test is said at their meetings.

Lorne says that when looking for people to join, they are looking for people with integrity. “You can’t just join the Rotary. You are invited to join, sponsored to join.”

Rotary Mottos

1. Service Above Self

2. One Profits Most Who Serves Best

Check out the Fort Erie Rotary Club website for more information: RotaryFortErie.org

There are no upcoming events at this time.