Back in Time: Tracing the roots of the Rotary Club in Flin Flon

Almost every community in Canada tends to have a Rotary Club. These clubs serve incredibly important roles in communities as they grow. From helping residents, to improving the community itself, the impact of the club can be incredible.

Back in 1934, there was growing interest in building a playground for children in the community. A request was made to the Flin Flon municipal council to turn Lot 37 into an outdoor rink and children’s slide. This would lead to the development of Jubilee Park, one of the original projects of the Flin Flon Rotary Club. That park still exists today as Rotary Park.

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The Flin Flon Rotary Club started on Valentine’s Day in 1935 when 19 citizens met at the St. James Anglican Church parish hall with the purpose of creating a Rotary Club. C.B. Hutchinson, a Rotary Club member from The Pas and owner of the Northland Drug Company, helped to advise the club on how to proceed.

The first ever meeting of the Flin Flon Rotary Club was held at the church hall, where Ernie Foster, the former mayor of Flin Flon, was chosen as president. James Bell was picked to be vice-president, while W.R. Henderson and W.B. Scarth were chosen as secretary and treasurer. Theodore Torgeson from Estevan, Saskatchewan was in attendance. He had served as a past international director and district governor for the organization.

In April 1935, a charter was presented to the club, with 55 Rotarians and guests in the Elks Hall. The club got down to work and began working with the Reg’lar Fellers boys club and the Flin Flon Girls Club. In June, the club began to look at ways to beautify Flin Flon.

By 1938, the club was receiving praise for having built the Jubilee Playground, purchasing a fire truck, and helping to organize the first of the Industrial Exhibitions in the community. In addition, they had provided the hospital with an iron lung and plans were also in place for the purchase of an ambulance.

Over the subsequent years, the club would help in the construction of Willow Park wading pools, playground equipment, and provide sponsorships for hockey teams, scholarships and educational funds. The Rotary Club also was a huge help in the construction of low-cost housing for Flin Flon’s seniors. At a cost of $137,225, Rotary Court was constructed, beginning on June 13, 1960. The facility would open on Feb. 11, 1961.

In 1967, as part of Canada’s Centennial, the Rotary Club helped with the construction of the new Flin Flon library. The club offered to plan, finish and furnish a basement room to be used as a meeting room. The Rotary Club Room was officially opened on Sept. 7, 1967. Jim Clark, the governor of Rotary District 555, presented the keys to the room to Deputy Mayor Henry Budlong.

Suggestions for columns or questions? E-mail Craig at Listen to his podcast by searching for “Canadian History Ehx” on your podcast platform. Find his show on YouTube by searching for “Canadian History Ehx”.

Information for this column comes from Flin Flon and Wikipedia.

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