Numbers down, but clubs still do good

Rotary, the world’s first volunteer service organization, began in Chicago in 1905. The Toronto-Leaside Club was formed in 1940.

In its heyday, there were close to 100 members from the local community who met for their weekly lunches in Lamb Hall at St. Cuthbert’s Church. Various women’s groups from the church catered a set menu each week. Now, at the weekly Monday lunch meetings at the Fox & Fiddle on Laird, there are about 20 participants and the menu isn’t as restrictive.

The motto for Rotarians is “service above self”. To be able to provide services, you need to raise money. The big Rotary fundraiser is the Corn Roast, held at Trace Manes Park every September.

Over the years, this club has raised and donated more than $1.5 million.

Most recently, there was a $50,000 donation towards the second ice pad for Leaside Memorial Community Gardens. A few years ago, there was furniture for the new Leaside Library. All along, there are smaller needs filled – hearing tests that run about $700 are provided when finances are a problem for a family, and uniforms for an indoor soccer league in Thorncliffe Park are just two examples.

A prominent international Rotary project is PolioPlus, matching funds with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help the fight for polio eradication.

To learn more about Toronto-Leaside Rotary, call President George Hurst at 416-421-6491, or write .

It was Toronto-Leaside Rotarians and Leaside Lions who did the major fundraising to build Leaside Memorial Community Gardens in 1952. I’ll leave the story of Leaside Lions for Alan Redway to tell in some future issue. You’ll need to read Alan’s explanation as to why the Leaside Lions still meet, but in west end Toronto.

There was a Leaside Kiwanis Club between 1949 and 1967. When the club disbanded, members joined East York Kiwanis, which still has some Leaside members. The children’s parkette over the brow of the Bessborough Dr. hill above Leaside Lawn Bowling was originally furnished by them.

All of these clubs were originally for men only, with a separate organization for women (mostly wives) who wished to be affiliated. Now both women and men are in the same clubs, eligible for the same jobs.

We’ve all driven past the corner of Millwood Rd. and Overlea Blvd. and seen the name York Masonic Lodge there. And yes, there really is a Masonic lodge in this building owned by the Masons.

The lodge was open to the public a few years ago during one of the Open Doors weekends. Maybe it will be again, and you can get a look at the special decorations.

As Bryan Pyper, a Mason says, “It’s not a secret society, but we do have our secrets.”  To become a Mason, you need to “ask one to be one”.

About Lorna Krawchuk 177 Articles
Lorna Krawchuk is publisher of Leaside Life. She is actively involved in St. Cuthbert’s Church. Her volunteer activities with the Leaside Property Owners’ Association led to her being elected a Councillor in the Borough of East York for 9 years before amalgamation in 1998. She also held a variety of volunteer leadership positions with the Girl Guides of Canada for over 30 years. Lorna has been a Leasider since 1968.