Rotary on the Radio

In 1924 Belleville Rotary was asked to participate in the District Assembly being held in Buffalo, New York and was put in charge of the Wednesday noon luncheon program.  A major feature of that year’s conference was the broadcasting of the proceedings on the local radio station. The Belleville Intelligencer reported “the weather is not the best for successful results and the Burrrrr- — -ssss- - - -whistle, commonly known as “static” clearly showed that almost every radio outfit in Belleville (and there were a number of them!) was attempting to tune in on the Buffalo show…” Those who tuned in to the show heard Belleville’s Col. W. N. Ponton, K.C. make “his debut as a radio speaker… although he is known Dominion wide as an orator.  His subject was ‘International Problems’.  Mr. Knight MacGregor, formerly of Belleville, and an honorary member of the Belleville Rotary Club sang, and Rotarian Sandy Burrows officiated as song leader in the community singing of the Belleville club members’ ensemble.”  (Knight MacGregor had moved to New York City where he lived and worked as a singer.) The Belleville Rotary Club came away from the conference not only with a greatly enhanced reputation, but also with a beautiful large bell, as first prize for attendance, which it displayed for many years at its weekly meetings.


Until the early 1980’s the wives of Belleville Rotarians met only at Rotary activities such as Skate-a-thon, Music Festival, the occasional Rotary meeting or the annual President’s Ball or Ladies’ Night.  Most wives found it difficult to remember each other’s names or faces from year to year.  A few decided to test the concept of a monthly luncheon for Rotary wives, the purpose of which would be for them to get to know each other.  Accordingly, in the spring of 1982, an invitation was extended to all wives to meet at the Belleville Club to discuss the concept over lunch.  The turnout was very encouraging, and a steering committee was established and right at the outset two major philosophies were identified:
a)            The new group would be primarily social in its purpose.  It was felt that all the wives were already involved in their husband’s Rotary activities and there was no desire to set up a parallel service club.
b)            There would be a minimum of organization to the club.  It was decided not to bother with a formal constitution and to keep business aspects to a minimum at the monthly luncheons.  Thus, the group rejected the more formally organized, constitutionally run model of the international “Inner Wheel” women’s organization in favour of being known as the Belleville RotaryAnnes.  At the time, it was one of the very few such Rotary women’s groups in Canada.
The two basic philosophies remained - except for one major annual community contribution.  The Belleville RotaryAnnes annually organized the distribution and sale of daffodils for the local branch of the Canadian Cancer Society. The first regular monthly luncheon meeting featured a fashion show by Ashley’s at the Bay of Quinte Country Club on September 19, 1982.  Monthly luncheons continued to take place on the third Monday, usually at the Belleville Club.  Programs ranged from tours of local busi-nesses and institutions to speakers on a variety of topics and even an annual Fashion Show.  The final meeting is usually a potluck picnic at the home of the President.  Every effort was made to contact the wives of new Rotarians to encourage them to join.  With the introduction of women to Rotary in Belleville in 1994, the RotaryAnnes ceased meeting.                Taking on the role as President of RotaryAnnes during its existence included Anne Acton, Bunny McLean, Orlene Lott, Janet Baker, Marilyn Trudeau, Mary-Lynne Morgan, Doris Madge, Gaila Begbie, Wanda Chisholm and Samantha MacKay.