Club Founding

The Rotary motto "Service above Self" was truly exemplified by our own Charter President A.W. "Bill" Purtle, who was instrumental in the founding of the Rotary Club of Mimico and New Toronto, which was later renamed "The Rotary Club of Etobicoke".

It started when in 1929/1930 Chas W. Buchanan, Governor of District 27, got together with "The Rotary Club of Toronto" and appointed Bill Purtle as a special representative of the district to survey the Lakeshore area. Bill gathered around him twenty industrial leaders of the area and founded the third Rotary Club in the immediate vicinity of Toronto. With the formation of the Rotary Club of Mimico and New Toronto, Bill relinquished his membership in the Toronto Rotary Club in order to add leadership and experience as Charter President to the newly formed club.
 
The Charter night was held Thursday, March 27th, 1930, in the Auditorium of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. On this occasion some 200 people were present including representatives from eleven Rotary Clubs. Also in attendance were D.M. Wright, Canadian Representative on the Board of Rotary International; C.W. Buchanan, District Governor and W.J. Cairns President of the Rotary Club of Toronto.

The Early Years

 

The Club was formed in 1930, the beginning of the well remembered "depression years". In the early 30's there was massive unemployment. One of the first club projects was to help these people and provide more than 2000 parcels of food and milk. The main thought and efforts were directed towards helping the children. The Town of New Toronto made parkland available, which our Rotary Club equipped with playground equipment. As an expression of appreciation the property was named "Rotary Park". Picnics were frequently provided for the underprivileged children. At one of these picnics in Long Branch, 1500 children were entertained. Disabled children were provided boots, braces, wheelchairs and other equipment by the club. Funds were raised by means of annual Theatre Nights and Draws.

 

In 1934 our meeting place for the regular luncheon was changed to the Old Mill and this venue has continued up to the present. However, we did know right from the start, that these luncheons were not only once a week meetings of business executives enjoying each others company but opportunities to give practical, much needed service to others.

 

After a brief respite from the depression, World War II started. Hardship took other forms. The people of the world who cherished liberty were fighting a desperate war of survival. Several Club members were serving with the Armed Forces, whilst many served in other essential ways. The membership grew to a strength of 35. Our club was actively interested in the Boy Scout movement. Rotary provided scout patrol competition trophies and kept this up for many years. At that time the club became active in the work of "The Greater Toronto War Services Council". The Club also donated money towards the Canadian "Milk for Britain" fund. The Club, as an encouragement to high academic performance, establish scholarships for students at the Mimico High School. These scholarships were continued and others were added including the New Toronto Secondary School, Etobicoke Collegiate, Royal York Collegiate and Alderwood Collegiate.

After The War

Problems and restrictions of the war years were beginning to clear. A new era of expansion and development emerged, unparalleled in history of Canada. Rotary was needed more than ever before. 
 
Rotary Youth Centre 
 
Our members conceived purchasing a surplus army hut and erecting it in Mimico's Coronation Park. It was converted to an indoor recreation facility for the newly formed "Rotary Youth Centre". However, the further this project progressed the more it was realized that it was just a beginning and the facilities needed were growing considerably. The funds needed were raised with major fundraising events such as Bingo at Maple Leaf Gardens. The Club also raised money by borrowing capital from its members at an interest rate of 3%.
 
Finally after three years of trials and tribulations the Rotary Youth Centre was formally opened in November 1948. An arrangement between the Town of Mimico and the Rotary Club outlining the usage and policy of the Centre was reviewed annually. Although the direction of activity was to become the responsibility of the Town of Mimico, the Rotary Club retained overall control and administration. One of the stipulations was that one night per week be allocated to the Club for its use.
 
Further major fundraising events were held and in 1953 all Club members who advanced capital were repaid. Steady improvements were made to the Rotary Youth Centre. It was estimated that by then the Rotary Club contributed approximately $50,000 to the Centre. The Youth Centre became the home of Boy Scouts and Rovers in the area and the Rotary Club became a continued sponsor of the Lakeshore Scout movement.
 
In 1954 the Rotary Club achieved its objective of establishing the Youth Centre and decided to transfer ownership to the Town of Mimico. It was time to start another major project.
Queensway Hospital 
 
The Queensway Hospital was to provide much needed medical service. The building fund objective was $2,000,000 and our Club pledged $8,000 towards the building and equipment. Rotary International celebrated its 50th anniversary on February 23rd, 1955, as the Rotary Club of Mimico and New Toronto celebrated its 25th anniversary on March 27th. This special occasions was marked by our sponsorship of the Islington Club.
 
It was also the year when our club sponsored boys from England, Scotland and Ireland to take part in the World Jamboree of Scouts held in Niagara Falls. 1956 marked the year of our first Golf Day at the Lake View Golf Club. Our charter President Bill Purtle provided the day and evening fellowship event. Bill was by now an honorary member but still an active contributor to Rotary. The Rotary Golf Day from then on became an annual event.
 
During the Rotary year of 1957 - 1958 our Past President Brett Brettell was District Governor and our Club hosted the District Conference in the King Edward Hotel. We registered 1,120 Rotarians. The guest of honour was the R.I. President's special representative Webb Follin from Shelbyville, Tennessee.
 
Piper Hill Camp 
 
In 1959 our club adopted another major project to develop a camp for the Girl Guide Movement in the South West area of the Metropolitan Toronto. The Club purchased a 100 acre farm in the Alliston area for $10,000. Immediately the Girl Guide Association with assistance from our Club transformed a dilapidated farm into a camp of life and activity. Three of our members became the trustees to hold title to the property for the next five years and Piper Hill Camp was born. 
 
During the Rotary year of 1960 - 1961 major improvements were made to the Piper Hill Camp. The barn was refurbished and a new building at a cost of $15,000 was constructed with funds raised by the Girl Guide Association. On June 10th, 1961 an impressive dedication ceremony was held. Members of our Club and scores of Brownies, Guides and Rangers attended the Flag Raising ceremony.
 
The Club continued to support many existing and new projects and reached a membership of 85 with 95% attendance.
 
Bill Purtle Day 
 
As a token of the high esteem with which Bill Purtle was regarded, our Club celebrated on April 19th, 1961 during a regular luncheon meeting "Bill Purtle Day". Past President Hall McClelland chaired the proceedings with many of Bill's old friends from the Toronto Rotary Club present. Past District Governor Brett Brettell presented a plaque to Bill Purtle with the inscription: "Presented to Charter President A. W. "Bill" Purtle as a token of esteem by the Rotary Club of Mimico and Toronto."

The New Club

During the early 60's west of Toronto Municipalities of Mimico, New Toronto, Long Branch and Etobicoke were incorporated into the municipality of Etobicoke. The Rotary Club of Mimico and New Toronto registered a new name "The Rotary Club of Etobicoke" with Rotary International and on July 1st 1967 officially changed the name . A new club ensign was designed.

 

Canadian American Friendship Exchange 

During these years a Canadian - American Friendship was enjoyed between Patchogue in Long Island and our club. Two major events followed. Long Island was visited by most of our members and their wives listening to the Canadian Consul General, Honourable R.G.C. Smith speak to the Rotary Club of Patchogue . Shortly after the President of The Rotary Club of Patchogue visited our club with fifteen Rotarian couples in tow. This experience was an outstanding venture in international friendship and remembered for many years after.

 

Montserrat Receives Help 

Past President Bill Carroll moved to the Caribbean Island of Montserrat and came to our club for help with an island community. This was the start of a major international project, which lasted for a number of years.

 

Tribute to Bill Purtle

On April 17th, 1970 a special dinner followed by a dance was held at the Sky Line Hotel. Over 200 people witnessed a special tribute to Charter President Bill Purtle. Shortly after Bill Purtle donated $10,000 to our club, it was the seed money for our Charter President Trust Fund. A few months later in July, Bill Purtle passed away at the age of 84.

 

Bill Purtle Memorial Golf Day 

In memory of Bill Purtle, the club changed the name of our Annual Golf Day to the "Bill Purtle Memorial Golf Day". This event is still observed today as an annual outing of our Rotarian golfers their spouse's and guests.

 

Rotary TV Auction 

In the fall of 1979 our Rotary club the first TV Auction, which yielded $16,000 that year . This was multiplied many times in the following years and the funds supported many different projects.

 

The 50's Anniversary Celebration

The Honourable William Davis, Premier of Ontario, was our guest speaker at a major gala event with dinner and dance. 25 years later our club held another festive anniversary.