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 in 1929/1930 when 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 connected with twenty local industry leaders 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 on Thursday, March 27, 1930, in the auditorium of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company with 200 people present, including representatives from eleven other Rotary Clubs. Also attending 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 Etobicoke Rotary Club was formed in 1930 at the beginning of the Depression. This was a time of massive unemployment and one of the first club projects was to help unemployed people by providing more than 2,000 parcels of food and milk. The main thoughts and efforts were directed towards helping the children in need.
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" with picnics frequently provided for underprivileged children -- one of the picnics in Long Branch entertained 1,500 children. The club provided disabled children with boots, braces, wheelchairs, and other equipment with funds raised by means of the annual “Theatre Nights and Draws”.  Rotary Peace Park is located near Eleventh Street and Lake Shore Drive and today features a lit ball diamond, two lit tennis courts, a splash pad, a children’s playground and an outdoor swimming pool.
In 1934 we moved our luncheon meetings to The Old Mill and we continue to use this venue today. These luncheons were not only weekly meetings of business executives enjoying each other’s company, but also opportunities to give practical, much-needed service to others.
After a brief respite from the depression, World War II started and hardship took other forms. Several club members served with the Armed Forces, while many others served in other essential ways. The club membership grew to 35. Our club was actively interested in the Boy Scout movement with Rotary providing scout patrol competition trophies and this was kept up for many years. During the war, the club became active in the work of "The Greater Toronto War Services Council". One initiative was donating money towards the Canadian "Milk for Britain" fund.
To encourage high academic performance, the club established scholarships for students at the Mimico High School and over the years, students from other schools were added including those from 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 abate, and a new era of expansion and development emerged, unparalleled in the history of Canada. However, Rotary was needed more than ever before. 
Rotary Youth Centre 

Our members decided to purchase a surplus army hut and erected it in Mimico's Coronation Park. It was converted into an indoor recreation facility for the newly formed "Rotary Youth Centre". However, it was quickly realized that this was just the beginning and that there was a growing need for more facilities. Funds were raised with major events such as Bingo at Maple Leaf Gardens and by borrowing capital from club members.
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 became 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.
More major fundraising events were held and in 1953 all club members who had advanced capital were repaid. Steady improvements were made to the Rotary Youth Centre and it was estimated that by that time, the Rotary Club had contributed approximately $50,000 towards 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 -- to provide much-needed medical services. 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 23, 1955, with the Rotary Club of Mimico and New Toronto celebrating its 25th anniversary on March 27th. These two special occasions were 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 1957–58, our Past President Brett Brettell was District Governor and our Club hosted the District Conference in the King Edward Hotel with 1,120 Rotarians registered. 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 southwest area of Metropolitan Toronto. The club purchased a 100-acre dilapidated farm in the Alliston area for $10,000 which the Girl Guide Association, with assistance from our club, transformed 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 1960-61, 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 10, 1961, an impressive dedication ceremony was held with club members and scores of Brownies, Guides and Rangers attending the Flag Raising ceremony.
The club continued to support many existing and new projects and reached a membership of 85, with 95% of the members attending club meetings.
Bill Purtle Day 
As a token of the high esteem with which Bill Purtle was regarded, our Club celebrated "Bill Purtle Day" on April 19, 1961, during a luncheon meeting. 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 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 1960's, the west 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 1, 1967, the club name was officially changed.

Canadian American Friendship Exchange 

During these years, a Canadian American friendship was enjoyed between the Rotary Club in Patchogue, 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, the 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 is remembered for many years after.

Montserrat Receives Help

Past President Bill Carroll moved to the Caribbean Island of Montserrat and came to our club asking for help with an island community. This started a major international project which we supported for a number of years.

Tribute to Bill Purtle

On April 17, 1970, a special dinner/dance was held at the Skyline Hotel with over 200 people witnessing a special tribute to Charter President Bill Purtle. Shortly after, Bill donated $10,000 to our club, which became the seed money for our Charter President Trust Fund. Sadly, a few months later in July, Bill Purtle passed away at the age of 84.

The 50's Anniversary Celebration

The Honourable William G. Davis, former Premier of Ontario, was the guest speaker at a major dinner and dance gala to help celebrate the club’s 50th anniversary.