Chesterville Rotarians return to McCloskey roots on eve of 80th anniversary

Well fed after a sumptuous meal catered by Dan Riitano at McCloskey's, members of the Chesterville Rotary Club pose at the 22 Victoria Street venue, where the Club was known to meet in its earlier days.

Banquet tickets available at Chesterville Scotiabank

CHESTERVILLE — The Rotary Club of Chesterville marks its 80th anniversary with a banquet on Sat., May 12, at the local Legion, and tickets are available exclusively at the Chesterville Scotiabank branch.

But in advance of that celebratory milestone, Club members returned to their roots by holding their last regular meeting at the venue that once  served as one of its early gathering places — the McCloskey Hotel.

The first organizational meeting took place in 1938, 80 years ago this month — at the Community Hall just across the road from McCloskey’s. Twenty-two “business and professional” Chesterville-area men — it was a male bastion at the time — welcomed 100 Rotarians from around the region, as recounted by a newspaper of that era. Among the visitors were representatives from the Ottawa club, sponsor of the new Chesterville & District Rotary Club.

The local Rotarians received their actual Charter a little later that year, in June, when they also welcomed counterparts from Watertown, New York. Part of the same Rotary district, the Americans gifted the Club a silk Stars and Stripes flag and staff topped by a golden eagle. To this day, it remains still in use as part of a combined ceremonial display, which was brought along for the meeting in the big east room at McCloskey’s. Also dating back to the founding are the Club’s chimes — rung like a xylophone at the beginning and end of every meeting. President Martin Derks dutifully struck the notes at the 22 Victoria Street establishment.

In keeping with the vintage feel of the evening, most Club members dressed formally. Female members added an extra dash of historical flair by aiming for 1930s style.

The Club was impressed with the sumptuous meal cooked up by McCloskey’s manager Dan Riitano, who told the Rotarians that he aimed to honour and incorporate the past of the historic hotel.

For the past few decades, the local Rotarians have usually held their meetings at the Nelson LaPrade Centre, a building the Club was instrumental in creating.

See the photos of Rotary’s April 9 meeting at McCloskey’s below.



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