95th Celebration of Rotary in Kenora

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95th Celebration of Rotary in Kenora

The date February 23 2015. The location 901 Westside Restaurant in Keewatin. The occasion, the annual Paul Harris Dinner, the 110 anniversary of Rotary in the world and the 95th Anniversary of Rotary in Kenora.

Everyone was welcome by our charming and affable President and Emcee for the night.

The meeting began with the "Rotary Voices" a group of Rotarians who at every weekly meeting sing O Canada acappella. Tonight was no exception. O Canada was followed by "Smiles" -some call it "he Rotary Anthem" and then the Introduction of visiting Rotarians/Guests. In total over 40 individuals were present. A Grace was delivered by Fred Wright.

Before Dinner was completed John Dahl boasted that while he had some concerns before the meeting began his wife told him -just be yourself and every thing will be perfect. And so he proceeds to fulfil his wife's promise by reciting the Adam and Eve story -a la style John Dahl:

Adam is approached by God in the Garden of Eden and is told that God has a special gift for him. This thing called Eve is perfect in every way. She will sooth his tired brow each night, she will cook his meals and wash the dishes, once they discover clothes she will keep them clean and mended, she will attend to his every needs and never be tired or have headaches. She will be perect in every way. Adam questions. "How much will that cost me." For such a precious item, an arm and a leg" replies God. "What can I get for a rib" and thus began a night of celebration and fellowship.

Bruce Ormiston, one of the longest serving Kenora Rotarians was called upon to give a brief histor of the Kenora Rotary Club.

He recounted the history of how the club was formed. Rotary began in Chicaccgo in 1905. In 1910 Duluth sponsored the Rotary Club of Winnipeg as Club #35 to Make Rotary International. Mr Joseph A Fife, of the Fort William / Port Arthur Club, and cousin to Ashton Thomas Fife of Kenora delivered a report recommending the establishing a Rotary Club in Kenora and in 1920 our club was established with 9 members (Note: by Charter night March 20 1920 this number had climbed to 15)...

He noted that over the years the Club had raised a lot of money for various projects noting that Snow Aramas chaired by Ken Chambers would earn $35,000 ifor equipment and support by Easter Seals and when so much money was raised that could be spent on Children the balance was donated for equipment for the local hospital. Another project recalled fondly was a Car daw that would be placed on the Ice opposite todays round about and the winner would be chosen by the best projected date of it falling through the ice.

He spoke of fellowship enjoyed by local members and others from the district at District Conference in Manitoba and Sakatchewan and Goodwill Meetings in Winnipeg.

He spoke of our Clubs record in World Service including numerous water wells in India, water systems in St Vincent, suppport for Caterack operations through Operation Eye Sight in India and our current support for Shelter Box and building schools in Guadamela through the Ripple Effect Project where substantial leadership was provided bu local Club members.

His conclusion, For 35 years our Club members have spent countless hours oin the spirit of "Service Above Self". The members have been better for having been part of Rotary . Rotary and our club have made Kenora a better place to live.

Next followed the induction of new member Susan Lemay as encouraged by District Governor Pat Chernesky. Various 100 %Attendance pins were presented by Fred Wright for Perfect attendance for between one to 14 years. A "Sponsor pin was prsented to Kelly Williams by Present John Dahl.

District Governor Pat Chernesky gave an entusiastic introduction of – Rotary Foundation followed by Paul Harris Recognitions:

#1 Lindsay Wenaas Paul Harris Fellow (PHF) (first one given to a member in her first year as a Rotarian)

#2 Cindy Behrsin PHF+2

#3Gord LeMaistre PHF plus 4

#4 John Dahl PHF plus 5

#5 Bruce Krawicki  PHF plus 6

Honourary Paul Harris Fellows were given to Colin Wasacase and Len Kropioski in recognition for their service in the Community

Colin Wasacase,  is a Cree elder originally from Broadview, Sask moved to Kenora in the late 1950s.  In 2012 Colin received the Ontario Senior Achievement Award, one of 20 seniors of distinction chosen by the Lieutenant Governor at that time. As a child Colin attended a Presbyterian residential school in Birtle, Man. Colin wanted to teach. He wanted to work in the residential school system and sought opportunities to make changes.

Colin has become a well-known member in the Kenora community, where he served, and is serving,  as a city councillor and, is the past chair of the police services board. He has served on the boards of Lake of the Woods Hospital, Northwestern Health Unit and the former Kenora Board of Education. The members of the Kenora Rotary Club saluted Colin for his involvement in the community, his concern for others,  his dedication to the Fellowship Centre, and to the overall welfare of this community all in a very sensitive and gentle way, with a pleasant, attitude as well as a wonderful sense of humor. 

Len Kropioski or "Kroppy" as he is better known in Kenora was recognized by Mayor Dave Canfield in 2011 when he presented the Ontario Senior of the Year Award, The Minisstry of Citizenship and Culture award, to Len at the age of 93, a long-time coach and supporter of amateur sports in Kenora. The Kenora Rotary Club recognized Kroppy at the age of 97, Kroppy still going strong.

Kroppy was invited to sing O Canada with the Rotary Voices as many Rotarians have seen him standing at attention, saluting, and singing O Canada at Winnipeg Jets home game on the jumbo screen. A veteran of World War II, Kroppy indicates, “Being a Canadian I thinks its only appropriate for me to sing the national anthem of Canada. I sure love my country.”


Kroppy, born in July in 1918, served in the Canadian Army in 1942 and 1943, serving in the Aleutians Islands before settling in Kenora. He worked as a lineman, for the town, climbing poles in all sorts of weather but he enjoyed his work. Kroppy finally retired in 1983 after working for 33 years. Kroppy has always been a big supporter of local teams, at one time sponsoring as many as six different sports teams. Currently he was sponsoring Kroppy's Hawks, a girls slow pitch team and also a men's hockey team. He has also been known to help under-privileged child to get the equipment necessary to play.

The Rotary Moment was delived by the husband of the District Governor, Fred Olfert followed by a District Conference invite by DG Pat Chernesky to Nipawin Saskatchewan in June 20.

The night was long but all members left feeling proud and inspired by the Club's 95 years of Service.