Clare Thompson, the Club’s only Past District Governor, shared interesting and humourous insights on the history of Dryden Rotary over the past 40 years ago.
Clare began by saying, “We met in this same building up in the Sunset room. At that time no women were allowed to join Rotary. The tone of the meetings sometimes could get a bit rowdy. We met at six fifteen in the evening,  at least that is the time the president rang the bell. The bar opened at four pm, a few of the members arrived early enough to take advantage of this.”

In another story, Clare said, “We were running the music awards back then, and I remember one night when Dan whispered to me don’t forget to ask Duke about the music awards. Duke McDonald was chairman of Music awards and was a man of very few words. So I asked ‘Duke how are the awards coming along have you notified the parents of the winners, have you arranged for a piano, how about the music teachers, and have you let the hotel know’. Duke got to his feet with a hand full of papers he stood there shuffling them for a minute or so and then said ‘Yep!’ and sat down. That was a full report from Duke.”
The issue of attendance was also addressed by Clare: “Included in the induction you were told that you must attempt to attend each and every meeting, or to make up at another club within one week before or after the date of our meeting. That meant going to Kenora or Sioux Lookout on their meeting days, or if you were away in Winnipeg, Fort William or anywhere else in the world you could makeup. If you could not meet these attendance rules and missed three meetings in a row without a good reason - like being hospitalized – your membership was terminated.”
On the issue of dress and meetings, Clare said, “We didn’t really have a dress code, but everyone wore a jacket and tie to all the evening meetings, and the noon meetings were come as you are. I know I attended many a meeting in my painter’s whites. Personally, I liked the evening meetings - they were more relaxed - no one was in a big hurry to get back to work. There was more time for fellowship. If we had a particularly interesting program that dragged on it didn’t matter, however, most of our meetings were over by eight or eight-thirty.”
In another story on fund-raising Clare said, “The Chuck Wagon made a few bucks at the Fall Fair the July First weekend and any other time there was a large gathering. It is a surprise to me how we didn’t poison someone. Some of the burgers that were put out left a lot to be desired. When things were slow the burgers came out very well done a little on the black side even a little crisp. When it was busy some of them went out very rare. It was finally figured out we should sell the chuck wagon thinking we could make more money investing because at the time interest rates were high.”
On the topic of Fund raising Clare shared this story. “We tried many things to make money even to the point of selling tickets on a goat. This we had a lot of fun with and it was a great fundraiser. We bought the goat from a lady who raised them. The winner really didn’t want it so asked us to take it back. We returned the goat to the owner who was happy to get it back and insisted she returned our money. We did pay a little rent.”
He went on, “You all know it was this club that spearheaded the building of the hospital where it is today. Actually, most of our fundraising went into that project. Our biggest fundraiser was Snowarama which we ran for many years.”
“We didn’t have groomed trails like they have today. The day before it was to be run someone broke a trail and marked it with flags from the Ukrainian Hall to Hudson and back. Our biggest problem was not the checking out of the riders but having them report back. When they got to Hudson they hit the check-point and then some of them then hit the Hudson Hilton. A few never got out of there until very late. One year we had lost a rider and when he never showed up we waited and waited. Finally, we called his home - his wife was a little mad – he had come home in a taxi and was asleep on the chesterfield. However, it was a great fundraiser and we had a lot of faithful riders that came back year after year.”
Clare final story was on the admittance of woman into the club. He told us: “It wasn’t until 1989 that woman were allowed to join Rotary. Rotary International had just made the statement that clubs may allow women into their clubs as long as the laws of their country allowed it. We had many discussions about allowing this to happen. I was very much in favor as I thought it would increase our membership. As you can see, this didn’t happen. Our numbers at that time were almost identical to what they are today. There were several members against allowing women members into the club, but when the vote was taken it was in favor of opening our membership to women. One member in particular, was adamant he jumped up and said that the day a woman joined our club he would quit. At the next meeting, I nominated his wife for membership. On the night of her induction, I had a cake made with his name on it saying he would quit if a woman joined. And we made him eat his words”