Club Information

Welcome to the Rotary Club of Belleville Ontario!

Service Above Self

We meet Mondays at 12:00 PM
Ramada by Wyndham Belleville Harbourview Conference Centre
11 Bay Bridge Road
Belleville, ON  K8P 3P6
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Hastings Prince Edward Children's Choir
Dec 16, 2019
Rotary Christmas Party
Dec 23, 2019
Rotary Children's Christmas Party
Maya Navrot
Jan 13, 2020
The Tree Planting Project
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President Doug advised due to the inclement weather and a number of school buses being cancelled, the Mayors of the Week portion of our weekly meeting was postponed and we would instead continue with the recognition of Past President and Rotarian Neil Britton and have a fellowship time with fellow Rotarians.
President Doug advised Neil had been a member of our club for many years when due to some family health issues, he had to retire from the club in 2018, and it was felt that Neil's retirement from the club and his contributions to the club needed to be better recognized and with that President Doug introduced Rotarian Garth Stephanson who presented a biographical update of Neil to the club.
Garth advised he was greatly appreciative of the honour to be able to present this testimonial of Neil's contributions to both the club and community and see him awarded a Paul Harris +3 recognition.  Neil was a member of the club since 1971 and was the 2nd longest serving member of the club at 47 years (only Bob Ord has longer tenure in the club) when he retired from the club in 2018.
Neil was born in Newcastle Ontario  and graduated with a civil engineering degree from the University of Toronto.  After graduation Neil joined Ontario Hydro and moved to Belleville in 1955.  Eight years later Neil transferred to the Belleville Public Utilities Commission and became general manager and secretary of the Utilities Commission in 1972, a position he held till his retirement in 1994 after 31 years of service with the Belleville Public Utilities Commission.
Neil's efforts with the PUC were recognized by the City of Belleville when in 2003 the Belleville Utilities building on the corner of Sidney and College Street West was renamed the Neil Britton Public Utilities Centre.  Neil joins other celebrated Bellevillians such as Past Rotarians Dr. Joe Demeza, Jack Parrott, Mayor George Zegouras and Charlotte Sills in having buildings named in their honour.  
Garth spoke to Neil's humble, quiet spoken, thoughtful, logical and practical management approach but that he is also an attentive listener to those around. 
Neil was active in many organizations locally and here is just a short list of the organizations where he took leadership roles of the organizations:
1) President of the Association of Professional Engineers of Quinte Chapter, realizing 2 citations from the organization in 1985 and 1989
2) President of the Electrical Utilities Safety Association of Ontario in 1976
3) President of the Canadian Cancer Society, Belleville 1982-1984
4) President of the Canadian Red Cross Society, Quinte
5) President of the Masonic Order Foundation, Belleville
6) President of the 22nd Club of Belleville
7) President of the Rotary Club of Belleville in 1975 when we moved from the Sun Valley Hotel to the new Four Seasons (now the Ramada Inn for our weekly meetings).
During his tenure with the Rotary Club of Belleville, Neil was chairman of the annual Rotary Skateathon, and the Quinte Science Fair and Hobby Show, another Rotary sponsored event.  Neil and his wife Vivian of 65 years have graciously hosted many Rotary Exchange students during his time with Rotary.
In addition to his work with Rotary and the above other organizations, Neil served as a Boy Scout Leader at Eastminster United Church for 15 years and was one of the founding members of the troop.  A long time member of Bridge Street United Church, Neil has been actively involved in the church life and spent considerable years on the Finance division of the Church and was a long serving chair of the division.  
Garth personally spoke to his first hand opportunity to witness Neil's wise and sensible leadership as they worked together on the Board of the Belleville Cemetery Company over 10 years ago. 
Neil and his wife Vivian have 4 children,  Jane, John, Tom and Joseph (who passed away in the year 2000).  Happy to have Jane and Tom joining us today along with their spouses Bob and Helen joining us today.
Garth closed his presentation by congratulating Neil on the receipt of his Paul Harris Plus 3 recognition for his work in the community and the Rotary Club of Belleville.
President Doug presented Neil his Paul Harris Plus 3 and in his ever quiet and humble way, Neil thanked the club for this recognition and today's tribute.
President Doug talked about his experience as Vivian and Neil's sales agent when they sold their house and the 60+ year old fridge in the basement, which Neil had to modify when he first moved to Belleville to reflect our different electrical system versus what was available in Toronto and the fridge is still working and Doug noted was happy to see Neil had beer in the fridge.
After the presentation to Neil, President Doug announced that there would be 20 minutes of fellowship and encouraged members to reach out to fellow Rotarians that they have not had a chance to chat with recently or did not know well. The time was well employed by the club members in attendance and many conversations ensued.
  • December 16th at the Ramada, an evening Christmas Dinner for Rotarians with entertainment by the Hastings Prince Edward Children's Choir
  • December 23rd -- kids Christmas luncheon.  Please give names to Tracy so every child receives a gift from Santa.
  • February 29, 2020 -- District 7070 is holding a Foundation Grant Writing Workshop at the Whitby Public Library from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Lunch will be served.
  • SAVE THE DATE - April 1, 2020 100th Anniversary Celebration @ Ramada by Wyndham, 5:30 p.m. cocktails, 6:30 dinner.  Guest Speaker Jeffry Cardorette-Rotary International Director.  Business attire or black tie optional.  Tickets are $100 each and will be available on Clubrunner soon.
  • June 6th - 10th 2020 Rotary International Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Our weekly review of our Club History as we celebrate our 100th Anniversary.

Hubbard Tank/Hat Project  -

In the 1960s a popular fundraising activity was the sale of hats.  Manufactured by Rotarian Bob Lanning the hats were sold at the International Plowing Match and at the Belleville Fair. Besides funding services exclusively for crippled children, proceeds from hat projects provided in September, 1969, for the physiotherapy department of Belleville General Hospital a Hubbard Tank at a cost of $6,414.60 to be used in the treatment of both children and adults following orthopaedic surgery and for various physically disabling conditions.

Officer Orion

It could be termed a joint effort between a Belleville enforcer and a force in Belleville: City Police Services and the Rotary Club of Belleville.  The Club had decided to assist the local Police - community services branch - in the “hiring” of a new “officer” to help promote safety education for elementary school children.  The officer selected was part of that new breed of police - 5’4”, 180 lbs. - who came with his own trailer. To make the new officer welcome, and not just be a faceless automaton, the Club ran a contest to name the new recruit, open to children in Kindergarten through grade eight, in the Quinte area.  The name selected was ORION [which is defined in the dictionary as a constellation named The Great Hunter, and was seen by ancients as carrying a shield, club and sword.]  The winning name was submitted by Melody Storey of Sir Winston Churchill Public School.  In June of 1986 a cheque for $14,714 was presented by Past-President Bob McKnight to Chief of Police [and Rotarian] Bob Begbie, toward the cost of Officer Orion.

Quinte Exhibition

Beginning in 1984, the Club actively participated in the annual Quinte Exhibition performing varied duties - refreshment stands, ticket sales and security, banking and bookkeeping.  The Clubs participation in the 1984 Quinte Exhibition ticket sales netted the club over $3,500 as well as further adding to our reputation in the community through our visibility in a service role.  By 1987, this project had become limited to manning the ticket booths at all entrances to the Fair.  Proceeds to the club were $4,000.
Rotarian Mike Stiff introduced today's guest speakers, Miriam Uhrstrom, wife or our own Late Karl Uhrstrom and Warren McFaul, good friends who have been working on a water project that Karl was involved with and that the Rotary Club of Belleville sponsored.
How important is a glass of clean water?  The biggest health determinant in the third world is clean water.  Karl had made connections with people in Bolivia through his travels to a number of countries and when it became evident that children were dying before the age of 5 years old because they had no access to clean water, Karl started to work on the Bolivian Water Project.  His vision through his faith was one well at a time, one village at a time.  A gentleman by the name of Gonzalo became the face of this project in his village in the Andes Mountains called Vacas Valley.  People relied on farming and grew potatoes as a cash crop.  They lived very simple lives.  Once Karl and Gonzalo started to plan the project in 2009 to build wells in the villages the end result was a success story as 15 villages with 273 families now have their own source of clean water.  They are well.  They are healthy and have HOPE. (here is a photo of Karl in one of the villages)
Miriam and Karl were associated with Victoria Avenue Baptist Church and they sent the money to Bolivia for the project.  After Karl became increasingly unable to get around, Warren McFaul started to visit him more and more and of course, the conversation inevitably turned to Karl's work in Bolivia and the ongoing water project there.  Following Karl's death, Warren made plans for a visit to the center of South America where Bolivia is located.  Met at the airport in Santa Cruz by Gonzalo, the chief volunteer and administrator of the project in Bolivia.  There is no staff and no office.  The money donated goes directly to building the wells.  Warren and Gonzalo travelled up into the Vacas valley, an elevation of 11,000 feet, a barren landscape and cold.  The inhabitants are Quechua, indigenous people who inhabited South America prior to colonization.  They are the decendants of who we call the Incas.  They are a tiny folk with broad smiles.  They practise a mixed agriculture, raising cows, donkeys, pigs, sheep and goats.  They are able to grow alfalfa, barley, oats and broad beans, but their primary cash crop is potatoes.  The people are very poor by Canadian standards.  Warren wanted to tell the Club about how the money that we donated is being put to work.
There is no problem finding water as the water table there is high.  The farms are close to a lake.  If you dig, you get water.  The success of the Bolivian Water Project is due to the fact that it uses local materials and local labour.  The Quechua understand cement.  The monies donated provide steel rings which are a cement mould.  The family also receives a little bit of cement and rebar to get started.  They have to provide all the sand or gravel and all the labour and the rest of the cement that is required.  Once the well is dug and the cement rings lowered into place, the cap is installed and a manual pump made with parts readily available in town is built.  Warren pointed out there are some important take home lessons about this project.Gonzalo understands how important it is to keep administration costs low.  It is a labour of love to him.  Every dollar contributed is spent on the wells.  The Quechua have a huge vested personal interest in the solution that the wells provide.  A Canadian dollar has 10 times the purchasing power it has in Canada.  The continued support of this project is a great investment that saves and improves lives. 
This incredibly successful foreign aid project is run out of a tiny downtown church here in Belleville, funded by Rotarians and other concerned community members.  This project is a wow moment.  On behalf of the Quechus folks that Warren met last winter, "gracias grandes amigos".  Thank you dear friends.  Your generous contributions have enhanced their lives immeasurably.  For more information visit
December 2019
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Rotary Stories
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Reef revisited

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Laura Bush addresses Rotarians

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International Inspiration

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Home Page News
President Doug was very pleased to present Karen Baker with a Paul Harris + 6 pin, a ruby, recognizing Karen as a Paul Harris Fellow for the 7th time for her contributions of over $7,000 to the Rotary Foundation.  Karen joined Rotary in 1995, a year after the first women were welcomed into the Club.  She is Past President from 2003-2004 and is currently on the Rotary Board of Directors, a very active member on the Board and in the Club.  Karen participated as a member of the Polio Vaccination Team and travelled to India in 2012, a first for a member of our Club.  Congratulations are in order to Karen for this very special recognition and commitment to Rotary.
Quinte Rotary Music Festival began in 1969 under the chairmanship of Rotarian Linton Read.  "Our aim is to create a healthy, competitive situation by which we can encourage the musical talent of children, young people and adults in our area", said Ken Wormald, Club President of that year.  "There are dozens of similar festivals across Canada receiving tremendous support.  We feel this is one of the most exciting musical events for Belleville in 30 years".  It was also pointed out that the Festival was not seen as a money-making project for the Club, but rather as a service to the Quinte area.  The planning of the event took literally dozens of Rotarians.  As this was a first for the local Club, everything had to be done and learned from scratch.  Halls had to be rented as well as pianos.  Adjudicators had to be engaged, tickets sold, programs prepared, advertising published, entries received, schedules made up, prizes obtained, certificates printed, scholarships sought out, etc.  The first year there were 32 sections of competition, with as many as a dozen classes in each section.  In total, there were 413 classes of competition, with well over 1,000 individual participants.
The Festival was a huge success and it was decided to continue the event on an annual basis.  By 1972 the participants then had reached the 1,900 level (about 1,300 in 1971) with scholarships awarded amounting to $1,400.  There were several innovations in 1972:  organ competitions were held for the first time (at St. Andrew's Church) and a band competition was added.
The 1975 edition was the biggest Festival to that point and it was the first year the Festival was jointly sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Belleville and Trenton.  The 10th Annual Festival in 1978 saw the addition of dance competitions.  This served to show case the talents of students at the Quinte Dance Centre, then still in its early years of operation.  In 1985 the dance section of the Festival was dropped due to lack of sufficient entries.
The Rotary Club of Picton joined Belleville and Trenton as co-organizers of the Music and Dance Festival in 1979.  Then Past District Governor Wilf Wilkinson, co-chairman of the Festival, said the expansion to include Picton came through a suggestion of the school boards.  The impact of the Picton participation was evident the following year when a record number of entries were received.  Festival chairman, Past President George Zegouras, said "we have 582 entries and compared to the previous high of 508 in 1978, this is going to be the best year ever for contestants".  There was a drop in entries the following year, the reason cited as being the late distribution of the syllabus, but entrants rebounded in 1983 to 653.
As of 1986 the Festival was still going strong with about 450 entries for the 18th annual competition with a new generation of participants involved.  An appropriate touch for the latest Festival was the appointment of Dr. Gregory Butler as adjudicator in the piano section.  Butler is a Belleville native who has gained a world-wide reputation as a concert performer and teacher.
In 2019 the 51st Annual Music Festival featured 369 entries, representing the various disciplines of music.  A new feature included the adjudicator travelling to schools for band and choir competitions.  Many festival participants have graduated from university with degrees in music and are enriching the lives of others with music as an avocation in part due to their participation in the Quinte Rotary Music Festival.