A short history of Rotary in the Central Okanagan on the 12th anniversary of Ogopogo Club, which sponsored the Lake Country club in 1996.

By Bill Fennell,Rotary Club of Kelowna Ogopogo

On December 16, 2005, the Rotary Club of Kelowna Ogopogo will celebrate its 12th birthday. In the writing of the club's history, we won't go back as far as Paul Harris but let's try for May 22, 1928 when the Rotary Club of Vernon reached out and chartered the Rotary Club of Kelowna. They met at the old Royal Ann Hotel until it burned down then they met at the old Legion, at the Gold's Gym then back to the Royal Ann and finally settled in at The Grand.It took 40 more years before the Rotary Club of Kelowna chartered the Rotary Club of Kelowna Capri East (now just Capri) on February 22, 1968, in the year that Dr. Harold Henderson was District Governor. That Club started meeting at the Capri Hotel and have so ever since.

Then on February 28, 1975, in the year that I was President, the Capri club chartered the Rotary Club of Kelowna Rutland (now Morningside). The Club met at the Four Seasons then Bella Bimba, the Best Western and finally the Ramada Inn. They also changed their meeting day and time from Monday at 6 PM to Monday mornings at the Sandman Inn in 2001, and finally Friday mornings at the Ramada in 2002 when Frank Buckland became President after their Club Treasurer had absconded with $60,000+.

On November 14, 1976 Capri chartered the Rotary Club of Westbank.

And 7 years later on January 12, 1982, the Rotary Club of Kelowna Okanagan Mission, Canada's 500th Rotary Club, was also chartered by the Capri Club. They started out at the old Eldorado Arms then moved to The Carvery until 1992 then they met at the Capri for 5 years, Duffers for a couple of years, changed their meeting from Tuesday evening to Monday evening and have settled in at Manteo Beach Resort.

I was District 5060 Governor in 1985-86 and spearheaded the formation of Kelowna's first BREAKFAST club with the chartering of the Rotary Club of Kelowna Sunrise on April 26, 1986. They initially met at the The Lodge Ramada until moving to Friends & Neighbours for 3 years then the Royal Ann for 9 years and finally the Yacht Club in 1999. That year our District 5060 won a Zone 22 trophy for chartering the most new Rotary Clubs, all BREAKFAST clubs. Around that time, Rotary International was going through some serious changes. For 73 years it, along with Lions, Kiwanis and some others, had been all male membership but in 1978, the Rotary Club of Duarte, California challenged RI by inviting three women to join. This was followed by a series of state court battles which eventually ended with the US Supreme Court ruling that service clubs MUST admit women to membership. At the 1989 Council on Legislation, the RI Constitution was changed by eliminating the "male only" stipulation and the way was open for female membership.

None of the Kelowna-area Rotary clubs had even considered having any female members and the Old Cougars were still of the opinion that it would be a frosty Friday before their Rotary club would be so tainted! So in 1993, I set about to form a mixed gender Rotary Club --- the Ogopogo Club, which was chartered on December 16, 1993 and had its charter night at The Grand in the spring of 1994.

The idea was not to pirate existing members from any other Rotary Club but we did have some pretty good Rotary content in Charter President Frank Buckland who had been a member of the old Rutland Club; Bill Gibson, investment advisor, who was a Rotarian in Edmonton; and Laura Gosset who was a lawyer/real estate salesperson and a former Vancouver Rotarian. They became our first 3 Club Presidents. Murray Ramsden was the 35th person to sign on as a Charter Member; he had been a Group Study Team Member to Sweden in 1982-83.

The Formation Committee had a few representatives from other Kelowna Rotary Clubs but the main effort came from myself and Dr. Harold Henderson as it had in all of the other charterings. Frank Buckland was more than a Charter President and we also had great support from my long-time friend Brownie Krushen of the Capri Club. After a couple of meetings in the Board Room of Federal Business Development Bank we shifted to the Chamber of Commerce Board Room, then a couple of meetings at the Capri and finally settled at The Grand with 17 gals and 18 guys.

No matter what the Downtown Club says, we were the first service club to meet there but, in 1997, decided to move to the Kelowna Yacht Club and have been happy here ever since.

Ogopogo Club has never sponsored an Ambassadorial Scholar or a GSE Team Member. We do have the distinct honor of next year having Noreen Redman serving a 3 year term as Assistant District 5060 Governor of Area 4. And we did sponsor the Rotary Club of Lake Country in 1996.