In early 1913, members of the Seattle Club (#4) and the Vancouver Club (61) brought the idea of Rotary to Victoria. They contacted Victoria lawyer Frank Higgins to promote the idea, canvassed local businessmen, and the idea of Rotary caught on very quickly. Within months the Rotary Club of Victoria was established as Club #90. The inaugural banquet was held at the Empress Hotel on 15 Nov 1913 with Frank Higgins as President. Forty-one charter members attended. The first secretary was Boer War veteran Captain Tom Goodlake, who held this post for twenty years before serving a term as president. The Club met at the Empress Hotel for over 75 years before moving to the the Princess Mary Restaurant. In 2005 our regular meeting place moved to the Union Club where we meet on Thursdays at noon. Club presidents have included a number of Victoria mayors and several provincial cabinet members. Hockey legend Lester Patrick was president in 1921-22.
Over the years, Club 90 has participated in virtually thousands of local and international projects, and many activities supported and continue to support youth, such as the Youth Exchange, and the Ambassadorial Scholarship program. In the early days, the Club did much to publicize the city, to develop the tourist trade from the US and also to attract new industry. The Club lobbied and provided financial support to numerous activities such as the Island Highway, the Crystal Gardens, the iron and steel industry, the Queen Alexandra Solarium, the Willows Fair Ground, the Community Chest, the James Bay Boys Club, the Esquimalt Drydock, the Salvation Army, the YMCA, the establishment of Royal Roads as a Naval College, the establishment of Goodwill Enterprises and on and on.
Club 90 was also responsible for the establishment of the Chamber of Commerce and what is now Tourism Victoria. In 1948, the Club sponsored the Tourist Bureau building which remains today on the Inner Harbour Causeway.
Community support has continued to the present. During the last decade the Club's financial infusion to local and international programs exceeded $1million. Significant activities include an $85,000 donation to the Cancer Research Centre and a number of large donations to Polio Plus. In 2010 a major contribution enabled the Mustard Seed to purchase a new refrigerated truck.
In 2003, the Club celebrated its 90th anniversary with more than a dozen celebratory activities including a formal banquet, the awarding of Paul Harris Fellowships to a number of local eminent citizens and the production of a Rotary insert for the two local newspapers.
As one of the first hundred clubs in Rotary, the Rotary Club of Victoria, BC, was proud to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Rotary International. Club 90's principal centennial project was the creation of a ROTARY welcome garden at the ocean/cruise ship terminals, which will be a permanent gift to the city and will welcome myriads of visitors, we hope for the next hundred years.