Of the hundreds of people who pass through the intersection of Beach Road and Fern Road West in Qualicum Beach every day, few would take note of the old stucco building in the northwest corner of the intersection that today is known as Rotary House.
The house carries a lot of history. It is rumoured its life began in Nanaimo during the Second World War as an officers’ mess hall at the Canadian Scottish (Princess Mary’s) Light Infantry Regiment, according to information from the Rotary Club of Qualicum Beach Sunrise Society’s public relations director, Mike Haas.
At some point during the 50s, 60s or 70s it was moved to 138 Second Ave. West in Qualicum Beach and served as the Club House for the Qualicum Pythian Fraternal Society. In June of 1984, a Qualicum Beach company, Hodgson Electric, wanted to acquire the Second Ave. West property in a land swap for their 211 Fern Road West property. An agreement was reached that Hodgson Electric would move the building from Second Avenue to the Fern Road property, construct a concrete foundation and hook up all utilities in return for the 138 Second Ave. West property.
The Qualicum Pythian Fraternal Society were now the owners of the 211 Fern Road West property and continued as such until early 2001 when their membership decided to disband the society and reached an agreement to transfer the property and assets to the Rotary Club of Qualicum Beach Sunrise Society. On June 19, 2002, the property transfer became official.
While Rotary House is much older than the club, the roots of the club go back to May 16, 1997 when it was chartered and had 20 members.
Sunrise Rotarians are part of Rotary International, a global network of 1.2 million members in 167 countries in more than 35,600 clubs. Rotarians are passionate about basic education and literacy, economic and community development, disease prevention and treatment, peace and conflict resolution, water and sanitation, and maternal and child health. Rotary is best known for its worldwide fight in the eradication of polio.
Rotarian volunteers are still travelling to countries with people infected with the virus to inoculate children against this deadly disease. From more than 350,000 known cases back in 1985, the assistance of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the financial backing of Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, there is now less than 50 cases in three countries.
Rotary House has been the catalyst in bringing Sunrise Rotarians together to be part of this massive project. Rotarians in Qualicum Beach also contribute to our community by raising funds to support local projects and organizations that provide needed services in the Oceanside area.
Rotary House has been an important part of the Qualicum Beach community over the years and has served as a venue for many community and private functions, including birthdays, anniversaries, music recitals, movies and hall rentals for other organizations. The hall is made available free of charge to qualifying District 69 non-profit groups. For more information and to book the hall, go to www.qbsunriserotary.ca and click on Rotary House.
— NEWS staff/Submitted by Mike Haas