In early 1980 a small group of members of the Victoria Rotary Club felt that it was time to form a new Club in Victoria, specifically a Breakfast Club. There was a fair amount of opposition to this idea from some members of Victoria Rotary Club who didn't agree that another Club was needed. Sidney, Saanich, Oak Bay, Colwood and Brentwood Clubs were all operating at the time so they thought there were enough clubs.

However, the idea had the blessing of the District Governor at the time and the founding members - Fred Bartlett, Cecil Prowse, Allen Rowan-Legg and Kevin McLaughlin - went ahead and rounded up about 25 prospects. In early August 1980 the first meeting of Canada's first breakfast club (provisional) was held at the Laurel Point Inn (thus the name Harbourside - chosen by Founding President Fred Bartlett).

The meeting facilities at Laurel Point were less than satisfactory and the club soon moved to the Princess Mary Restaurant (private room upstairs - table service!).

We soon had enough members to charter and our Charter night was held on Sept. 27th, 1980 when the District Governor installed the Officers and Directors, with Fred Bartlett as President, Cecil Prowse as President-Elect and Tom Martin Sr. as Vice-President.

We had a good relationship with the Princess Mary, who told us when we had 60 members they would set up a buffet breakfast. We achieved this within a couple of years, but shortly after, due to the economic downturn, the Princess Mary politely asked us to look for a new venue. They could not justify bringing in staff just for the Harbourside breakfast.

The Club found a new home at Harbour Towers but this also did not work out well. After a couple of other bad starts, we were able to make arrangements at the Union Club, our present location.

In the early days, fund raising efforts were quite modest but our members were much involved in the community from the start. The first major fundraiser was raffling a boat, motor and trailer which were moved around from one shopping mall to another. This project raised a lot of money over several years, but it required much member input and commitment of time. It taught some people the meaning of the mantra "Service above Self"!

Harbourside Rotary was also very involved with Camp Thunderbird and the Boys and Girls Club. The Boys and Girls Club was a long time commitment of our charter member Alan Potter, who was the father of the benefactor of the Harbourside Foundation, Michael Potter.

In a joint project with the Oak Bay Club, we developed the Lookout on Beach Drive S.E.

In 1989 we inducted our first women members; Chris Dysart and Bev Rozee (see the story of women in Harbourside Rotary). Including women was undoubtedly one of the best decisions Rotary ever made, and Harbourside's women members have always been active, totally involved Rotarians.

In the early '90s Alan Potter and Jim Warr were able to convince Government House that the eastern portion of the Government House grounds would be an ideal place for the Rotary Garden of International Friendship. Several work parties were required to bring this to reality. We solicited plants, shrubs, trees and donations from Clubs around the world, until RI stepped in and said we could not continue. But by that time we had a pretty good collection and the garden became a reality. The staff and volunteers at Government House were most helpful in developing and maintaining this garden.

In 1994 a member of Harbourside, who was Superintendent of Schools and trying to turn around an inner city school, got a number of her fellow members to assist in this process. This began an association with George Jay Elementary. Rotarians made toast for children who had no breakfast; assisted students in class room subjects; and provided a number of noon hour activities including a very active chess club. Harbourside also provided upgraded computer equipment and teaching programs.

A number of children were exposed to Rotary activities where they acquired role models and a sense of community responsibility. Several became involved in Interact and Rotoract and continue to assist on Harbourside projects. Undoubtedly many are future Rotarians. Six of these students, who distinguished themselves in community service, have been designated as Paul Harris Fellows by individual Harbourside members.

The Club still maintains a close relationship with George Jay and has an active relationship with the Central Middle School where several members volunteer to serve breakfast.

Our next major fund raiser was the Hoot. Originated by Tom Martin, the Hoot generated significant funds for many years.

Harbourside, through its World Community Service Program has also supported many international projects with Club raised money and member participation. These have included water well projects in Kenya and Honduras; micro credit projects in Costa Rica and Guatemala; and, education, literacy and economic development in Honduras (2010). Harbourside also supported Mosaic in South Africa and John Martyn School in India. Harbourside invests in Operation Eyesight restoring the sight of people in the third world as a way to thank our weekly speakers. Harbourside has sponsored many Shelter Box donations to Haiti and other counties. Many more worthy projects were undertaken over the years.

The first ever Rotary sponsored delegation was a visit to the Soviet Union which was led by and included three members of Harbourside.

The membership of Harbourside continued to grow despite an approximate 10% loss annually as people changed jobs, was transferred out of town, or developed greater family responsibilities. In l998, we hit a peak membership of 113. Like most Rotary Clubs, however, Harbourside subsequently settled into a fairly stable and sustainable number of approximately 90 members.

In 2010, Harbourside observed its 30th Anniversary. We were honoured to have the presence of Wilf Wilkinson, President of Rotary International in 2007 as our guest and keynote speaker. Wilf is the only Canadian to hold that high office since l952.

Harbourside continues to grow and prosper, with more women members and younger members. We will continue to be a significant contributor to both local community projects and International projects.

Compiled by Jim Warr with input from Tom Martin,Barry Adams, Mike Creery, Bill Feyrer and Jack Jeffery