by John Borst, PP Rotary Club of Dryden, ON

100 years ago, Rotary’s first International president, a Canadian from the Rotary Club of Winnipeg, wrote this Christmas message in The Rotarian.

“There is no growth unaccompanied by growing pains…peace is a universal fact which can only be realized in the fullness of the days…the ultimate achievement of spirit will be at the end of a long and painful process.”

— Christmas Message, THE ROTARIAN, December 1917

RI President 1917-18:
E. Leslie Pidgeon D.D., Rotary Club of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Rotary vision: Unity of thought and purpose as a means to world understanding and peace.“

pidgeonDr Leslie Pidgeon was the seventh president of Rotary International and the first president who was not a citizen of the United States. He was the first international president from Canada.  There has been a total of five.

Born on a farm in Quebec, Dr Pidgeon became a nationally prominent United Church minister.

Shortly after the convention of 1915, Pidgeon moved to Winnipeg and became a member of the Winnipeg Club. In 1919, he organised a National Conference on Education that brought dozens of delegates to Winnipeg from all over Canada.

Like Rotary founder Paul Harris, Pidgeon never served as a club president, a district governor, or a director before becoming international president.