The PROBUS Story

Your Honour and Gentlemen, I am filling in for Bill Sexsmith, a Director and Vice President of Probus Canada and Past President and Honourary Life Member of our Club, who was unable to be with us today.

Today as we celebrate the National Probus Month of March and the 30th Anniversary of Probus in Canada, Bill asked me to present his summary of the Probus Story. The PROBUS concept of forming groups of recent retirees as non service clubs, started in 1965 from an initiative of the Caterham Rotary Club in England. The name PROBUS was chosen, being an acronym for PROfessional and BUSiness, characterizing the nature of the proposed membership. The purpose was to provide a regular meeting time and place for persons who wanted to stay in touch by continuing their personal development through invited speakers, social involvement and active participation. Rotary continued to act as the sponsoring organization. PROBUS clubs were introduced to New Zealand in 1974, Australia in 1976 and Canada in 1987. Today the worldwide membership is estimated to be 400,000.

This year PROBUS Canada celebrates its 30th anniversary!

John Reynolds Morris was the founding member of the PROBUS organization in Canada with the first club being established in Cambridge, Ontario on March 17, 1987. The second club was formed in White Rock/South Surrey, British Columbia, in September of the same year. Canada now has 238 clubs with 34,300 members. Each club, while guided by PROBUS Canada, has a standard constitution and is relatively autonomous, having its own Board of Directors.

PROBUS Canada, with a Board of 12 Directors, provides national stewardship and overall support for each of the Canadian clubs. There are 12 districts across Canada, each led by a District Director, who liaises on a regular basis with each of the clubs within her or his district. In addition to the elected Directors there are three permanent – part time positions – Managing Director, Webmaster and Financial Director. The national objective is to achieve an annual growth rate of 1-3% through existing club growth and new club additions.

British Columbia has three districts, with 47 clubs and 6,756 members. The clubs are diverse, ranging from small to large, male, female, combined (male and female), and urban to suburban. The Vancouver and North Shore Clubs are all within BC District 2 (Fraser Valley to the Lower Mainland) which has 13 clubs and a membership of 2,302. Within the Vancouver and North Shore area prospective members have a choice among, 1-combined, 3 women’s, and 2 men’s clubs. Our Club, the Probus Club of Vancouver, held its Charter Meeting on May 20th 1997, with the late Fred Cotton as the first President.