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The seeds for the Montreal Club lie with Chicago, Winnipeg and Halifax Rotary Clubs.

The real beginnings, however, take off when H LeRoy Shaw began to communicate with W A Peace, the first President of  The Toronto Rotary Club.  From such correspondence, an initial, informal meeting was held on 18th September 1913 and then a week later (25th September) at the Freeman's Hotel where Shaw was elected first President and Herbert R Swenerton secretary. The first general meeting took place on October 2nd at the Freeman's Hotel where 13 members were present. Entrance fees were set at $10 (Canadian) per head.

Shaw said "If we can club together - representative men from the various kinds of professional and business life in the city - we will form a group or club that will have undoubted influence for good, and make an impressive contribution to the City's development." In November, Shaw went on to appeal to every member "to do his best to make the club a force (for good) in the community".

Members reflected "the spirit of responsibility to each other and to the communities in which they resided and, perhaps, presented a higher conception of what Rotary meant than was at that time general".

The club grew from a charter membership of 14 to 30 within a year and by 1920 there were 136 members rising to over 400 by the 1960s.

The club soon moved to Cooper's Restaurant on Notre Dame Street before in September 1915, they settled in the Engineer's Club before returning to Freeman's Hotel.
The first projects of the Club focused on Youth and Social Service. The first main project saw the erection of a cottage in 1917 at the Boys Farm and Training School, Shawbridge - a school for problem boys - cost $15,000. The cottage was named after Rotarian John S Lewis who was killed in action at the Battle of the Somme, 1916. Fro over 20 years, Montreal Rotary Club overwrote the cost and Rotarians served on the Board of Directors. The Club were also involved with the Boys Home of Montreal inspired by Rotarian Owen Dawson who worked in the Juvenile Courts.

The Annual Boys Christmas Party was inaugurated in 1919 - 130 boys attended initially rising to a peak of 346. The Club also helped to establish Canada's first summer camp and helped raise money for Weredale House, the new boys home for Montreal.

The first Boys Week of 1926 was conceived from an idea of the Rotary Club of New York. Montreal Rotarians helped in this coordinated plan for youth.

In Social Service, the club contributed to help needy families with aid estimated at some $750 up to World War Two. During the war, Montreal Rotarians volunteered to host children of British Rotarians.

Former RI President E Leslie Pidgeon joined the Club in 1925. The Club also gave the movement RI President John Nelson in 1933.

Montreal helped extend Rotary, both in Quebec and Ontario, as well as in New York State. Some of the Clubs Montreal helped form include: Smiths Falls, Ontario; Quebec City; Malone, NY; Plattsburg NY. In its first 50 years Montreal chartered no less than 21 new clubs.