Posted by Nick Aroutzidis on Sep 22, 2018
September 27, 2018: Brian Elliot, “Habitat for Humanity Heartland”, Harry Brightwell will introduce, and Bert Clifford will thank our speaker.

Head Table:  Our President Paul Roulston, invites, Harry Brightwell, Ron Bean, Guy Bellehumeur, Norm Bird, Roger Black, Carolyn Blackburn and Bill Braun, to join him at the head table.
Today at Rotary:  The program today featured one of "our own"--Stratford resident and author --Dean Robinson. Dean began by reminding the club how grateful he is because of the Paul Harris Fellow we gave him a few years ago. He recounted a conversation he had with Doug Page soon after he had received his PHF. He was quite pleased and excited until Doug pointed out that he shouldn't be "so pumped up about it"--the club gave one to a dead person! TANKS Doug!
Our program speaker was Dean Robinson who wrote two books on the Railway industry in Stratford and showed ½ hr documentary he helped make.
Dean's presentation was a 30 minute documentary that included interviews with former rail workers and lots of pictures and commentary. It was a very meaningful presentation whether you were a long time resident of Stratford or a recent one. In 1870 the Grand Trunk Railway realized that a centre was need to repair steam locomotives and Stratford won out over St. Marys. In 1907 the shops were built that were the size of two football fields. The railway shops became the biggest employer in the city along with Kroehler's furniture factory. There was a roundhouse separate from the shops as well. The locomotives that needed repair "really needed repair"! At any time there was 28-44 locomotives in the shops, and they needed a variety of vocations to get them back on the tracks. They were essentially rebuilt and looked brand new when they emerged from the shops. It isn't until you hear/see a presentation that you begin to comprehend the importance of this industry to the city. In addition to jobs and homes, the industry also affected the arts--music/plays, sports-building of National Stadium& YM/WYCA, and activities like fall fairs, and greenhouses where trees and plants for the city were grown. Bob Moorehead commented that the railway industry was "the legs that carried Stratford" When the CNR announced in 1958 that the shops would be closing the city was in disbelief. By 1964 it was closed, and the city was not a very positive place to be living--would Stratford become a ghost city? As it turns out Cooper Bessemer had begun moving into the shops to built turbines for the oil industry out west. This company was able to keep many of the rail workers employed, and a new industry was beginning to prosper--the Festival Theatre.
It was great to listen to the men and women who were interviewed, particularly the ones some of us know personally. Dean also interviewed railway enthusiasts who talked about the influence and significance of the railway industry to the city of Stratford.  An heritage enthusiast reminded us that what remains of the shops has a lot of EQUITY--it would be a shame not to make use of our past ! Thanks Dean for an interesting and meaningful presentation.
Dean was introduced by Rheo Thompson and thanked by Harry Brightwell.
SCRIBE: Wilhelm Zitrone
Memorabilia brought in by club members on history of Railway and CN shops.
Excerpts from the film
Our program began with Gerry Wegan presenting a banner from the Rotary Club of Wegan, England . Gerry Wegan and his family visited this community this summer. Mimi Price congratulated all those who helped out with the Dragon Boat races this past Saturday. It was very successful ,and------- there was NO RAIN!
Guests:  Today we welcomed: Jim Henry, Gerry Wigan, Susan Wigan, Sarah Wigan, Chris Wigan and Brad Beatty.
Draw: The gift of an anonymously donated was drawn and won by Paul Siberry.
President Paul presented a ribbon to, Angus MacDermid for his 2200 perfect attendance and Philip Schroeder for his 100  perfect attendance.  Congratulations Angus and Philip !!!!
Make-ups: Elizabeth Gaffney to Ottawa West Rotary Club.
September’s Attendance Committee: Steve Rae (I/C), John Hood Tidman, Ken Nesbitt, Berny Nymeyer, Gordon Sherwin, Harry Brightwell, Ian Fisher, John Fisher.