History

Probus clubs were first formed, as an acronym for Pro(fessional) and Bus(iness), in the early 1920’s in Saskatchewan, CANADA, and in New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A., the latter devoted to helping people with mental retardation, physical disabilities, and autism. Because they were not restricted to retired Professional and Business leaders, and had a different objective, they are (were) not associated with our present mainstream of Probus clubs worldwide.

The name was fused into a different type of club in England, and the first non-sectarian Probus club specifically for active retirees was formed in 1966 by the Rotary Club of Caterham, England to allow retired professionals to continue to meet together for fellowship. The previous year, the Rotary Club of Welwyn Garden City, England, formed the “Campus Club” that had the same purpose. The two soon merged and flourished under the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Bromsgrove, Birmingham, England.

In 1974, Probus expanded into New Zealand and by 1976 the idea had spread to Australia. The first Probus club for seniors in North America was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Galt in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada in 1987. Although Probus membership has its greatest concentrations in Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, clubs today exist in all parts of the world, including the U.S., Belgium, India, South Africa and several other countries in Africa and Asia.

Late in 1987 Oakville’s Rotary Club assigned John Graham and Al Histed to set up a Probus Club in Oakville. Things moved quickly. An advertisement was placed in the local newspaper announcing a meeting to be held on January 12 1988 at the Howard Johnson Hotel (now The Holiday Inn) on Argus Rd.. The meeting room had been booked for 40 people but 200 showed up. Fortunately the hotel ballroom was available and the hotel management permitted the meeting to be held there. On February 18, 1988 ProbusCentre-Canada Inc. chartered the club making it the fifth Probus club to be chartered in Canada. Both John Graham and Al Histed subsequently became club members. Its first president was Jack Milne. Charter membership (those joining by May 1, 1988) numbered 57, and a few of those still remain  members (as of 2012). –  John Parish