By Henry Drury, Past District Secretary, Rotary Club of Hawthorn

One early reliable source refers to the Canterbury landscape as undulating, elevated and pleasantly well watered. ‘Well watered’ perhaps, but the sale of stronger fluids until recently were prohibited, as Canterbury was at the heart of the Temperance Movement’s ‘dry’ area of Melbourne.

Originally a part of Balwyn and mainly supporting market gardens and orchards, the locality was named Canterbury after Viscount Canterbury, Governor of Victoria, 1886-73. By 1891 nearly all the area was sub-divided for residential, but—except for some late Victorian boom era mansions such as ‘Frognall’ at 54 Mont Albert Road—it was not substantially built on until the early 1900s. Canterbury from that time has seen the steady development of many gracious homes in garden settings described in understated real estate promotions as ‘desirable’ just for starters!

Through the energetic promotion in the local business and professional community by Rotary Balwyn member Alan Thomas, who was the then-Special Representative (now titled Assistant Governor) for DG John King, Canterbury Rotary was chartered on April 7, 1987 with 36 new members.

President Tony Laycock aptly describes his club as having contributed “significant community and international projects and activities all undertaken with an approach embracing fun and fellowship”.

Youth is strongly supported in every acronym in the Rotary index including GSE, RYLA, RYPEN, NYSF and Rotaract. Community Service sees the club involved in community gardens, scholarships for local schools, Relay for Life and Camberwell market just to pick a few at random.

A signature program is the FORaMEAL project conceived by Past President Dr Doug Hawley OAM in his 2016-17 term. Enthusiastically supported by the club, this project involves coordinating volunteers from across the Rotary network to produce, box and seal approximately 150,000 nutritious meals for distribution to families in disaster-affected regions across SE Asia. The COVID pandemic and the lockdowns saw the club set a FORaMEAL goal of distributing 100,000 meal packs as “our club’s simple way of bringing hope” to the distressed and needy in our own community through the Stage 4 restrictions.

And consider this. “Without bees and other pollinators much of the world’s food supply would end.” Naturalist David Attenborough gave the world-wide impetus, but Canterbury is one of the founding clubs in the rapidly expanding ‘Rotarians for Bees’ program in Australia. For more details please visit the website at


In summary, Tony concludes: “I am proud to be President of a club which celebrates diversity, has an energetic membership actively focussing on strong projects where we see there is need.”