Chartered May 31, 1991, the Men’s PROBUS Club of Newmarket is marking a milestone 30 years of fellowship and entertainment.
For the past three decades, retired and semi-retired men from all backgrounds, businesses, and creeds have been brought together to socialize, keep abreast of current topics, and network with new and familiar faces.
The Men’s PROBUS Club of Newmarket will be celebrating its anniversary with a socially distanced Zoom event from 10 a.m. to noon May 19. Newmarket Mayor John Taylor will be the keynote speaker, while past president and current secretary Doug Wrigglesworth will provide a history of the club. Other speakers include the president of PROBUS Canada, president of PROBUS Global, and the mayor of Newmarket, England.
PROBUS, which stands for professional (PRO) and business (BUS), is an international social club for men and women that aims to provide “fellowship, friendship and fun” for more than 350,000 retirees worldwide.
Just under 100 members of the Men’s PROBUS Club of Newmarket come together the third Wednesday of each month from across southern Ontario to enjoy thought-provoking guest speakers, drinks and snacks, good conversation, and, often, an after-meeting meal at a local pub.
The Men’s PROBUS Club of Newmarket encourages anyone who wishes to attend the event to reach out for a meeting link via its website. Those who would like to join PROBUS or experience the club themselves are welcome to attend this, or any other meeting, as well.
“Especially with the pandemic, the club gives us something to do, it keeps us busy,” said Sunny Lau, president of the Men’s PROBUS Club of Newmarket. “It’s a great group of guys.”
Though the past 30 years have seen some changes to the club’s structure, like less focus on trips and, especially in the time of COVID-19, an increased reliance on technology, the club’s commitment to providing a “non-profit, non-political and non-sectarian” environment for members has remained the same.
Lau, a member of the Men’s PROBUS Club of Newmarket for five years, Wrigglesworth, a member for 10 years, and Dick Furlong, a member for 16 years, all spoke to the rich friendships, diverse connections, and strong support system the club brings to members.
“When I went into the club, I knew nobody,” said Furlong. “It’s a way, really, to enhance your acquaintances and, certainly, your friendship base. Now I have 100 friends, whereas when I walked in the door, I had one.”
“It’s been one of the great joys of my ancient life,” joked Wrigglesworth. “Grand group. A chance to meet people of like experience, people who tend to have had interesting lives and are pretty well read and involved in the world.”
Two of the Men’s PROBUS Club of Newmarket’s original members, Al Roeder and Charlie Williams, remain active in the organization today.
Initially sponsored by the Rotary Club of Newmarket, the Men’s PROBUS Club of Newmarket has since gone on to sponsor the Lindsay Men’s PROBUS Club and the PROBUS Club of Toronto, directly or indirectly leading to 2,000 new members in Ontario.
Though the club normally meets at Newmarket’s Seton Hall, they’ve switched to Zoom for the duration of the pandemic. 2021 guest speakers have so far included MODA Nutrition founder Tony Vassallo, CHATS CEO Christina Bisanz, and storm chaser David Chapman.
“As we all go through our business lives, we build up relationships and look at them as friends,” said Furlong. “But once we retire, a lot of those friends drop off… PROBUS has really replaced that part of our lives.”