Retired professionals meet to challenges themselves

March is PROBUS month across Canada and the three clubs on the Saanich Peninsula are celebrating.

Ron McLeod

(Updated March 17 to correct spelling error. – Ed.)


March is PROBUS month across Canada.

Not sure what PROBUS is? Well, ask a retiree in your community and you might get an answer.

The club is a haven for retired professionals of almost any age. It’s a group of like-minded people who gather to share ideas, ask questions and stay healthy — both in mind and body.

And that name — PROBUS — it’s a combination of “professional” and “business” or the backgrounds of all of their members.

There are three PROBUS clubs on the Saanich Peninsula. The Brentwood Bay group is the youngest of the three, having split off from the Saanich Peninsula club, says its president Bob Erickson.

“It was created in 1990,” he says. “As a spinoff from Saanich Peninsula, it was a way to address the long waiting list.”

Each club, he notes, has a cap on its membership. For the Brentwood Bay club, it’s 100 people; at Saanich Peninsula it’s 125; Sidney’s group is set at 200.

“We started the Brentwood club from 20 people who were on that waiting list,” Erickson says, “and it grew from there.”

As local social clubs, PROBUS members do not actively seek out public works, says Jane Hall, president of the Sidney branch. Their focus instead is on their own members.

“There are many retirees on the Peninsula,” she says.

“Some are not that old at all.”

There are 400 members between the three clubs, adds Ron McLeod, president of the Saanich Peninsula branch. He notes there are approximately 240 clubs across the country — and more world-wide. In Canada alone, there are 32,000 members.

“We just thought that in this area, we should try to raise the profile of PROBUS,” he says. “The groups keep our minds and body active and encourage everyone to be social.

“It’s a great way to meet people in your own communities and stay active.”

Hall says each club has a variety of sub-committees, based on its members’ interests. Those can vary from golf, dinner and theatre tour groups, to arts and culture activities.

She adds PROBUS regularly hosts speakers, invited to talk about hot issues of the day — and to answer probing questions from the professionals in the group.

“It’s a good group,” says Hall of the Sidney branch. “I’ve met some very good friends through PROBUS.”

PROBUS officially began in Canada in Ontario in 1987, although Hall says its roots are older than that and grew as a sort of offshoot of Rotary Clubs.

While no longer a part of Rotary, the club acknowledges that bond.

As PROBUS clubs were established on the Saanich Peninsula, they started as men’s-only groups — a tradition maintained by both the Brentwood Bay and Saanich Peninsula clubs. McLeod and Erickson note their clubs are the only men’s only branches on the Island.

The Sidney branch is co-ed, says Hall, as are 60 per cent of Canada’s PROBUS clubs.

She says the others are evenly divided between men’s and women’s only branches.

To learn more about PROBUS, attend one of their regular meetings.

The Sidney club meets at 9:15 a.m. at the Mary Winspear Centre every second Tuesday of the month.

The Brentwood Bay club meets at 10 a.m. (9:30 for coffee) at the Brentwood Bay Community Centre on the third Tuesday of each month.

The Saanich Peninsula group meets at the Presbyterian Church on East Saanich Road at 9:30 a.m. on the first Thursday of each month.