The Rotary Club of Winnipeg-Charleswood’s Lobsterfest is its biggest fundraiser every year. Jim Forestell has served in a variety of capacities at the event since its inception 30 years ago, including chairman, co-chair and head lobster chef.

The dinner typically draws hundreds of guests and raises thousands of dollars for the club’s philanthropic efforts.

"Seeing 600 people from the community come in, enjoy themselves and support the Rotary club is very satisfying," Forestell says. "I get a lot of joy from that."

The retired Royal Canadian Air Force pilot first joined a Rotary Club in 1976. He was stationed at CFB Trenton in Southern Ontario at the time, and saw it as an opportunity to help improve the community.

Forestell joined the Charleswood club when he moved to Winnipeg in 1986. It’s one of more than 46,000 clubs around the world — including eight in Winnipeg — that aim to serve others, promote integrity and create lasting change in the community.

Now 80, Forestell has fulfilled a variety of roles during his time as a Rotarian. He’s been club president, district governor, organized the Rotary Youth Exchange program, chaired three district conventions in Winnipeg, and sat on the district policy board.

Lobsterfest, however, is one initiative he’s involved with that always stands out.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Forestell and fellow volunteers would serve more than 600 guests a sit-down, full-course lobster dinner.

Lobsterfest was cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic, but returned last May in the form of a curbside pickup event.

The club sold more than 600 dinners and raised around $15,000. It donated that money to a variety of initiatives, including STARS Air Ambulance, the breakfast program at Westgrove School, and Assiniboine Forest and Urban Stable, an organization that offers therapeutic horse riding for youth.

After more than 45 years as a Rotarian, Forestell says seeing the difference the club makes keeps him going.

"I’ve had a pretty fun and fortunate life… and it just seems right to repay that fortune by doing something to make the community a little better," he says.

Forestell is a great Rotarian and citizen, says Jack Wilson, a fellow member at the Charleswood club.

"He’s a very knowledgeable and involved and committed person," says Wilson, who has known Forestell for 20 years. "He’s very dedicated to serving the community and helping people."

Forestell and his fellow Rotarians are busy planning this year’s Lobsterfest, which will offer meals for curbside pickup June 17.

As always, proceeds from the event will allow the Rotary Club of Winnipeg-Charleswood to continue its efforts.

"We just try to do good work to make things better for everybody — to make the community a worthwhile and peaceful place to live," Forestell says.

For details about this year’s Lobsterfest, or for information on how to join the Rotary Club of Winnipeg-Charleswood, visit