BEAUSEJOUR LIONS CLUB
— THE HISTORY —
September 1948 to February 2011
As prepared for submission to
The Beausejour Centennial History Book
by Lion Linda Baxter
In 1917, Lions Clubs International began as the dream of Chicago insurance man Melvin Jones. He believed that local business clubs should be actively involved in the betterment of their communities and the world at large. His efforts led to the formation, on June 1, 1917, of a new group called the ‘Association of Lions Clubs’. They chose the motto ‘We Serve’ to show their dedication to helping those in need at home and around the world. In 1925 Lions Clubs International accepted Helen Keller’s challenge to become her ‘knights of the blind in a crusade against darkness’. The first Canadian Lions Club was formed in 1921 and in 1922, the Winnipeg Lions Club was chartered. In the fall of 1948 members of the Winnipeg Lions Club came to Beausejour to recruit local business men to start a Lions Club.
On September 18, 1948 the first group of Beausejour businessmen had an organizational meeting. Tom Winton, a special representative from the Winnipeg Lions, explained the aims and objects of Lionism. An initial slate of officers was elected: President J. Armstrong; 1st Vice President A. Greenberg; Secretary/Treasurer J. Robertson; Tail Twister O. Russell; and E. H. Gretsinger was appointed Charter Night Chairman. Meetings were to be second and fourth Mondays of the month. After a general discussion it was decided the Charter Night would be held on Monday, the 22nd of November, 1948. By the end of the organizational meeting 20 had signed up as charter members of the Beausejour Lions Club: Joseph Abramson, H. Armstrong, K. Batenchuk, Joe Bellan, A Bronstein, Dr. J. Brook, F. Dreffs, M. Einhorn, A. Friesen, A. Greenberg, Ed Gretsinger, R. A. Hayes, G. Hoban, Elmer Kreger, Albert Larson, John. Leeder, Dr. H. Lippman, M. Harold Matheson, Arnold Meltzer, Sid Meltzer, John Robertson, James Rosenstock, Oscar Russell, Claude Shields, and John Sinnott.
The actual first meeting of the Beausejour Lions Club was held on October 12th, 1948. At that meeting the rest of the board of directors were elected. A $3.00 membership fee was decided upon. Most importantly, they decided that the new Club’s goal would be ‘Betterment of the Community’. The Club’s first project as a group was to create community support for a local hospital before the October 22 town poll.
The first dinner meeting was held at the Beausejour Hotel and catered by the owner, Mrs. Hayes. Members of the Winnipeg Lions Club came to teach the Beausejour Group how Lions conduct a dinner meeting. The Winnipeg Lions stressed the importance of a real lively activities committee and its various programmes. They also pointed out the importance of the membership chairman and his committee. They urged that the new club drive for more members. Meeting attendance was also stressed. The meeting was kept lively by the jokes and antics of the Winnipeg Lions Tail Twister Don Young. The Winnipeg Lions had their Enterprise Committee speak on various activities and methods of fund raising, objects, etc.
Plans for the big Charter Night Celebration included a dinner for limited numbers followed by a dance and entertainment open to everyone. The tickets were $5 per couple for dinner and dance and $2 per couple for the dance. The Charter Night reception committee greeted guests. The dinner meeting was formally called with O Canada, an invocation, and toast to the King. Mayor Pulfer spoke on the fine ideas of Lionism and wished the club every success. Each visiting guest was introduced. The entertainment started with vocal solist, Miss Constance Trithart, accompanied by Sandy Hayes on the piano. The Winnipeg Lions, with Harold Green on the piano, livened the evening up with several vocal selections. The District Governor, Karl Slocomb, spoke briefly on Lionism, it’s organization, and aims. He then presented the International Charter to Club President Jas. H. Armstrong. As well, the District Governor presented his personal gift, an inscribed gong and gavel. That gong still graced meetings in 2011. The large purple and gold Lions International Banner was presented by Lyle Cameron, President of the Winnipeg Lions Club. The closing remarks were made by L. S. Matlin, Barrister and Police Magistrate who predicted a successful future for the organization. Following ‘God Save the King’ everyone retired to the Town Hall for a fine dance and refreshments with music provided by Harold Green and his band from Winnipeg.
Regular meetings continued at the Beausejour Hotel with a light self serve lunch of sandwiches, etc. at the conclusion of meetings. Membership fees were raised to $5.00 to cover costs including unexpected costs of the Charter Night. During 1949 the Club carried out several activities. A Lions Curling Bonspiel with 4 sheets of ice was held on January 16. The first project was the carnival held on February 18 and 19. For the Carnival, the club purchased a public address system for the arena. The Queen Pageant had candidates from the High School, Knights, Women’s Institute and the Lions. 2000 copies of a 48 page programme filled with paid advertising were ordered and numbered for a lucky draw. The club started plans for the July 1st celebration. No record of the July 1st event was found.
In June of 1950 the Lions were involved in the Winnipeg Flood. A special committee was formed and a special phone line was installed at the town office to contact the Red Cross, and others in Winnipeg. Trucks were lent and a motorcade was on the way to the city by 5:30 am. Phil Shuster remembered his first activity as a Lion was sand bagging in Winnipeg. The Lions also co-ordinated the evacuation of 112 people to Beausejour where they were provided with a lunch, then dispersed to their volunteered billets at private homes. The committee checked in with each ward and made sure that each householder could manage for the present. The Red Cross was able to cover $1 per day per person for food. Clothing had to be locally donated. Food requisitions and meal tickets were used. The club purchased dishes for use in the meal programme. The dishes were later donated to the Women’s Institute. The club incurred costs mounting to $400, a huge sum in 1950, in connection with the Flood Relief Programme.
From this brave beginning the Beausejour Lions Club has continued its growth and service to Beausejour and area and through Lions Clubs International, to the world. This history cannot cover all the activities throughout the years and all the members who have worked so hard for the club. Thanks to an almost complete set of minutes and through the efforts of the many secretaries to record the activities of the Beausejour Lions, this history can highlight some of the projects through the decades.
The Lions Club was made up of the community’s business men who were also the fathers of the town’s youth. They gave their time to make sure the local youth programmes were active. From 1951 to October of 1963 the Lions paid the 1st Beausejour Troop fees to Boys Scouts of Canada and were instrumental in that Troop’s development and success . The club sponsored the local hockey and baseball teams and ran the baseball programme for several years in the 1950’s. In 1959 the Lions purchased tickets and car pooled the Scouts, School Patrol Boys and Town Band members into the Shriner’s Circus. Lions started up the skating club in 1960, hiring and paying the coach. This program ran until 1964 when it became the Beausejour Figure Skating Club. In 1960 the Lions partnered with the Women’s Institute for what would become many years of swimming lessons at Colmer’s Park. The Lions took on advertising and the car pooling of the young swimmers out to and back from the Park. July 3 to 15, 1966, when D. Bowler was the Lions swimming chairman, all the Red Cross Swimming Classes except beginners and below, were moved to the Sand Pit. The Lions funded construction of a raft and continued to fund the Red Cross programme costs. In the early 1970’s the Red Cross Swimming Lessons were turned over to thenew Recreation Council. Three Lions sat on the very first Recreation council.
Starting as a new club in 1949 and through the 1950’s the Lions realized that the new Memorial Arena would need a lot of work and a lot of money. The Lions put on tool belts to lay floors, re-sheet the exterior steel walls, build the fire escape and over the decade fund raised over $13,000 for the Arena. An amount, in that day, that would buy a really nice house. Support for the arena continued after 1960. Over the years the Lions have donated toward the artificial ice plant, and in 1974 purchased the Zamboni and tractor for $5420. When repairs were needed for the Zamboni the Lions Club helped out. That tough little Zamboni made the move to the new Sun Gro Centre in 2002. The Lions Club continued to support Sun Gro Centre.
As a project, the Winter Carnival, started in January, 1949, with lots of Entertainment, a Hockey game, a Moccasin Dance, sports events for the kiddies, and a Queen Contest; a 48 page programme – all for an admission of $1. The sale of ads in the programme was the major fund raiser. This continued to be the major fund-raiser that supported the Beausejour War Memorial Arena. Each following year the Carnival format was similar with most of the profit coming from the selling of ads in the up to 60 page programme. The committee structure and work involved were huge and several times the project faltered, each time to be revived by a new committee.
In 1960 Eyfi Walterson chaired the 2 day Carnival which featured 20 girl skaters from Selkirk, 2 skaters from Pine Falls, 2 local girls, the RCAF band from Gimli, PeeWee and Girl Hockey games. Lions were dressed as the front and rear of a skating donkey, rabbit and lion. Friday evening concluded with a moccasin dance. There was also a beard growing contest. That weekend’s profit was approximately $1400. Other groups that participated included the Beausejour Jay Cees., 4-H Club, Beausejour Army Cadets, and Len Drewlo.
In the 1960’s the Lions Club was 35 members strong and active. Newpaper cuttings of the 1963 Winter Farewell and CPTC races are the source for that year’s Winter Farewell. Leading up to the event were challenges across the border when Beausejour Lions, lead by Eyfi Walterson, attended a Lions Mid Winter Convention in Thief River Falls with a dummy Beausejour Beaver newspaper front page issuing a challenge from Beausejour Mayor Bert Larson to Thief River Falls Mayor Lorne Green to a snow shoe race. By March 1st all mayors and reeves in the Winnipeg and the Eastman region had been challenged. Several mayors took up the challenge. News photos showed, gathered in front of Beausejour’s Town Hall for the race, Beausejour Mayor Bert Larson, Thief River Falls Mayor Lorne Greene, St. Boniface Mayor Joseph Guay and CO Anderson of Beausejour RCAF.
The Lions stated that they were ‘sponsoring a Big Event March 1 and 2 which is called the ‘Winter Farewell’ . We don’t think we are being too rash in predicting that in a very short time this annual event will become one of the best-known winter attractions in the entire province of Manitoba. While, naturally, our main aim in this venture is to raise funds for charitable purposes, we are also concerned with helping ‘put Beausejour on the map’. Our show this year is going to be great. The Canadian Championship Power Toboggan Races, the Cutter Races, the Powder Puff Derby, the Ice Show, the Sno-Ball, the Championship curling clinic, all these are calculated not only to help our cause, and that of the town, but yours as well.’ The Lions committee chairmen were: General Chairman, Jim Colmer; Parade, Bill Murray; Power Toboggan Races, Hugh Gordon; Curling Clinic, Jerome Shuster; Fireworks, Mike Lucko; Sno-Ball (dance), Phil Shuster; Cutter Races, Fred Slevinsky; Snow Shoe Races, Bill Middleton; Ice Show, Eyfi Walterson, Queen Contest, H. H. Mitchell, and Publicity, Art Olfrey. The Masquerade Sno-Ball (admission $3) took place Friday evening, March 1st, at Colmer’s Park. Saturday was a packed day. It started at 9:00 am with High School Curling; and regular Curling matches took place all day, special sales at downtown stores, Mayors Tour of the town in Cutters, Mayor’s Snowshoe Race at noon – winner was CO Anderson, the mayor’s luncheon, parade at 1pm, Horse-n-cutter races at the High School Grounds, Toboggan Races with heats on a closed course at the High School Grounds, Powder Puff Derby, the Canadian Championship Toboggan Race at 3:45pm with an evening Fireworks display followed by the Ice Show. The Ice Show started with music by the Beausejour Boys Band. The Royal Procession and Coronation Ceremonies of the Winter Farewell Queen, 16 year old Gail Loeb, representing the Beausejour High School were highlighted with her crowning by Blue Bomber Nick Miller. The Ice show featured guest skater and gold medalist, Pat Riordan, from the Greater Winnipeg Figure Skating Club. Following the ice revenue was a Broom Ball Game between RCAF Station Beausejour and the Beausejour Mad Russians. The evening ended with the singing of ‘God Save the Queen’.
Queen Contest winner, Gail Loeb was presented with a Fur Jacket from Hurtig Fur Co. (purchased by Dr. Robbie, J. Bellan Q.C., W. C. Middleton, Dr. Giesbrecht, Dr Turner and A. H. Bastman), a Lady Shaver donated by Mitchell’s Electric, A Set of Luggage donated by McLeod’s, a gift from H. Shuster and Sons, and a one week vacation at Colmer’s Park. All these sponsoring businesses and businessmen were Lions. The runners up, Jean Martin, and Ruth Jurgenson and Gail each received a Banlon Sweater donated by Robinson Stores, Sheaffer Pens donated by Beausejour Drugs, Toiletry Sets donated by Mitchell Drugs Sundries and a boxes of nylons donated by the Farmers Store.
The 1963 race was the first Canadian Power Toboggan Championship race and the Champion was Larry O’Neal, of Winnipeg riding his Bombardier Ski-Doo to an airborne finish, completing the 6 mile cross country trek in just 19 minutes and 10 seconds,. Leading until the half way point was Paul Krawchuk on his speedy Bosak machine but he spun out during a high speed turn on an icy stretch and did not finish the race. O’Neal had a good lead at the finish line. Veterans drivers considered it one of the toughest courses they had ever encountered. Machines took a beating from the rock hard snow drifts and some even broke through the ice at the St. Ouens Bridge. During the heats, Beausejour drivers Mike Bosak and Paul Krawchuk, took two of the four heats only to have their machines forced out of the final heat by a broken throttle wire and a sheared pin in the steering mechanism. The powder puff race had ‘six competitors who roared round the course in an awesome display of driving ability. This event was won by Betty Hiebert of Niverville who nosed out Helen Nordman of Beausejour in a photo finish.’ Race chairman Hugh Gordon and his co chair Bill Kozyra thanked the RCMP for reporting the race by police radio, the RCAF personnel who acted as judges, the scouts and their leaders who assisted with crowd control, and everyone else who co-operated to make the races a success.
By 1965, Winter Farewell, chaired by Jack Graham, had a Queen Contest finishing on Thursday night where the winner flew to The Pas on Friday morning to take part in the Trapper’s Festival, appear on Radio & TV, and the Hudsons Bay Co.’s Parade, Programme, Dance and special events. Back in Beausejour the sale of Winter Farewell Hats and Rex the Lion (filled with candy) was brisk. There were Friday night events in the Arena with the King of the North (from The Pas) in attendance. Over the weekend there was an Indian Pow-Wow, a raffle with a Honda as the prize with tickets $.50 or 3/$1.00. CKRC challenged the Press & Radio of Winnipeg to a smoosh race. Winter Farewell Headquarters were set up on Main Street both days and manned all day. There was a Saturday pancake breakfast. A Mayor’s Dinner was held with 18 dignitaries coming from as far as Medicine Hat. There were Cutter Races, an Indian Craft Show, Hay Rides, a Curling Bonspiel with a $1000 prize, a Bowling Tournament, Street Dancing, the Queens Ball with a band from Pine Falls, and a Press, Radio and Lions Reception. The weekend also had a Teen Dance in the Town Hall and a Square Dance. A prize was given for the best decorated premises. A Winter Farewell office was set up in Kaatz’s store starting one week prior to the festivities and employed a part time secretary. The committee even made a film. Work was done to get an article into Sports Illustrated and the Lion Magazine. Work on the 1966 Winter Farewell had already started for a bigger and better event when J. Graham resigned as chairman of the Winter Farewell and A. Anderson from Beausejour RCAF explained that the base could continue to support the races only as long as the base was open.
With the goal of the Winter Farewell becoming self sufficient, the Lions Club looked to turn over the Winter Farewell to an expanded committee of the various groups and organizations in town. The Lions approached the Jaycees, Chamber of Commerce, Women’s Institute, Legion, Town of Beausejour, Forresters, Agricultural Society, R. M. of Brokenhead, Knights of Columbus., Men’s Curling Club, Women’s Curling Club, Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League, Anglican Women’s Guild, St. Mary’s Alter Society, Cadets, Skating Rink, Agassiz School Board, Beausejour School Board, and the RCAF Base. The Winter Farewell Committee became its own entity. The Lions Club had sponsored the CPTC races for the inaugural 5 years, going through some financially rough years and with a significant capital investment. It took a lot of discussion. Then finally, the CPTC races were turned over to the Winter Farewell Committee.
The Lions involvement with Winter Farewell was not finished. Noteworthy examples are, when requested to participate, on Februrary 22, 1979, the Lions ran a Casino Night over the Arena. In 1981 they helped with the co-ordination of many events. By the fall of 1994 the Winter Farewell committee was exhausted and came to ask the Lions to, once again, take over Winter Farewell like they did in the ’60’s. The Lions realized it would be a huge undertaking but agreed to give it a try. With a great committee in place the Beausejour Lions Winter Farewell 1995 advertised with placemats in all the restaurants and had opening ceremonies, a Huge Family Fun Day , Treasure Hunt (print picture 1), a great Night to Remember, a Poker Derby, Chilly Willy (the mascot of many years), a Lions Parade, food concessions, and the Curling Toss on the CPTC oval which made the Guinness World Record Book. Many other groups also took part with their own events including the Queen Pageant. In 1996 several key members of the Lions committee had moved away and the club scaled back the Winter Farewell 1996 to the opening ceremonies, Family Fun Day, Curling Rock Toss, Poker Derby, Night to Remember, hamburger soup contest judging, and advertising. The Queen Pagaent’s long time committee turned the event over to the Agassiz Lions Club rather than have it die. The Agassiz Lions had no experience in this area and, although willing. would have had to depart from the traditional format. Diane Hastman, the former chairman, returned now as an Agassiz Lion and, with the added committee members from the Lions Club behind her, began another successful run of the Queen Pageant. In 1997 the Winter Farewell’s Lions Club participation was down to the large Family Fun Day, the Queen Pageant and a Western Dance that was later dropped as it conflicted with a Beausejour Stars Social.
Although the CPTC was a separate entity, a close attachment continued with the Lions Club for many years. When the Lions Club established the October Turf Races in 1968 it became a huge fund raiser, but also demanded a huge amount of man power and expertise. The Lions soon turned to members of the the CPTC for their expertise in running the actual races. This continued until 1985 when the Lions membership had declined, manpower was short, and the CPTC took over the Turf Races . The CPTC asked the Lions to run the gates and the Lionesses ran the concession. Finally by 1988 the Lions retired from the Turf Races all together. In exchange the Lions helped out with the actual CPTC February or March races by manning the gates and running the pit canteen. Over the years, the pit canteen grew from a project where the water had to be hauled in the day before the races started and there were occasional fires in the stoves from mouse nests, to a beautiful canteen with running water and all the conveniences. (Print Pic 2) Eventually the Lions canteen efforts were turned to the main canteen run by the Beausejour Lioness with the Lions and spouses helping. The Edward Schreyer Leos also helped with the gates and canteen. Eventually other groups became involved and the Lions retired from the CPTC races.
From 1979 on, the community benefited from the increased Lions Family with the addition of the Beausejour Lioness Club (print pic 3), who became the Agassiz Lions Club, and the Edward Schreyer Leo Club. Both the Agassiz Lions and the Leo Club continued to serve until 1992. Although large projects were making the newspapers, the club had many other annual activities that continued for many years. From 1951 to 1966 a Halloween Party was held with as many as 600 youths attending. By 1966 it was deemed the Halloween Party ‘no longer kept the unruly youth off the streets’ and it was discontinued.
The March of Dimes Campaign ran from 1952-1955. Then, in 1957, the Easter Seal Campaigns started raising between $500 and $1000 a year until 1966, when it was discontinued. The need to have funds available when small or large donation requests were received was always a major concern. To this end, the club has held ‘200 Club’ draws, bingos, madri-gras, community auctions, co-op BBQ’s, and ticket sales of all kinds as fund raisers. The Lions, Lionesses and Leos had individual projects and also worked together on the big ones. A popular fund raiser in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s was the Tinned Christmas Cake sales. In 1981 and 1982 there was an In Car Bingo held out at the CPTC grounds. Several Halloween Balls were held although none were very successful fund raisers. Another project started in 1989, by Jack Arran, was custom made rustic signs with family’s names on them. The signs were sold door to door by the Lions and made by ARC Industries. The Entertainment Coupon Books were sold for several years starting in 1992 and finally the project was turned over to the Edward Schreyer School. The Lions have also developed some really major fund raising projects. Frank Kerr chaired the Octoberfest and Mini Folklorama held each October from 1987 through 1989. With the Beer Gardens in the afternoon and then great entertainment from the Manitoba Folk Lore Council, it was great time. In 2002 the Lions Club took a idea Steve Day brought from the Swan River Lions Club and held an annual Beausejour Lions Home and Leisure Show for the next 6 years. (print pic 4) Over the years it became hard to find the manpower to get all the work done and attendance faded so the project was ended.
The Lions Club has been involved in all kinds of community events. During Summer Sizzle in the early 1990’s the Lions ran a food concession. The Lions have added their voice and commitment to the building of the Library, Community Hall, Splash, and the Handivan. The Brokenhead River Regional Library got a start up donation of $2,000 for reference books. The Brokenhead River Community Complex had support of all the Lions Clubs Family both financially and on the Board of Directors. Charlie Relf came to the Lions Club in 1985 and received a pledge of $2000 to finance the planned wading pool building and other costs for South End Playground. Later that spring Charlie asked the Lions to turn that money over to SPLASH, which they did. When the Beausejour Handi-Van project started, the Lions Club made a 3 year pledge of $500 per year, plus served on the Board of Directors. Over the years the Lions have helped the Handi-van with the purchase of a wheel chair (print pict 5, e pic 1)and a special grant that could be used to support planned outings that fell short of the needed numbers.
The Lions Club has taken part in all of the Town’s special anniversaries. For the 50th the Lions Club brought in a 90 piece band from Proctor, MN. Being too busy doing projects, rather than writing a history submission, the 50th anniversary book has only a picture of the then current Beausejour Lions Club members. For the 75th anniversary, the Lions held a beer garden at St. Mary’s Hall and ran a Kite Race at the Centennial Grounds.
In 1959 the Lions declared that there was a need for a Kiddies Park. A committee was struck and, over the course of the next seven years, met road block after road block as they tried to find a suitable location. In 1966, with the Centennial Committee support, the Lions Club investigated a project in conjunction with the Centennial Board Park programme. The Centennial Committee had already purchased land. Jerome Shuster was appointed chairman and, with his committee of Archie Neyedly, R. Giesbrecht and Gord Kaatz, suggested a Park 200 x 200 feet at the current Centennial Grounds with a wading pool, wash rooms, and trees planted by the JayCees. The investigation showed the original financing would have to be $5000. Maintenance costs for supervision, hydro, and water & sewer were estimated at $1000 per year. The Lions club had many discussions and realized that this would become an expensive and time consuming project beyond their continued financial ability.
In September of 1967 a committee of Larry McDannold, Pat Koslack and Roger Adolph were off to Selkirk to investigate an elderly citizens home project. They made an excellent report on an Elderly Housing unit, including cost of operation. Lion Pat Koslack was appointed chairman to look further into possible sites and plans for a Beausejour Housing project. In January 1968 the committee sent a letter to the Town asking for a resolution stating the Town was in favour of the Lions Club proceeding with a Elderly Citizens Housing Project. The committee met with officials from government, then reported back to the Lions Club with the original plan of a building with 12 single and 2 double units. Government requirements for a loan would allow for a budget of $13.50 per sq. foot with a total cost of approximately $109,700. The Lions equity would be $18,000 plus land, and the Government grant of $24,700 plus a loan of $67,000. This facility would need an operating budget of about $4800 per year. Rentals would be $70.00 a month for doubles and $56.00 per month for single suites. On Feb. 28, 1968 the Beausejour Lions club passed a motion to commit theClub to construct an Elderly Citizens Housing Project costing the club $25,000 in equity. A special ‘Ways and Means Committee’ of P. Shuster, J. Shuster, G. Brown, L. Stebbe, S. Meltzer began their work. This was the biggest project the Beausejour Lions had ever taken on, and now fundraising and publicity became very important. By April of 1968, the committee had toured another new project completed in McGregor. All applications for grants had been forwarded to the proper government departments. The Beausejour Lions began the process of forming a separate entity non profit corporation for the administration of this new facility. Possible names included Beausejour Lions Elderly Citizens Incorporated but it was finally called Beausejour Lions Lodge Inc. The architects preferred Mrs. Radons property on First Street that was 85 feet wide and 300 ft deep. Plans were approved and the target date to start construction was August 1st, 1968. By May, 36 applications from potential residents had been forwarded to CMHC. The Lions Lodge Board would be made up of 7 Lions until construction finished. Once completed, the Board was made up of 1 delegate from each of the Town and R.M., 1 representative of the Ministerial Association, 3 Lions members and 1 citizen outside of club. In the years that followed, board participation faded until in September of 2003 the Lions Club again took over complete management of Lions Lodge. Back in 1968 the Lions Club made available to the new non-profit entity, a start up grant of $4500. By May the plans had been finalized and submitted for approval, the deposit had been made on the property and it would be turned over to the club on July 1. Another parcel of land, priced at $500, being 50 by 150 feet at the back of the original property had also been purchased for parking and further development. The total property costs were $5.000. The final design had expanded to18 single units and 2 one bedroom units. The Town and RM Councils were approached for grants of $10,000 each. Town replied that they would do either a $10,000 grant or assess a 3 mills tax which would bring approx $12,000. In the end, the town donated a bond of $9374.70 presented by the Mayor, and the R. M.’s bond of $2000 was presented by Ed Burkowski. This left an additional $8,000 to be raised to cover that budget item. The Lions Club borrowed $9000 from each bank towards the Lions equity in the Lions Lodge. Bond sales continued with a brochure prepared for the public. (Print doc 6). The sod turning ceremony ended with a reception at the Officers Mess at the RCAF Beausejour Base. An open house was held at the end of March 1969 and was a great success with the visitors very impressed with the project. The Bond Drive, pushed by members, took several years to complete. By April 23rd, 1969, the Lodge was filled to capacity. In June the Lions owed the Royal Bank $8500. The official opening was held on September 14, 1969 at 2:15 pm. The original Lions Lodge Board of Directors had Lion Jerome Shuster, Lion Phil Shuster and Lion Bob Dyne, all of whom served many years on this board. Later Mrs. Warkentein was appointed to the Lions Lodge Board. Because it is the only non government owned and operated Elderly Persons Housing in Beausejour, Lions Lodge will always remain an important project for the Beausejour Lions Club.
The Beausejour Lions have been actively involved in the community since the Club started. In the 1950’s their first efforts were to lobby for a hospital. Once built, the Club furnished a room in that hospital. As able, the Lions have supported community efforts. In 1984 the Lions Club responded to a presentation from the Fire Department on how a MAST Pant could help in their life saving efforts. Those MAST Pants were quickly purchased. In 1991 a major project was fund raising over $11,000 to purchase the ‘Jaws for Life’ for the Fire Department. In the spring of 1985 the Agricultural Society approached the Lions Club to run their parade. The Lions hosted, invited, registered, judged and marshalled the parade until 1993. The Double B Rodeo started up in 1997 and the Lions have marshalled the parade for the Rodeo ever since. In 1984 the Lions purchased the JayCee’s booth at a cost of $100 donated to the Community Hall fund. Ever since, that Booth has been seen at Lions events and has been borrowed for many other community projects. During the 1997 flood, the military were housed in the Beausejour Area and fed at the Brokenhead River Recreation Complex Hall. The Lioness Club members were there every day helping in the effort.
One of the major interests of all Lions Clubs is sight related issues. Medical issues that affect families has also been an important service. Throughout the Beausejour Lions Club history the Club has taken on many sight and medical related projects.
From 1962 through 2009, an annual CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) canvass was held in Beausejour. (print pic 7) Over the years Beausejour has donated well over $50,000. Each year a representative from CNIB would attend a club meeting, give a wonderful talk on what the CNIB does and gratefully accept the club’s donation.
Since the Beausejour Lions Club’s beginning, the Lions have made a yearly donation to the Blind Curlers. A very special project for the Lions and new Lioness Club was in March of 1982 when they accepted the request to host the Western Canadian Blind Curler’s Bonspiel. The request was made by the East Kildonan Lions Club who sponsored a Manitoba Blind Curler’s Team. Two teams from each of the four western provinces played a round robin with points for wins and ends scored. Each team was made up of 1 fully blind person, 2 partially blind and one sighted person. The overall winners were the senior rink from BC. On this rink, 3 members combined ages totalled 225 years. (Insert picture 8 -12) Opening ceremonies were held on ice on the Friday night with dignitaries from all levels of government and Lionism taking part. The curling club ice area was decorated with the emblems of all the western provinces and the rinks were escorted onto the ice by Lion and Lioness members. Ray Desjardins, an East Kildonan Lion, attended the Saturday evening banquet representing the Lions District. It was a very successful event chaired by Jim York. The Club fund raised enough to cover the costs of the entire event and were able to return the $1600 grant back to the Winnipeg Blind Curling Club representative Lion Norm Lyons of the East Kildonan Lions Club plus donate a further $200 to Leader Dogs for the Blind.
Starting in Feb of 1981, and continuing for over 10 years, each January or early February Manitoba TV hosted the Lions Telethon. The funds raised from this event went to the Lions Foundation of Manitoba and North West Ontario to help individuals with medical issues that are not paid for by regular medical benefits. When a family needs to travel for medical care, stay extended times, or need equipment not covered by medicare, a local Lions Club can approach the Lions Foundation for help. The local club does fund raising or makes a donation that the Foundation can match, or issue Charitable Tax Receipts for donations received. During the years of the Telethon the Beausejour Lions Family participated. The Lions distributed Telethon Banks, hosted a phone centre and, for all those years, the Beausejour Lioness and Agassiz Lions held a Bowl-A-Miracle where the community bowled with pledge forms. These funds, plus donations from the Beausejour Lions and Edward Schreyer Leos were presented to Telethon. Members from the clubs helped at the Telethon. Leos ran messages and tallies, Lioness, Lions and Leos worked on the phones and security. During this time period, Manitoba got the Lions Eye Bank and Lions Clubs International started its first worldwide ‘Sight First Campaign’ working towards the elimination of preventable blindness. The Beausejour Lioness Club held a walk-a-thon in 1986 and in 1987 the Journey for Sight ( Lions Walk-A-Thon) started. The Journey for Sight continued until 1996. (E pic 2, 3, 4) Each year before 9 am all the participants would be transported by bus out to Seddon’s Corner and would walk, bike, or run back to town for a lunch, prizes, and fellowship offered by the Lions. In 1988 the Journey for Sight gave over to another community group walk-a-thon. Through the Journey for Sight, the Beausejour Lions were able to make a $3,000 commitment to Sight First. They also supported the Eye Bank, Leader Dogs for the Blind, Cavalcade for Diabetes (Diabetes is the number one cause of blindness in Canada), the Lions Foundation of Canada Canine Vision and other Lions projects. The Beausejour Lions also provided an overnight stop for the Habitat for Humanity Cycle for Hope in July of 1999. (E pics 5,6,7) The Lions directed by Jim York and Waldo Klassen took over the Edward Schreyer School for the event. The 20 cylcists had a secure place for their cycles. Everyone enjoyed the catered supper, morning breakfast, showers, sleeping space and of course fellowship with the Lions.
Lions Clubs collect used eye glasses which are sent to central locations, sorted, labelled and packed. These eyeglasses, along with volunteer Lions who are optometrists, doctors, and everything else, go on missions to third world countries. In just a week to ten days they give improved vision to as many as 10,000 people. For the Lions who go on these missions, it changes their lives. They recount how they met people who had walked for days to stand in line for hours or more days and then with eyeglasses see their spouses, children and other loved ones for the first time. It is hearing these speakers that make other Lions work harder.
The Beausejour Lions have had help from the Lions Foundation of Manitoba and North West Ontario on several projects. Five times the media has covered families who have had extreme medical needs and came to the Lions Club for help. Back in 1985 a boy from Anola, Andrew Kitkowski, needed a bone marrow transplant that had to take place in New York City. Under the leadership of Jack Arran, the Lions Club held a social, accepted donations, and applied to the Lions Foundation for funding. This became a two year process and finally Andrew’s family got the go ahead and the over $16,000 that had been presented at the Lions Telethon were used for a successful operation and recovery. In the ’90’s other projects for Twyla Jacobson, Gregory Godri and later, Nolan Thomas, took place. Most recently, in 2010, a group of Jo Ann Ingeburg’s friends approached the Lions for help so that Jo Ann could receive the ‘Liberation treatment’ for her MS. Through the friend’s efforts, the help of the Lions Club. and with aid from the Lions Foundation, the treatment was possible.
Gerald and Pamela Hawranik started the Beausejour Food Bank and, in 1991, the Beausejour Lions started an annual canvass for the Food Bank. Over the years, under the chairmanship of Frank Kerr and later, Arthur Burden, thousands and thousands of pounds of food made its way to the Food Bank. In 1997 the Air Cadets, and shortly after, the Scouts and Cubs joined in the Project. (E pics 8, 9,10) For the youth, it was an opportunity to provide community service. With their help, the entire community can be canvassed in one night. The Lions advertised and organized the event. Once all the canvassers dropped off the donations at the Food Bank, it was back to Lions Lodge for a lunch.
(E pic 11)A joint Beausejour Lions and Brokenhead River Recreation District Commission continuing project was the Community Calendar that began in 2007. Supported by advertising sales done by the Lions Club and with the contribution of events by the Brokenhead River Recreation District Commission and Outreach for Seniors the publication was distributed free to 4700 households in the Beausejour marketing area.
Just as in 1948, when the Winnipeg Lions extended Lionism to the Beausejour Lions, so have the Beausejour Lions. In March of 1963, H. Mitchell and W. C. Middleton helped start the Lions Club of Lac du Bonnet. Eyfi Walterson started the Pinawa Lions Club in the fall of 1964. In 1979, the Beausejour Lioness Club was organized in September and held its Certification Night on October 20, 1979. It’s liaison to the Beausejour Lions was Bun Baxter. In January of 1984, Bun Baxter guided the Whitemouth Lions Club. In September of 1984, the Beausejour Lions sponsored the Edward Schreyer Leo Club whose liaison was Lioness Linda Baxter. Then, on October 3, 1992, the Agassiz Lions rose out of the Beausejour Lioness Club and were guided by Eyfi Walterson. On June 30, 1998 the remaining Agassiz Lions members joined the Beausejour Lions Club.
Through the years, the club has benefited from a long line of presidents, secretaries, treasurers and committee chairmen. Since 1948 Beausejour Lions have broadened the Club’s horizons by attending numerous Mid-winter and Multiple conventions, and met Lions from all over the world at 6 International Conventions. Lions members have participated in Officer training both as attendees and instructors. Several Beausejour Lions have also served Lionism beyond the local community and thereby brought knowledge back to benefit all of Beausejour. The first Lion to take office beyond Beausejour was W. C. Middleton, who was Zone Chairman in 1962-63.
Since then, the list continued with: Eyfi Walterson, Zone Chairman, Deputy District Governor and several years on the Lions Foundation of Manitoba and North West Ontario Board of Directors and a Melvin Jones Fellow, 50 year member (E pic12); Douglas Karl (Bun) Baxter Zone Chairman, Deputy District Governor, 5M-12 Lions Cabinet 2 years Lioness Co-Chairman, 8 years Extension and Retention, Lions Foundation of Manitoba and North West Ontario Board of Directors, Make a Miracle Board of Directors; Linda Baxter 2 years on the 5M-12 Lions Cabinet as Lioness Co-Chairman; Brent Muirhead Zone Chairman; Frank Kerr Zone Chairman, Region Chairman, numerous years on 5M-12 cabinet with Membership, Extension and Retention and a Melvin Jones Fellow; Phil Shuster a Melvin Jones Fellow, Life member, 55 year member (E pic 13); Doug Sobering, Zone Chairman; Dick Critchley, several terms as Zone Chairman.
The Beausejour Lions Club has continued the 1948 goal of ‘Betterment of the Community’.