Down memory lane
Beausejour Lions Club
The Beausejour Lions Club was organized september 28, 1948 and received its charter, November 22, 1948. The event was held at the Beausejour Hotel which is still in operation on park avenue in downtown beausejour. This was the meeting place for the next many years.
It was then owned and operated by the Hayes family who were long time residents. R. (Sandy) Hayes was a charter member. They were famous for their sunday chicken dinners and many older Winnipegers will remember that these tasty birds were raised behind the hotel. There were no steroids, no forced feeding, no supplements in those days.
There were 25 charter members listed for charter night. J. (James) H. Armstrong was elected President and J. (John) Robertson was secretary treasurer. This position was later split. The Winnipeg Lions Club members were our sponsors and their president, lion lyle cameron, made the presentation of a large purple and gold lions banner from their club.
Lion district governor karl slocomb presented the charter from lions international as well as his own personal gift of a gong and gavel.
Lion ed gretsinger, charter night chairman, introduced the toastmaster for the evening. Lion charlie carter (carter motors) who later became an international director. Harold green, a member of the winnipeg club, and his famous orchestra provided the vocals and music for dancing afterwards for the princely sum of $65.00 lou s. Matlin, barrister and police magistrate was guest speaker and to quote from the recorded minutes of that evening – “presented a very fine address, predicting, among other things, a successful future for our organization.” how true that has turned out to be.
To put the time in perspective, the year 1948 was when barbara ann scott won the gold medal for figure skating. It was the year that william lyon mackenzie king resigned and louis st. Laurent became prime minister. The following year, 1949, saw newfoundland become canada’s tenth province with joey smallwood as its 1st premier.
In 1950, disastrous floods hit manitoba’s red river valley and we remember it as the winnipeg flood. In 1952, king george vi died at sandringham and in 1953 was the coronation of queen elizabeth ii. This now sets the time in history.
The club raised thousands of dollars towards the building of the beausejour brokenhead memorial arena. The club sponsored an on going figure skating program with the crowning of a winter carnival queen annually, and also red cross swimming lessons in the summer. For years, the lions club staged an annual halloween party, giving out 400-600 bags of treats along with musical entertainment, games and clowns to keep the kids off the street. An eye testing machine for $275 was donated to the school district for screening student’s vision. For brevity’s sake this 50 year’s history will be restricted to mentioning some of the highlights & accomplishments of the club – an overview if you wish.
Membership peaked at 52 in 1957 and in 1998 stands at 19. Recruiting new members and membership retention has always been a struggle, especially these latter years where both parents work with little spare time for service to the community.
The beausejour lions club has served its community well these years and is no different from other clubs throughout the world who give of their time, energy and talent for their communities.
We have engaged in most of the traditional lions activities and to mention only a few, they are: Club visitations, walk-a-thon, district conventions, telethons, blind curling support, cnib canvas, leader dogs, easter seals, journey for sight, yearly canvas for the local food bank, and countless fund raising ventures.
A lot of money has been raised for local projects as well as district and international appeals, nothing has been too trivial to consider; such as a wheelchair for a resident; a tv for a handicapped family; groceries for a destitute family. All this was done quietly without fan fare and publicity.
There are a few projects out of the many that this club is especially proud of. Two involve family assistance and are community oriented. As we know, service organizations like the lions clubs are often called upon to respond quickly in a medical emergency or disaster. Such was the case of a pre-school boy in october, 1986 who required a bone marrow transplant to be performed at a new york city hospital. The funds raised would go towards paying non-medical expenses such as transportation, lodging and food. Mom was the donor and $16,500.00 was raised. Andrew is now a healthy young man. Lion jack arran was the committee chairman.
The second family assistance request came in the year 1989. A rural pastor’s wife needed a bone-marrow transplant and the donor was her brother. The procedure would be carried out at a vancouver hospital. Again we would assist in out of pocket expenses. A total of $16,000 was raised with lion doug sobering as chairman.
In 1963, the lions club initiated a new and novel event which would soon put the community of beausejour on the map. The weekend celebration in february would be the community’s way of saying “good-bye to winter”, and called it “winter farewell”. The activities would revolve around all the fun things we do in winter and culminated in the staging of the canadian power toboggan championship races. Just keep in mind that way back then, snowmobiles were known as power toboggans!
Little was it realized then, that this meager start consisting of 15 stock machines run in the school yard would grow into an international racing event attracting thousands of spectators and requiring hundreds of community volunteers.
In 1965, the lions club registered the name c.P.T.C.. In 1966 the rights and management were relinquished to the community as a whole, because the club members could not possibly provide the manpower necessary for such a massive event.
What an example of complete community involvement. The races are still run annually to this day. The second community project occurred in 1967-68. Plans & funding were underway by the lions club to provide the community with its first senior citizens home. – “lions lodge” the cost, including land purchase, was set at $170,400. The community share or equity was set at $28,000. The balance would be raised by a 50 year, $141,300 mortgage from cmhc which the club undertook.
The result in 1968 was accommodation for eighteen single units for $56 per unit and two double units at a rental of $70 per unit. Our ongoing commitment is to raise enough money annually to cover repairs and maintenance. The provincial government sets a ceiling on the rentals charged to the residents. Beausejour lions lodge was incorporated and the inaugural meeting of the board was held sept 14, 1968. The first residents moved in during february, 1969.
Of more recent community projects all worthy of mention, one has been the purchase of the “jaws of life for the local fire department worth $12,000 and a portable heart monitor for our ambulance service.
Through out the years the efforts of this club have been many and varied. There has been a tendency to lean towards local assistance more than international appeals. It maybe somewhat self serving but the expression still applies – charity begins at home —
the beausejour lions club has been very conscious of expanding the world of lionism by chartering the following clubs:
Lac du bonnet lions club – 1963
pinawa lions club – 1964
beausejour lioness club – 1979
whitemouth lions club – 1983
beausejour leos club – 1984
agassiz lions club – 1992
the club has been honored many times by having a member appointed by the district governor to his cabinet for a period of 2 or more years at a time. They are: Lions bill middleton, eyfi walterson, robert dyne, frank kerr, doug sobering, linda baxter, bun baxter who holds the record for serving 10 years on the cabinet. Bun’s two sons were leos and his father bud baxter is P.D.G. of district 37B Edmonton. Lions Bun Baxter and eyfi walterson served on the board of directors of the lions foundation of manitoba & north west ontario.
So-that’s our walk down memory lane this evening on the occasion of the beausejour lions club 50th anniversary. I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to all my fellow lions who helped me prepare this dissertation especially, Lion Phil Shuster, Lions Bun & Linda Baxter, Lion Steve Day, Lion Frank Kerr and Lion Doug Sobering.
Let me leave you with these words: We are no better than anyone else, nor are we worse – but – its great to be a lion!!
Submitted by Eyfi Walterson, Club Historian