On the evening of June 3, 1964, the Stittsville and District Lions Club received their Charter from Lions International. The Ottawa West Lions Club had sponsored the Stittsville Club to receive the Charter and it was officially celebrated on October 19, 1964 with an extravagant party held at Westboro’s Ambassador Hall with several hundred in attendance.
To mark 55 years as a non-profit voluntary organization in Stittsville, the Lions Club is celebrating with their 55th Charter Night on October 26, 2019 at the Stittsville District Lions Hall. This will be a night for Stittsville residents to celebrate and thank the members for all of the volunteer work this one ‘Club’ has accomplished over the years.
(The Lions celebrated 50 years in our community with a historical display in 2014)
How did the Stittsville Lions Club come about you ask? Members of the West Ottawa Lions were in touch with Denny Graham, Roger Lessard, Ernie Moore and Bud Haw to communicate and share the importance of Lionism in the community. These four men were the messengers to convince Stittsville to bring a lions club to our community. They did this through a series of meetings for those interested in learning more and by highlighting the need existing here. The Charter Members in 1964 were: Jack R. Armstrong, John Black, J. Sid Bradley, Silas C. Bradley, Richard Comrie, Rev. R.S.V. Crossley, Harold Dick, Hari Dilawri, Denzil Graham, Bud Haw, Morley James, Corey Johnson, Roger Lessard, William G. MacDonnell, John Martin, Ted Martin, Elroy McCooeye, Perce McKinley, Wendell McRae, Ernie Moore, J.W. (Red) Murray, John Nicol, Howard Raycroft, William Spearman, Fred Smith, Ray Thomas and R. Trottier.
Throughout the years, the Stittsville Lions Club has been instrumental in the formation of many community facilities – their own building was built in 1979-80 with the knowledge that Stittsville was in need of doctors. The Lions would bring them to our community by ensuring that their new building was equipped to facilitate the need, hence the Stittsville Medical Centre was to be on the top floor of their new building and a permanent meeting hall on the lower level. The Centre drew the services of Dr. Jim Bell as Stittsville’s new doctor. For years the Lions chipped away at raising the money in thereabouts of $80,000 to build this facility without any aid from municipal, federal or provincial funds. To this day, medical services are still in place. The Lions Hall is in the basement of the building. The Lions hall is also rented out to local groups for meetings and special events.
Back in the late 60’s, the Club organized and brought our annual June Jamboree to Stittsville. Everyone looked forward to this fun-filled weekend of activity. From fastball games, go-cart races, lots of games at Alexander Grove to a chicken BBQ; this weekend was complete. The Lions also organized our annual Winter Carnival at the old outdoor rink behind the current library/food bank location on Main Street. With hockey, broomball, figure skating show, skating races and dances making up the weekend, there was something for everyone and prizes for all. Grampa Scott kept the old pot belly stove full of wood so the fire was always nice and hot in the skate change shack.
The Stittsville Lions Club has improved many of the sports venues over the years. In memory of Lion Denzil Graham, who also owned and operated the Stittsville bowling lanes, the Lions installed a scoreboard and new lights at the Alexander Grove ball diamond. The change and snack bar building at Alexander Grove was built by the Lions and named in memory of Lion Ronnie Martin. At the Johnny Leroux Community Centre, look up at the time clock and check out the artificial ice making area – the Lions donated both to the arena. For years, their main source of revenue enabling the Club to give back to the community, was operating the refreshment bar at Capital City Raceway. They have also taken many of our local sports teams under their wing providing funds through sponsorship.
The charitable work and fundraising of the Lions and Lionettes is unmatched with involvement in many local and international initiatives. Through Stittsville Lions’ 55 years it is astonishing that they have made donations to, fund raised for and supported the tornado victims of Dunrobin with the provision of food and needed sundries; the flood victims of Constance Bay by sandbagging and providing food to their community centres; Queensway Carleton Hospital; the cancer clinic at the Q-C Hospital; Carleton Place Hospital; Hospice Care Ottawa; Perley Rideau Veterans Hospital; St. Vincent de Paul Society of Hospice Ottawa; the Heart Institute; Relay for Life; the Cancer Society; Case for a Cure for Diabetes; sold daffodils for cancer; the White Cane campaign; the CNIB Dog Walk-a-Thon; the CNIB’s leader dog program; the annual Blind Anglers International Tournament (B.A.I.T.) enabling visually impaired and blind participants an annual weekend of fish angling on the Ottawa River; $1,000 scholarships to local students going on to post-secondary education; held public speaking contests; annual golf tournaments; e-waste recycling event; trivia nights; funding for participants to enjoy a week or more at Camp Banting for those with diabetes, Camp Joseph for blind children, Camp Dorset for those suffering from kidney disease; they continue to collect used eye glasses on behalf of the Kemptville Lions Club who sponsor the sending of eye care professionals and Lions members to South America to ensure that proper vision care is provided and the eye glasses are given to the patients; they maintain weekly euchre parties in Lions Hall; sell Christmas cookies and fruit cake. During the Christmas season, they annually hold a fundraiser with all donations going to one of their charitable causes.
The Lions Club members have installed the Christmas lights at Village Square Park since the mid-90’s. They also annually light up the entrance to Stittsville at Main Street and Hazeldean Road. Every year at the Parade of Lights, Lions Club members can be found walking the route collecting both food and cash donations for the Stittsville Food Bank.
This is just an encapsulated history of the events held, charities supported and community mindedness of the Stittsville Lions Club. Being part of the largest international service organization, with the motto ‘We Serve’, the Stittsville Lions Club has certainly left their mark and ‘served’ the community of Stittsville and beyond for which they should be proud. We look forward to the next 55 years of the Stittsville Lions Club and all that this volunteer-driven organization does for our town.
Stittsville residents are encouraged to come out to celebrate 55 years of this exceptional service organization on October 26th. Tickets are limited, so purchase your ticket today to guarantee you won’t miss out on a historical evening — https://stittsvillelions.com/events/55-years-of-community-service-dinner.
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