Long time secret divulged – 55 years of community service celebrated in Stittsville

(L to R: Don Meunier and Don Zogalo accepting the Harry A. Newman Award from the Canadian Diabetes Association. Photos: Stittsville Central)

In Stittsville when you mention the Lions Club, their community involvement immediately comes to mind. The Stittsville and District Lions Club, since their inception, have been influential in their participation or donations to many of our community events, upgrades to our sporting venues, and not to mention the Lions were instrumental in bringing our first medical centre to Stittsville.

(L to R: Jack Burke, MPP Goldie Gharmari and Ed Meunier accept a certificate of congratulations for the 55th Anniversary of the Stittsville Lions Club from the provincial government.)

On October 26th, we celebrated with the Lions another milestone reached – their 55th Charter Anniversary dinner. Lion Jack Burke served as MC for the evening. The activities and involvement from past years were highlighted such as the BAIT weekend for sight impaired fishermen; Canadian Institute for the Blind; the Diabetes Foundation; Canadian Cancer Society; Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind; Christmas lights for Village Square Park and entrance to Main Street; Stittsville Food Bank; the first local organization to contribute to Tysen’s ‘Mission to a Million’; donations to several world-class athletes from Stittsville; the many sports teams they sponsor; the provision of scholarships to local post-secondary students; Canada Day; and, of course, their donation of food and funding to our neighbours in Dunrobin after the damaging tornado hit the area. And these are only a handful of the generous endeavours the Lions have contributed to.

         (Photo left: Renée Devenny, Zone Captain and 2nd District Governor for District A4 congratulates the Lions on their 55 years of community participation. Photo right: June Warner, Lionette, gives the reply to the ladies at the dinner.)

Sharing the anniversary with the Stittsville Lions Club, many other fellow Lions club members took part in the celebration coming from Merrickville, Arnprior, Barrhaven, Cardinal, Renfrew, Morrisburg, Orleans and Clarence Creek.

The guest speakers for the evening were Jocelyn Bond, founder of the First Responder Family Resiliency Support Group (FRFRSG) and Kiera Danson, a participant in the group. Jocelyn outlined the background involved in the creation of the FRFRSG and the support that the group provides to first responder families. Jocelyn shared her own moving story and why she felt it important to have a support group in place. Kiera spoke of how the support group saved her family from the demise of a downward spin. Both ladies provided the strength and stamina needed at the time of each family’s turmoil. They are grateful for the support and extend their thanks, on behalf of the First Responder Family Resiliency Support Group and the Ottawa First Responders Foundation, for the generous donation of $1,000 received from the Stittsville Lions Club to aid responder families in need.

(L to R: Jack Burke, Jocelyn Bond, Kiera Danson and Ed Meunier presenting a cheque for $1,000 to the First Responder Family Resiliency Support Group and the Ottawa First Responders Foundation.)

We would be remiss if the major and most exciting contribution to Stittsville was not told. The planning and construction of the Stittsville Medical Centre, built in the years between 1979-80.

Lance Martin had a story to tell those at the dinner and it involved his Dad, Ted Martin. It all started when at the age of 26, Ted Martin was urged by Ray Thomas and Denzil Graham to join the Lions Club. Ted became and was a member for over 30 years – he ‘considered the group as family’. At the time of his joining, the Lion meetings were held in the Martin house – where the Club’s building is presently located – so Ted was well aware of the good work they performed.

Ted (Teddy as he was fondly called) and Walter Kavanagh, another Lion member since 1975, had an idea. The town needed doctors and what better way to attract them than to build a medical centre. The purchase of the land was negotiated with Ted’s Mom, Ivy Martin. The land sold for 25% of the property value and a $60,000 bank loan was obtained by the Club.

How was the Club going to pay back this loan and raise the necessary funds to build? Walter and Ted had the solution – fundraising. The first event was a draw for a Cadillac. Walter secured the loan for the car (unbeknownst to his wife Leona, only learning this bit of information at the dinner). Many events such as this took place and the loan was soon paid off and some building funds in place. Lance said that Walter “had the memory of a bear trap, was a doer, and came away with more than he gave”.

(Dick Verhoef, Walter Kavanagh and Ted Martin – the construction crew for the Lion Club’s new medical centre and home. Photo provided by Lance Martin)

Construction soon began on the medical centre with the hard and dedicated work of Walter, Teddy and Dick Verhoef taking it on.

Lance shared a well-kept secret with us. When the floor of the centre was being tac-welded by Walter and Teddy (in photo at left provided by Lance Martin), the thin metal prevented the sheets from bonding due to the welder heat. Walter (Scruffy as Teddy called him) had another idea. Use pennies. The melted copper would allow the welds to bond. And so they did. Should you visit the medical centre, remember that hidden under your footsteps are hundreds of welded pennies – certainly must increase the value of the building!

(Dick Verhoef cutting the lumber to start the framing for the Stittsville Lion Club’s new home. Photo provided by Lance Martin)

Upon completion of the build, the Club now had a home for its meetings and events. Lance shared that when the medical centre opened, his Grandmother, Ivy Martin exclaimed “glad to see the meetings moved!”. Soon thereafter, Dr. James Bell arrived as the first doctor to bring his practice to Stittsville. A memorable event for many Stittsville residents – Walter, Teddy and Dick especially.

And that brings us to the reason for this bit of history shared. The Lions Club have dedicated the Stittsville Medical Centre in the memory of Walter Kavanagh and Ted Martin.

Leona Kavanagh and her daughter Sue, along with Lance and his wife Karen were present to accept the honour. I, personally, cannot think of any two people more deserving of this dedication to honour their legacy.

(L to R: Don Zogalo, Lance and Karen Martin, Leona and Susan Kavanagh accepting the Memorial plaque and photographs that will be hung in the lobby of the Stittsville Medical Centre in honour of Ted Martin and Walter Kavanagh’s initiative to realize the construction of the first medical centre in Stittsville.) 

As with any organization, the Lions Club is always thankful to see new community members. If you are interested in becoming a Lion or Lionette, wish more information, their email address is  info@stittsvillelions.com.


2 thoughts on “Long time secret divulged – 55 years of community service celebrated in Stittsville”

  1. Dr Bell wasn’t the first doctor in Stittsville. Around the early sixties, there was a doctor whose name I believe was Dr Eigel. I’m not sure of the spelling – it was pronounced Eye-gel. He was our family’s doctor until we moved away. I think his practice may have been located close to Roger Griffiths’ house but that’s a foggy memory.

    1. You are quite right Dr. Bell was not the first doctor, but the Medical Centre was and Dr. Bell was the first doctor at the Centre. Dr. Igle was indeed the only doctor in Stittsville from about 1951 to the late 70’s. In fact, my parents bought Dr. Igle’s house in 1958 at the corner of Elm and Avenue Road (now Brae and Donegal) when Dr. Igle built his new home on Hobin Street at the corner of First Avenue (now Ember Glow). The original house was grey stucco and my parents had it clad in white steel siding with black shudders. We lived there until 1978 when my parents then built a new house – across the road no less. Your memory is not that foggy – Dr. Igle’s first house was located ‘down the street’ from Roger and Bea Griffiths. Another bit of history shared.

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