By Joan Cope
80 Years in Kingsville
Oblivious to the chilly weather, robins busily gather small twigs, dried grass bits, and remnants of string to build and strengthen their nests, clearly focused on their task. Kingsville Lions remain focused as well; enthusiastically investing time and energy on helping others, and particularly in helping build and strengthen our community.
Part of our focus in this year, our 80th , has been to expand our club and indeed, we are well underway with 16 new members. On April 2, a big welcome was given to newest members Willy and Donna Krahn.
In the Kingsville Reporter’s By-Gone Days section, I am often reminded how Lions have helped weave the tapestry that is Kingsville. It’s delightful to read snippets about the Lions Club in the 25, 50 and 75 “Years Ago” segments.
For example, in 1988 (“25 Years Ago”), Lions sponsored the 1st Kingsville Cub Pack, with Bob Swaddling as Baloo, Don Coghill as Akela, and David Hunter as Bagheera. Some 20 young boys were named in the article as members. This is an example of the Lions’ strong support of youth through the years. Barely a year after being chartered as a club in 1933, Kingsville Lions sponsored their first Boy Scout troop.
Did you know? In 1943, Lions kick-started a town campaign to raise funds to build a Scout Hall at Chestnut and King St. with the princely sum of $800.00. Several years later, in 1958 Lions would move the Scout Hall, used by both Girl Guides and Scouts, to Lions’ property on Mill St. The town offered $2000 to help transport the building. It was renamed, Art Allen Memorial Hall. Art had a keen interest in youth and was a charter member of the Kingsville Lions. As an aside, Art was mentioned in this week’s By-Gone Days page (“50 Years Ag”) as having donated milk and ice cream from his Kingsville Dairy to “parents and kiddies” on Channel 9’s Romper Room.
An addition was put on the Art Allen Hall in 1962. Lions held weekly bingos to help defray the cost. It was an important Lions Club priority to make the Hall available for community use. Several youth groups in town used the Hall at no charge, such as Girl Guides, Scouts, and the Kingsville Essex Band, as did many other groups, including the Friendly Club. This seniors’ group, formed in 1968 to play cards and hold social functions used the Lions Hall for over 40 years.
In 1946, Kingsville Lions bought the property on Mill St. and developed the Lions Playground for youth and families to enjoy. Lions installed public washrooms, baseball diamonds and floodlights for evening softball games while at the north end; they built a wading pool and storage building. Later there would be tennis courts.
Back to the By-Gone Days page referenced above. In 1962 (“50 Years Ago”), Lions members Ralph Watters and James Atkinson made a presentation to town council, advising that “should the proposed construction of a new municipal building at Wigle Park”, (at Division and Mill St., now the home of he OPP), “necessitate the removal of the band shell, that the Lions Club would very much like to have it moved to the Lions Playground.” Ralph would later become mayor of Kingsville. The Lions had assisted the town in originally developing Wigle Park some 24 years earlier at the request of then Mayor Fred Crawford. (also a Lion) Ahh…the history of it all….and much more.
TODAY: check out the banner of Lions posters on ‘Foodland’s front outside wall; take in one or more events happening during Lions Week, May 5-12, celebrating 80 years in Kingsville.