Truro & District Lions Club History
Lions Clubs International
Lions Clubs began as an idea of Melvin Jones, of Chicago, Illinois. It was his belief that successful businessman like himself could use their talents and energies to benefit their communities. In 1917, a network of 27 service clubs was established across the United States. In 1920, the association expanded into Canada when a Lions Club in Detroit, Michigan, sponsored the Windsor, Ontario Lions Club. (Learn more about Lions Clubs objectives, Code of Ethics, emblem, and beliefs.)
On the east coast, Lions Clubs expanded into New Brunswick from Maine in 1930. With eight clubs, Maine had gained District status in 1928. With 30 new clubs in New Brunswick, District 41 was split into Districts 41A, which included western Maine, and 41B, eastern Maine and New Brunswick. Expansion into New Brunswick continued until the Saint John Lions Club, chartered in 1941 became the mother of District 41C. Eventually, as Lions Clubs continued to expand into the Atlantic Provinces, a further split was required and in 1954 the A-B-C designation became L-I-O-N. In 1957, an S was added, designating a District in Newfoundland. Travel and growth dictated yet another split within District N in 1960. Today, District 41-N1 encompasses New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island; 41-N2 includes all of Nova Scotia.
While not recognized by Lions Clubs International, auxiliary groups formed under various names, such as Lionettes and Dandy Lions, began to spring up. Membership consisted of wives of Lions, who helped their Lions Clubs with various activities and undertook some fundraising projects on their own. In 1975 Lions Clubs International gave recognition to these women in a new program under the name of Lioness. In 1981, Lioness Clubs in District N-2 formed their own governing body, and continue to have a strong presence in the District.
Truro Lions Club Charter
On April 4, 1945, Halifax Lions Club, sponsored by Saint John Lions Club, of Saint John, New Brunswick, became the first Lions Club to be chartered in Nova Scotia. Before the year was out, Halifax Lions Club would in turn sponsor two additional clubs, the first in Dartmouth and the second in Middleton. Early in 1946, Halifax and Dartmouth Lions Clubs joined forces in sponsoring Bedford Lions Club. Less than a year after the Halifax Club was formed, Truro became home to the province’s fifth Lions Club.
SECRETARY → Stanley Edwards
TREASURER → Blake Gillis
Within nine months, there were twenty-two additional members, more than doubling membership by the end of the Club's Charter year. Among these were Bernard Sidler, C. Walter Bell, and Winston Thorpe.
Following William Bryson as President were George Ferguson, Lawrence Burgess, Bernard Sidler, C. Walter Bell, and Winston Thorpe. Membership continued to grow, as is evident from club records. Although it is unknown how many members were lost due to death, relocation, or other commitments, by the time Lorne Totten, who joined in May 1947, became President in 1952-53, an additional 54 names had appeared on the Club roster.
Truro Lions Club 1947-1948. Back row l. to r.: Earl Kirk; Russell Wallace; Ray Irving; Emery Goguen; Angus Hicks; Winston Thorpe; Albert Densley; Steven Halberda. Middle row, l. to r.: Arthur Weatherby; Edward Bent; Jack Barrett; Mose Sloane; Thomas Lann; Gerald Cain; Walter Bell. Front row, l. to r.: Lorne Totten; Elroy Spears; Lawrence Burgess, President; Carl Merlson, District Governor; Mac Johnson; Rev. D.S. Calkin.
Truro Lions Milestones
While growing its own Club, Truro Lions continued to spread the word, and on April 30, 1951, sponsored its third Lions Club, in New Glasgow. Three years later, on June 11, 1954, Truro Lions Club sponsored yet another Club, this one in Amherst.
For a number of years, Truro Lions met at a series of temporary locations. In 1971, a committee chaired by LeRoy Rhindress was formed to look into finding a permanent home. Assisting in the search, which resulted in the purchase of property at 1100 Prince Street, Truro, were Lions Gordon Smith and Merle Wallace, These three, along with Lions Richard Hoeg and Vince Redmond, were appointed to the first Board of Trustees to look after the property. After significant renovations, the official opening of the Truro Lions Community Centre was held on November 4, 1972. Unofficially known as the Lions Club Hall, the property, shown on our Home Page, continues to be meeting place and venue for club events, as well as a source of income through event rentals to individuals and other organizations. While periodic upgrades and repairs are the responsibility of elected Trustees, a resident caretaker on the second floor looks after daily maintenance of the property.
In 1979, Truro Lions Club sponsored the Truro Lioness Club, with a Charter membership of 16. Margie Rhindress, widow of former Club President and Past District Governor LeRoy Rhindress, served as the club’s first president and held District offices as Treasurer in 1984-1985 and Finance Committee Chairperson in 1985-1986. While assisting the Lions Club with projects such as TV Bingo and the Exhibition booth, the Lioness Club pursued its own projects, such as monthly bingo at a local home for special care. In 1992, unhappy with the decision of Lions Clubs International to withdraw support of Lioness Clubs as an independent organization, the Truro Lioness Club disbanded. The same year, former Lioness Peggy White became the first woman to join Truro Lions Club.
After a serious fire in a Lions Hall in Quebec in 1981, a liability claim against that club and Lions Clubs International led Truro Lions to investigate incorporation. Subsequently, on September 25, 1981, a Memorandum of Association was signed by Lions Blanchard Atkinson, Jim Gates, Harry Kuthe, and Charles McManus. For the first time, in addition to by-laws laid down by Lions Clubs International, Truro Lions had several that were unique to their own club.
The realization that, of its total membership, only a handful of Lions lived in the Town of Truro resulted in yet another change. In 2006, Truro Lions Club was renamed Truro & District Lions Club to better reflect its total membership.
Among our Past Presidents, Basil MacLeod was the first of Truro Lions to hold a second term (1994-95, 1997-98). Others who have followed his precedent include David Vidito (1990-91, 2000-01), Barbara Urquhart (2003-04, 2009-10), Jim Urquhart, with three terms (2001-02, 2005-06, 2010-11), and William (Bill) Ripley (2002-03, 2008-09), who assumed his third term as president in the 2012-13 year.
Barbara Urquhart, who joined in 1995, also has the distinction of being the first woman to hold the office of President, or King Lion.
Today, there are 29 Lions in Truro & District Lions Club with a total of 364 years of committed service to Lionism.
With approximately 1750 Lions in 70 clubs, District N-2 is divided into 12 Zones. Truro & District is one of eight Lions Clubs in Zone 4, the others being:
Sheet Harbour; and
Being part of a Zone and District allows Lions an opportunity to network with other Lions Clubs, share in joint projects, participate in recreational, educational, and social events, and compete for various honours. A record of these awards and trophies, as well as prestigious awards bestowed at Club level, is maintained by the District. Recorded awards to the Truro & District Club and its members include listings of those who have received life memberships or been named Melvin Jones or Judge Brian Stephenson Fellows.
District offices are elected or appointed from within club membership. In addition to other offices and chairs appointed from our Club, Truro & District has been honoured in having three members serve as N-2 District Governors.
The first, C. Walter Bell, joined Truro Lions during its Charter Year, was Club president for the 1950-1951 term, and was appointed District Governor for 1959-1960. Mr. Bell, the last District Governor to serve District 41-N, is remembered as one who promoted Lions at all times. Unfortunately, as business pressures increased and the time available to devote to Lionism decreased, he chose to resign his membership.
Next was Leroy Rhindress, who joined Truro Lions Club in 1972, was Club President in 1969-1970, and served as District Governor in 1971-1972. His devotion to Lionism is reflected in his achievements, the most notable his role in the search for a home for Truro Lions. Under his guidance, the current Lions Club Hall was purchased, renovated, and officially opened in November of 1972. Lion Leroy Rhindress fell in July 1974 from anaphylactic shock after being stung by an insect.
Truro & District's most recent appointment to this esteemed position, in 1991-1992, is Allan W. Beal, our current and long-term Treasurer. Joining in Aylesford in 1969, he left Lions briefly in 1971, resuming activity with Sheet Harbour Lions Club in 1975, and transferring to Truro in 1990. Allan has held many offices at both Club and District levels and received numerous awards, including the International President’s Leadership medal, the third highest award in Lionism. With his wife, Yolanda, who served as Lioness District President in 1987-1988, he was instrumental in developing Lioness Clubs in the District.
Current projects focus primarily on children and youth, needy families, the elderly, and the disabled. While contributions vary according to the nature of a project, there are several to which Truro & District Lions Club commits significant resources of time or money. One of these is Northwood Intouch Personal Alarm installations; another is the Colchester Food Bank. With annual purchase of dog guides, the Club accomplishes two goals – assistance to individuals with vision, hearing, or another disability, and financial support to the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guide Program. In addition, several donations in memory of fallen Lions have been made to the Guide Dog Program for the purchase of purebred puppies suitable for training.
While some community projects and organizations have been assisted through hands-on activity, many have benefited solely from financial support. Without the fundraising efforts of dedicated Lions, this would not have been possible. Over the years, local Lions have raised funds through:
door-to-door sales of light bulbs, peanuts, chocolate bars, calendars, holly, and beer mugs;
raffles, sweepstakes, and 50/50 ticket sales;
dances, auctions, magic and craft shows, and flea markets;
concession booths, beer gardens, bar and hall rentals;
Casino Nights and Television Bingo.
Of these, one of the most successful and best remembered is the booth at the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition, held each August in Bible Hill. Begun in 1959 at what was then known as the Colchester Exhibition, the booth was not only a great source of revenue, but also served to increase public awareness of Lions Clubs, and guaranteed active participation of every Lion during its week of operation each year. Eventually, competition and increasing costs of booth maintenance began to reduce profits, and in 2005, after 46 years of operation, the Lions Club booth at the Exhibition closed for the last time.
Today, the main source of revenue for Truro & District Lions Club is bingo. Each week from September through June, Sunday afternoons are reserved for 50/50 Bingo at the Lions Club Hall, while viewers have tuned in to Wednesday night TV Bingo since 1977. Radio Bingo, a collaborative effort of several Lions Clubs, has been played year-round on Tuesday evenings since 2007. Other significant fundraisers include an annual winter Casino Night, Pancake Breakfasts held three Saturdays in March, and Lions Club hall/bar rentals.
Perhaps the significance of the Lions emblem, facing both past and future, is never more evident than when our thoughts journey to Lions who are no longer with us. At each Lions meeting a moment of silence is observed in hope for world peace and respect for fallen Lions. We are proud of our heritage, and the examples of these men and women who served before us give us strength, courage, and confidence to face the future. A Memorial Page has been created in memory of those Lions. Names of fallen Lions are not available in our early records; we regret any omissions and welcome information that will help us to complete our tribute.
Since 1946, 452 members have been inducted into the Truro & District Lions Club. Each has contributed in his or her own way to the success of the organization and to the community it has served. Several have been celebrated in the annals of club or district history.
In 1978, as a memorial tribute to her late husband, PDG LeRoy Rhindress, Margie Rhindress donated a Public Relations Trophy to be awarded annually at District level.
Lion Douglas Holmes, who was inducted in March, 1961, and served as President in 1971-1972, was blind. Upon his death in 1978, the Truro Lions Club, as true “Knights of the Blind”, created the Doug Holmes Memorial Fund, its purpose to purchase tools or equipment for deserving blind persons in the area served by the club.
Lion Peter Maxwell, right, was inducted in May, 1969, served as President in 1984-1985, and was Cabinet Secretary Treasurer during District Governor Allan Beal’s term in office. Among District offices held by Lion Peter was Diabetes Chair in 1988-1989. Camp Lion Maxwell, for children suffering from type 1 diabetes, was named in memory of Lion Peter, who passed away in 1994.
Truro & District Lion Club’s history would not be complete without special mention of our Life Members, who have each devoted 25 years or more of outstanding service to Lionism:
- PDG Allan Beal, inducted October, 1975
- Lion Rex Moore, inducted January, 1971
- Lion Charles (Chuck) McManus, inducted October, 1975
- Lion William Ripley, inducted July, 1976
Please note that, while drawing heavily on previous club histories compiled in 1986, 1990, and 1996 by Lions Arthur Cox and PDG Allan Beal, a district history written in 1987 by Lion Clifford Edwards, and information found on the Hantsport & District Lions Club website, any errors are the sole responsibility of the Webmaster. Any corrections would be greatly appreciated.