In April 1925, Walden Thomson, a hardware merchant, spearheaded the establishment of a Kiwanis Club in Owen Sound, recognizing the need for a service-oriented organization in the community. Within two weeks, a group of prospective Kiwanians, along with their wives, gathered for an organizational meeting.
J. Walden Thomson was elected as the first president of the Owen Sound Kiwanis Club, marking the beginning of a long-lasting legacy.
The Boys’ Band and the Barrie Kiwanis Club, serving as the sponsoring club, participated in a parade to Knox United Church on Charter Night, which took place on July 15, 1925.
The charter members of the Owen Sound Kiwanis Club were passionate about community service and dedicated their efforts to improving the lives of individuals in Owen Sound and beyond.
The club embarked on a conservation project aimed at preventing sand drift across the road as cars approached Hepworth from the east. Through a collaboration with the county, the Kiwanis Club planted pines and poplars on the south side of the road, effectively reducing sand drift and improving road conditions.
Impressed with the success of the project, the club later purchased 70 acres of land on the north side of the road, where Scotch Pine trees were grown and sold as a fundraiser during the Christmas season.
On December 30, 1941, the Owen Sound Kiwanis Club received its Incorporation Status, solidifying its official recognition and legal standing within the community.
This status provided the club with additional opportunities to expand its reach and impact through various initiatives and projects.
The Santa Claus parade, a beloved annual tradition, was inaugurated in 1945 and has since been continuously sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Owen Sound.
The parade, filled with festive floats and cheerful participants, brings joy and excitement to the community during the holiday season.
In 1949, the Kiwanis radio auction was introduced, providing a platform for fundraising and community engagement.
Over time, the radio auction evolved into a TV Auction, offering a wider audience and greater participation from community members and businesses.
In 1972, the Kiwanis Club decided to develop a recreational campground on the 70 acres of land it owned in Hepworth, creating a space for families and individuals to enjoy the outdoors and foster community connections. Whispering Pines now boasts over 235 sites, with 185 of them devoted to seasonal campers, and includes amenities such as walking trails, playgrounds, a tuck shop, laundry facilities, showers, and heated saltwater pools.
A handicap scout cabin was built at Big Bay in 1972 by Kiwanians who had long supported both Clubs and Scouts. The cabin, dedicated to the memory of Sid Harpell, a lifelong Kiwanian and Scouter, served as a valuable resource for scouting activities and provided opportunities for personal growth and outdoor adventures.
A pledge of $25,000 was made toward the construction of a social center within a senior citizens’ apartment complex, which is now known as the Kiwanis Apartments. The social center became a hub for social activities and programs, enriching the lives of senior citizens in Owen Sound.
The Kiwanis Club of Owen Sound continued its commitment to community development and support by pledging $50,000 toward the construction of the Grey Bruce Regional Health Centre.
This contribution aimed to enhance healthcare services and improve the well-being of individuals in the region.
At the International Convention in New Orleans in 1994, Kiwanis launched its first worldwide service project: IDD (Iodine Deficiency Disorder). Collaborating with UNICEF, Kiwanis aimed to eliminate iodine deficiency, a condition affecting 1.5 billion people in 110 countries.
The goal was to raise $75 million USD by the year 2000. In line with this initiative, the Owen Sound Kiwanis Club raised $45,000 to support the cause.
The Owen Sound Kiwanis Club, in partnership with the district, embarked on a three-year initiative to raise close to one million dollars for inoculating mothers in Jamaica, Trinidad/Tobago, and Guyana to prevent HIV transmission to their babies.
This collaborative effort aimed to improve the health and well-being of mothers and children in these regions, making a significant impact on their lives.
Continuing their commitment to enhancing community spaces and experiences, the Owen Sound Kiwanis Club collaborated with the City of Owen Sound to contribute $150,000 toward the development of a new playground for children at Harrison Park.
This playground serves as a vibrant and engaging recreational area, fostering the physical and social development of children in Owen Sound.
In partnership with UNICEF, Kiwanis embarked on the Eliminate Campaign, a global initiative to fight Maternal Neonatal Tetanus (MNT).
The Owen Sound Kiwanis Club joined this campaign and pledged $45,000 to help save 22,500 babies by providing life-saving vaccinations and medical support. This collective effort aimed to eradicate MNT, a preventable disease that affects mothers and newborns in disadvantaged regions.
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