History of Our Club
The Kiwanis Club of Charlottetown was officially chartered on November 18, 1947 at a meeting held at the Charlottetown Hotel. There were 36 members at that time and through the years the club has met at different locations including Queens Hotel, the Old Spain restaurant, Keppoch Beach Inn, Villa Waters, Charlottetown Tennis Club, the Islander Motor Lodge , Inn on The Hill, Delta Prince Edward. Kiwanis now meets twice a month 1 st and 3rd Monday beginning at 6:00 pm located at Kiwanis Bingo Country.
Abe Zakem is currently the longest serving member with the Kiwanis Club of Charlottetown. Abe has been a charter member serving Kiwanis and the community since 1947.
Although the Clubs service commitments cover a wide variety of causes, Kiwanis major emphasis has always been on children. This can be seen from the clubs records of 1947 growing financial and other kinds of assistance to underprivileged children, especially orphans and to family service organizations. One of the first recorded benevolent acts was a donation of $45.26 made to an entity referred to as the “ Free Dispensary Fund” to be used for children only. Regular financial assistance was also provided to the Protestant Orphanage and St. Vincent’s Orphanage for sending children to summer camp, sporting events, Christmas parties, providing books, treats etc. In succeeding years the club was more actively involved in children oriented projects such as sponsoring public speaking contests, arranging vocational guidance conferences in High Schools, establishing a music festival and raising funds for the Playground Commission of Charlottetown.
Other types of causes the club was involved in during the late 40’s and early 50’s reflected the values and needs of that era. Examples of this are helping to provide emergency relief for post-war Great Britain and assisting veterans here at home. An entry in the 1949 records reads “ Visited veterans wing and delivered 45 packets of cigarettes to veterans sick in bed.”
On local social issues, the club was involved in advocating changes to the Child Welfare Act, establishing the Workman’s Compensation Act. Assisting in, ” Get-out-and-vote” campaigns, and encouraging church attendance by sponsoring radio advertisements and arranging transportation for the elderly.
Money was scarce back then and there were many places where funds could be allocated. One interesting act of benevolence in the clubs records for 1949 is a ”donation of $100 to help pay salaries of rink supervisors”. Others, such as “ distributed apple pies to needy families” and a donation of “five gallons of ice cream to the Old Folks Home” seem quaint by today’s standards.
Funds were raised in a wide variety of ways in those first years, from holding tag days, to “white elephant” sales, to selling chocolate bars and Christmas cakes, to operating refreshment booths at the Provincial Exhibition. One of the more unusual fund raisers involved something called “Donkey Baseball?” Another was operating a “dunking machine” at Sandy’s Drive-In in Marchfield. Some of the more popular events in the early 1950’s involved sponsoring shows with such luminaries of the day as Gene Autry, Gracie Fields and Audrey Farnell.
One of the clubs early events was bringing the “Hollywood daredevils” to the Island in 1953. There were four shows put on at local race tracks: two in Charlottetown and Montague and one in St. Peters Bay. David MacCallum, one of the members today remembers attending one of the shows at St. Peter’s Bay. “There was great excitement about it at the time” he recalls. Part of the proceeds from these shows went towards the clubs first major project in 1952: construction of the wading pool at Victoria Park in Charlottetown at a cost of more than $6,000.00. The pool was officially opened in July, 1953 and was used extensively until the summer of 2001 when the pool will be replaced by a childrens splash pad. In 1955 the Kiwanis Dairy Bar was opened to help finance the wading pool. Victoria Park has been a focus of the Kiwanis attention in subsequent years with the opening of the Little League ball diamond in 1985 and the contribution of park benches in 1996 when the new boardwalk opened.
The list of charitable causes and projects the club took on over the years is too extensive to include here. Suffice to say they range from outright financial donations to hands on involvement in activities such as the annual telethons for the IWK, bowl- a- thon for Big Brothers\Big Sisters and the Teen Help Line, to playing an advocacy role in promoting social causes, to sponsorship of sports teams, children’s camps, bursaries to high schools and UPEI, assistance to Scouts, the Boys and Girls Club, the Red Cross for swimming lessons, the Air cadets and so on.
To meet its ever increasing needs of today the club expanded its fund-raising capability from the early days of peanut and chocolate bar sales to more reliable ventures. Main fundraisers are the Kiwanis Dairy Bar in Victoria Park and the Kiwanis Bingo Country on Riverside Drive (Charlottetown).