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Membership in the Newmarket Lions Club is open to women and men 19 years of age and over, who are in good standing in their community...

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About Us

The Newmarket Lions Club received its charter as a member of The International Association of Lions Clubs (Lions International) in March 1931. To be able to understand the Newmarket Lions Club, you must first understand a little about Lions International, the relation between the Newmarket Lions Club, Lions International and the Canadian Lions Foundation.

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Serving Newmarket since 1931

To be able to understand the Newmarket Lions Club, you must first understand a little about Lions International, the relation between the Newmarket Lions Club, Lions International and the Canadian Lions Foundation.

Lions International "Triumph of an Idea"

The International Association of Lions Clubs began as the dream of Chicago insurance man Melvin Jones who wondered why local business clubs (he was an active member of one) could not expand their horizons from purely business concerns to the betterment of their communities and the world at large.

Jones’ idea struck a chord within his own group, The Business Circle of Chicago, and they authorized him to explore his concept with similar organizations from around the United States. His efforts resulted in an organizational meeting at a local hotel on June 7, 1917.

The 12 men who gathered there overcame a natural sense of loyalty to their parent clubs, voted the “Association of Lions Clubs” into existence, and issued a call for a national convention to be held in Dallas Texas in October of the same year.

That first convention also began to define what Lionism was to become. A constitution and bylaws were adopted. The colours of purple and gold were approved, and a start made on Lionism’s Objectives and Code of Ethics. One of the Objectives was startling for an era that prided itself on mercenary individualism, and has remained one of the main tenets of Lionism ever since. “No Club”’ it read, “will hold out the financial betterment of its members as its objective.”

Community leaders soon began to organize clubs throughout the United States, and the Association became an International Association with the formation of the Windsor Ontario Canada Lions Club in 1920. By 1927, membership stood at 60,000 members in 1,183 clubs. Today there are over 1.3 million Lion members in 206 countries and territories around the World!

The Name

The proper name of the association is, “The International Association of Lions Clubs.” Many Lions today prefer to use the shorter form: Lions Clubs International.

The Emblem

Through out the world, Lions are recognized by the emblem they wear on their lapels. It consists of a gold letter “L” on a circular purple field. Bordering this is a circular gold area with two lion profiles at either side facing away from the centre. The word ”Lions” appears at the top, and “International” at the bottom. Symbolically, the lions face both the past and future – proud of the past and confident of the future. Lions wear their emblem with pride.

The Motto

The motto of every Lion is simply “We Serve.” What better way to express the true mission of Lionism?

The Slogan

The slogan of the association is: “Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nations Safety” (L.I.O.N.S.)

Offical Colours

The royal colours of purple and gold were selected as the official colours when the association was organized in 1917. Purple stands for loyalty to friends and to one’s self, and for integrity of mind and heart. Gold symbolizes sincerity of purpose, liberality in judgment, purity in life and generosity in mind, heart and purpose toward humanity.

Relationship between the Newmarket Lions Club, Lions International and the Canadian Lions Foundation

Although the primary objectives of the Newmarket Lions Club are based on service to the Newmarket Community, we also realize the good we can do nationally and for the global community. Therefore, we serve at three levels, Internationally, Canadian and our local community.

International

Newmarket Lions support Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), which is the fund raising arm of Lions Clubs International.

The current major service commitment of Lions Club International is the prevention and reversal of blindness. This programme takes the name of Sightfirst, and includes the activities of every Club working to control blindness. Sightfirst is an international programme dedicated to controlling blindness worldwide. At the international convention held in Chicago in 1941, Helen Keeler challenged Lions to become the Knights of the blind. We took up that challenge and have contributed greatly to reducing blindness throughout the world.

Internationally Lions do much more than just Sightfirst. Whether it is Diabetes research, or helping the hearing impaired, or providing relief for victims of disasters like hurricanes, floods, or earthquakes, Lions International is there to help. Another very important international project and one the Newmarket Lions Club is very involved in locally is the Lions Quest programme.  The programme is designed to help teach children to develop the skills they need to cope with the pressures placed upon them by society. The programme has been adopted by school boards, including our local school board. Lions Clubs finance the resource material and conduct training sessions for teachers, who in turn teach the programme to children in primary grades.

Lions Foundation of Canada

Through the Lions Foundation of Canada, Lions Clubs have been responsible for building camps for the blind at Lake St Joseph, and the dialysis camp at Minden for children suffering from Kidney disease and have difficulty having holidays because of the constant need for dialysis. Another camp built by Lions is Camp Kirk. The camp was built to provide children with learning disabilities or attention deficit hyperactivity a place where they are provided a safe physical , social and emotional recreational environment. Probable the most recognizable project of the foundation is Canine Vision Canada School which provides free of charge , a seeing eye dog and training for the blind, and hearing dogs for the deaf. The school also provides companion dogs for many other people suffering from numerous other diseases such as Parkinson disease.

The 1930's

The Newmarket Lions Club received its charter from The Association of Lions Clubs in March 1931. The sponsoring Lions Club was the North Toronto Club which was the largest of the four Toronto clubs. There were 36 members inducted as charter members. In reporting the occasion the Newmarket Era referred to the Newmarket Lions Club as Newmarket’s first service club. Although there was already a Rotary Club and a Kinsman Club in town, they were considered in 1931 to be business clubs. The paper described the new Lions members as “prominent business men and interested citizens.”

The newspaper reported the main activity of the Club was to assist the school children and cooperate with any organization for that purpose. One such activity was the examination of every school child in Newmarket by a children’s specialist. The health of each child was recorded on index cards, and sent home to their parents. The parents were encouraged to take action to correct problems which identified before they became chronic. If the families required financial help the Lions Club assisted them. There are reports of eight children being taken to the Hospital for Sick Children for eye examination by members of the Club and payment for their glasses. The minutes of the Newmarket Lions Club Board meetings during the 1930’s show an amazing similarity to the work we continue to do today. Payments to drug stores on behalf of families, eye doctors, York County hospital, grocery stores and milk for school children. Remember when children could buy milk at school? Although government has created social safety nets which pay for many of these expenses, The Newmarket Lions Club continues to pay for glasses for persons not covered by a health plan, and of course the traditional Newmarket Lions Club Christmas food programme known as the Santa Fund. The first record of the Club delivering food baskets was in 1933. Baskets were filled in the basement of member Frank Bowser’s grocery store on Mail St., and delivered to the homes of those in need by Lions members.

The Newmarket Lions Club was responsible for the creation of new Lions Clubs in the area during the 1930’s, Barrie Lions in 1931, Bradford, Port Perry, and in 1938 Richmond Hill.

Although there are few records concerning fund raising in the early days, there are references to money raised from dances and live shows being performed. Considering there was no television and very little radio in those days, live entertainment would have been very popular.  Another popular and very successful was the Carnival. The first reference to the Carnival was in a 1938 financial report by the Carnival Committee showing a profit that year of $1,400.00!  It was a two day affair, starting on Friday afternoon and ending Saturday night with a dance.

During the 1937 – 38 Lions year the Club developed the Newmarket Lions Club Park located between Lorne Ave and Church St., north of Eagle St. The Park got its beginning when Lion member Bill Bosworth donated a portion of land that he owned at the south end of his residence on Timothy St. With the cooperation of three of Newmarket’s major industries, Dixon Pencil, Davis Tannery and Office Specialty the rest of the land was purchased. The work to clear the land and prepare it to be used as a park was done mainly by members of the Club. The spruce and pine trees along the north boarder of the park were planted in 1938 by the Club.

The 1940's

The minutes of the Board of Director meetings are filled with references to donations and fund raising events for the support of the war effort. There are specific donations to the Newmarket England Spitfire Club, the Lions British Children War victims Fund and the Red Cross Society.

In 1941 the first mention is made of donations to the Ontario Society for Crippled Children, later renamed to the Easter Seal Society. The Newmarket Lions Club was the Easter Seal Club for the Newmarket area. This required the Club to fund raise for paying expenses of Easter Seal kids who lived in the area. The relationship continued until the 1990’s.

In 1940 the Club purchased a piano for $25.00 and donated it to the local Military Training Camp. This was a far cry from what it cost the Club to donate a grand piano to the brand new Newmarket Theatre.

Even though the Club was raising and donating a great deal of money to the war effort, they still continued to carry on with their other community giving. By early 1941 York County Hospital was sending bills for payment directly to the Lions Club.

The 1950's

The Lion’s work in the community continued. Payments to local dairies on a monthly basis for families, payments to doctors and dentists, drug stores, and clothing stores, signify the important work being done in the community. One example of the giving residents of Newmarket in the 1950’s (and today!) is a story related at a meeting by Lion Ang West.  He reported he had been standing on the sidewalk talking to Lions Wes. Brooks about a woman who had to have her eye removed and was in need of a glass eye. A stranger who had been standing near by over heard the conversation  and asked about the cost of the glass eye. Lion Ang told him the cost was approximately twenty-five dollars. The man took out his cheque book and wrote a cheque for the full amount.  The man was identified as Mr. S. Bisgould of the Shady Acres Development Ltd.

During the 1950’s the Club solidified their relationship with what was then known as the Society for Crippled Children. The Club began fundraising for the purchase of special braces and shoes for the crippled children in Newmarket and beyond. The Newmarket Lions Club continued that relationship until 1997.

In 1956 the Club fundraising carnival which had been running since the 1930’s was cancelled and replaced by three car draws per year. Tickets sold for $10.00!

In 1955 the Lions Club donated $2,000.00 to the York County Hospital Building (Southlake Regional Health Centre).

The Lions Club Park was becoming a popular place for children to play. The club had installed swings and slides for the children and they also began paying for the supervision of the children during a seven week summer period. In 1956 the Peter Gorham Swimming Pool was built on the grounds of the Lion’s park. The Club made a $1,000.00 donation to the construction of the pool.

In 1958 the Lions Club was approached by what was then called the Newmarket and District Retarded Children’s Association to build a school. The school was to be built on land the association owned and was to cost $12,000.00. It was to be known as the Newmarket Lions Fairmead School. Costs had escalated to $29,127.00 because of modifications required by Government. Later, in 1965 the Lions Club again assisted the Association by providing funds of $3,000.00 as a down payment on the purchase of land for a future adult work shop.

In 1958 the Town of Newmarket asked the Club to provide Lion Members to work with a committee of teenagers who were running “Teen Town” dances every Saturday night. The Club also provided chaperones for the dances.

The 1960's

The President of the Newmarket Lions Club in 1960 was Mr. Eugene McCaffrey, the son of the first President of the Club in 1931 when the Club was chartered. Everyone who knew Eugene knew his love of music, so it was no surprise when he announced his goal for the Club during his Presidency was to start a music festival in Newmarket. So began the Newmarket Lions Club Music Festival which continues today and is ranked as one of the top three Festivals in Ontario. In 2010 the Music Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary. The annual festival provides quality adjudication to young artists performing in piano, strings, instrumental and vocal. Each year the Lions Club provides scholarships to many of the artists to assist them with their music lessons.

In 1961 the Newmarket Lions Club received a request from the Newmarket Citizen’s Band to erect a Band Shelter in the park. The Band had been performing Sunday evening concerts in the park, so of course permission was granted. This was to be an important event in the history of the Newmarket Lions Club. Since its beginning in 1931 the Club never had a permanent meeting place. Regular meetings were held in the King George Hotel during the 1930’s and 40’s, St. Paul’s church during the 1950’s and 60’s and the Compass Restaurant during the late 1960’s. In 1967 the band shelter built in 1961 was enclosed and a mall addition was built as a centennial project. The first true home of the Newmarket Lions Club was known as the Newmarket Lions Club Amphitheatre.

During the 1960’s the Club continued to do its community work. Each month bills were paid to local dairies, doctors, dentists clothing stores, drug stores and optometrists.  In 1962 York County Hospital was again expanding. The Club donated $12,500.00 for a new pediatrics ward.

The 1960’s also saw increased spending on minor sports such as hockey, baseball and swim teams.  Fund raising was through car draws, white elephant sales, manure sales, silent auctions and the sale of Christmas Trees.

The 1970's

Unfortunately many of the records of the Newmarket Lions Club during the 1970’s are missing; however the decade can be summed up as the swimming pool era. In 1971 the Club donated two wadding pools to the Town of Newmarket. They were built in two local parks.  The cost was $10,000.00. Later, in 1976 the Club donated $10,000.00 toward the building of the Whipper Billy Watson Therapeutic Pool which was built during yet another expansion of York County Hospital.

Community service continued to increase in Newmarket. As the town continued to grow so did the number of families requiring assistance. Whether it was supplies for the increasing number of children designated by the Society for Crippled Children, or eye glasses, or the need to pay for swimming passes at the Peter Gorham Swimming Pool, the Newmarket Lions Club continued to provide the support.

Another important event of the 1970’s was the formation of a second Lions Club in Newmarket. The new club was to be known as the North Newmarket Lions Club. With a second Club the Town of Newmarket has benefited; two Clubs, twice the service to the Town.

A second addition to the Lions Amphitheatre was built in 1974. And who can forget the wonderful elimination draws and dance held at the Newmarket arena. The grand prize was a brand new Cadillac. Over the years car draws and the Newmarket Lions Club have gone hand in hand.

The 1980's

During the 1980’s the Club continued to support the community in many different ways. Wheel chairs, special eye glasses, and many other specialty items were purchased for people suffering from various ailments and disabilities. The early 1980’s saw the first purchase of a special computer for a young man who suffered from a learning disability. The new technology was opening doors for those who had trouble learning.

This decade also saw advancement in electronic communications. One device that now made it possible for the hearing impaired to communicate with emergency services through York Regional Police was a T.T.Y. machine. It allowed the caller to dial the police number and then type their message. At the other end, in the police communication room, a police communicator would answer the telephone, read the message, and then type a message back to the person calling. The Newmarket Lions donated one of these machines to York Police communications. That was not the only donation made to York Police. Several Drug Identification Kits were donated for use by officers going into schools to educate children.  Another very significant donation to York Police was the donation of the first four dogs to be used in a new Canine Unit. Due to difficult financial times, the Police Service Board was unable to support the request of the Chief of police for a Canine Unit. However, when the dogs were donated the Board found sufficient funds to run the Canine Unit.

Other large donations made during the 1980’s were: $50,000.00 to the Society of Crippled Children, and $15,000.00 toward a new CAT scan machine for York County Hospital. (South Lake Regional Health Centre).

And where did the money come from for these donations? Along with the many regular fund raising events, the Newmarket Lions Club entered into a new fund raiser; Bingo! This immensely popular game came to Newmarket when the Province issued a Bingo Hall license to a business man. However, he needed a charity to obtain a license to play bingo from the Town of Newmarket. The Club was the first charity to join in to this very lucrative fund raiser.

The 1990's

The first thing to come to mind about the 1990’s was the frustration by the Club, as well as other like charities, to raise money. The reason is the Ontario Lottery Corporation. With the opening of casinos and gambling at horse race tracks, and along with the huge hospital lotteries the smaller charities like the Newmarket Lions Club could no longer sell a one hundred dollar ticket on a car draw, or anything else. When people compared the huge prize boards of the hospital lotteries, there was very little choice on where they wanted to spend their one hundred dollars.

But despite the difficulty of money raising the Club continued to increase its commitment to the community as well has continue the programs such as the Santa Claus Fund and the Music Festival. One community activity I have not mentioned was our support for the elderly who were living in Greenacres Nursing Home. I don’t know when the activity started, but I know it was in existence in 1972 when I joined the Club. We would go on a monthly basis in the evening and play bingo with the residents. The Club members would hand out cigarettes, chocolate and cookies.  We would even serve beer to those who were able to have it.

In the year 1989 – 1990 the Newmarket Lions Club added another addition to the Lions Hall.  The addition amounted to a large banquet room and kitchen as well as a small meeting room. The Lions banquet room became a favorite location for wedding dinners, Christmas parties and anniversary parties.

Another highlight of the 1990’s was the opening of the Newmarket Theatre. It was only natural that the Lions Club should be involved in some way with the Theatre that was to become an important venue for the Lions Music Festival. When the Theatre committee mentioned the need for a grand piano, the Lions Club immediately made the commitment to donate the Grand Piano.