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Kinsmen Club turns 100; local celebration planned

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The Kinsmen Club is celebrating 100 years in Canada this year and the local Kinsmen and Kinette Clubs are marking the event with a supper, plus a wine and mickey draw, Feb. 8.
Referring to the club charter, K-40 member Ken Dyck said the service club began in Dauphin in 1961. That club charter was recently returned to the group, he noted, as a local Lion’s Club member found it at a garage sale.
“A few years ago, we never, ever had this and somebody spotted it in a yard sale and recognized what it was and brought it to us,” Dyck added.
A K-40 member is an older club member, Dyck explained, who would prefer to remain with the service club, in a different capacity. The Kinette version is called a K-ette.
K-ette Iona Tarrant explained the Kinette Club began in Dauphin in 1963 and the first Kinsmen Club was started in Canada, Feb. 20, 1920 by Hal Rogers.
When he returned to Canada after serving in the First World War, she said, Rogers missed the companionship of the men he had served with in France and decided to join a service club. He tried to join the Rotary, Tarrant noted, but they had a policy where two members from the same business could not join.
“And I think it was in Hamilton, Ont., the following week on Saturday night, February 20, 1920, a dozen young men sat down to dinner at the Nan King Cafe and proceeded to organize the first club,” she added.
The Kinsmen Club was strictly designed as a Canadian fellowship club, Dyck said, adding the service work was a byproduct of the fellowship.
When Dyck joined in 1980, club membership was around 70 members and at one point, he said, Dauphin was the third largest club in Canada.
“A lot of the clubs when they reached 50 or 60 members split up into two clubs, because it just got a bit overwhelming. We never did, we stayed with that 60 to 70 number. And throughout the 80s, we were consistently around 60 to 75 members,” Dyck said, adding the group never had a clubroom.
“We met with various business establishments all over town. We just rented restaurants or whatever. In the Boulevard where Corinna’s is now, in that back room, we used to meet there, too. There was Thunders. When I joined in 1980, it was in the Towers Hotel in that restaurant. They closed the restaurant for us.”
“They did for us, too, and they gave us a room upstairs that we could go party in or whatever. At that time, we had 40 Kinettes as well,” Tarrant said, adding she joined Kinettes in 1970.
The Kinsman Club had stringent rules of order, Dyck said, based on Robert’s Rules of Order.
“And it a trained an awful lot of people to go further, go into city council or rural councils or various things, because you knew the rules of order, you knew how to run a meeting,” he said.
“So it taught a lot of young men, like myself at that time, to run meetings and run them properly and be very democratic about how you do your things. And you were held to task to it.”
“It was very much orientated to introduce young people to the community and get them involved. And it succeeded.”
Tarrant added many Kinsmen and Kinette club members have credited their participation in the club as a reason they are able to start their own businesses, as well.
The clubs were involved in a variety of projects in the community, Dyck said, noting Kinsmen Villa is one of the largest projects. Often the club supported other projects, he said, by donating to large ventures, such as the swimming pool or senior centre, but they also ran various events, such as Kin Carnival, harness racing and the Ag Fair parade.
“Believe it or not, they used to make $10,000 gathering at all of the exits into town. They dressed as Keystone Cops and they had a buddy with them and they had the long-handled net there. And so they stopped you on the way into town,” Tarrant said, noting club members would collect donations Saturday morning of the parade in the 1960s to the 1980s.
Dauphin hosted a lot of district conventions, she added, in 1970, 1976, 1978, 1981 and 1984.
“The first district convention was called Out of This World. It was fantastic. Mark and Marie Northrup were members and of course they’re both artists,” she recalled.
“Because the old curling rink was so big, we painted big, huge long papers for hours on end with rollers to make the whole thing like a silver world.”
Dauphin had a huge reputation for hosting great conventions, Dyck added, as the hospitality was much appreciated.
“Well, we always had great food and that’s the best thing you could do is feed the people,” Tarrant laughed.
Serving the community’s greatest needs is the Kinsmen Club motto.
“To me, it was a bit artificial, because very few people joined to do the service work, as far as I’m concerned,” Dyck said.
“People join for the fellowship and the community service work was a spin off, that was a bonus.”
Tarrant does not agree.
“To me, the community’s greatest needs are the important thing. I joined for that and along with it comes the fellowship and everything,” she said.
“But I like working in the community and doing things.”
Kinettes often supported Kinsmen with bigger projects, Tarrant noted, but also had their own projects, such as rummage sales and operating the food booth for Kinsmen harness racing, the Kin Carnival and Business Expo.
More recently, the group was responsible for the revitalization of playgrounds in the community, as well as the splash park in Vermillion Park.
Both agreed they have made lifelong friends across Canada, through the service club.
At one time, there were 1,100 Kinsmen and Kinette clubs in Canada, Tarrant noted, but there are many more things to keep young people from joining the service club.
Dyck does not agree, adding he feels computers are the problem.
“You could sit at home with your computer and Google all kinds of information. When we were young, the only information we had was going to the coffee shop or going to a Kinsmen meeting and that’s where I learned things about the community,” he said.
“I think it’s our electronic age that has changed things. People are more content just to sit at home in the evening and don’t need that social life. You’re happy just for downtime, but that’s an old guy’s perspective.”
Dyck believes the community has benefited by having a Kinsmen and a Kinette club.
“The service clubs were the backbone. If anybody in the community was doing a project, we were called,” he said, noting as president, the club received at least a dozen funding requests for funding each week.
“Kinettes and Kinsmen did Safe Grad for years. We’ve done it every year since it started in 1985,” Tarrant reminded Dyck.
Currently the Kinsmen Club is focussing on its annual Business Expo and recruitment, president James Blake said.
The Kinette Club currently has 10 members, Tarrant said, and is hosting the 100th anniversary wine and mickey night at Eighth Avenue Hall, Feb. 8.
Open to the public, the evening includes a supper at 5 p.m., some speeches, then the draws at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $35 each for the evening, plus a bottle of store-bought wine or spirits. Tickets to just the wine and mickey draw are $10 each, plus a bottle of store-bought wine or spirits. Attendees must be at least 18 years old.
Tickets to the licensed event are available by calling Becky McGregor at 204-647-2000, Nicole Gulenchin at 204-572-7533, or Laura Milcharek at 204-648-4113.
This is the sixth year the Kinette Club has hosted the event, Tarrant said, noting the 100th anniversary will be celebrated nationally at the annual convention. She hopes Dauphin will have a large group of K-40s, K-ettes and past members attending.

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REPORTER