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Reflections of Ponoka: Ponoka Kinsmen…73 years of community service

Updated: Mar 9, 2019

The Ponoka Kinsmen Club has enjoyed a very colorful and active history of community service since receiving its charter on December 12, 1941. With the ongoing support and enthusiasm of the K-40 and Kinette Clubs, as well as generations of members, their passionate dedication and outstanding projects for all ages has continued for 73 amazing years and resulted in so many benefits for all facets of our town and surrounding districts.

The 9th Kinsmen Club in District 4

With the sponsorship of the Red Deer Club, the Ponoka Kinsmen Club received its charter on December 12, 1941 and became the ninth Kinsmen Club in district four of Alberta. Shortly after the charter, several of the members joined the armed forces, and as with many of the active Kinsmen Clubs, Ponoka experienced quite a time keeping the groups together during the war years.

Interclub visits as well as friendly competition in broomball and hockey not only helped to keep the keen Kin spirit alive, but also won the local club the Dinosaur Trophy in 1942 and 1943. All of the Kinsmen members also pitched in to help Hal Rogers and his Milk for Britain Fund by staging community livestock sales. After the war’s end in 1945, the efforts of the club turned from the successful war year’s campaign to raising money for a new arena in Ponoka. Cash from exciting family activities such as apple days, baseball games, dances, bingos, summer stampede carnivals and tractors raffles raised approximately $35,000, as well as thousands of volunteer hours contributed by the club members. During the same time, the Kinsmen also continued their sponsorship of the local Cubs and Scouts as well as promoting the building of a new Scout Hall in the community. Other successful projects included sending a Blue baby to Montreal for heart surgery, donating $1500 towards the construction of the Ponoka Branch of the Canadian Legion, and donating 3000 magazines for the use of the patients at the Provincial Mental Hospital.

Meanwhile, the Ponoka club continued to dominate the zone in sporting events on the way to capturing another Dinosaur Trophy in both 1947 and 1949 and have always managed to give all sorts of opposition a pretty good game of whatever they played. Going into the roaring 50s, the club raised their capital by hosting events such as pools, raffles, dance clubs, dog trials, carnivals, and ball point pen sales as well as sponsoring a county fair for the farmers in the Ponoka district that featured ploughing matches, a tractor rodeo, farm exhibits, and on and on. Along the way, on the agenda of spirited community support by the Kinsmen was some sponsorship and management of Ponoka minor hockey, building a playground in Lucas Heights, supporting vital blood donor clinics, donating equipment and funds to hospitals and vital causes, driving senior citizens to the election polls, and erecting the first annual Christmas tree gala in the downtown area.

In June of 1956, the Ponoka Kinsmen Club started the construction of another major community project, the first outdoor swimming pool, which was opened to the joy of thousands in August of 1957. For this venture, they had spent a total of $38,000, then built a family park around the pool, paid off their debt by 1959, and won the coveted Tom Shandro Award for their efforts. It was during the 1960s that former Kinsmen President and District Governor Mickey Carter was named the first Life Member of the Ponoka Kinsmen Club, and there would be many more to follow in his footsteps and serve at both the local and provincial executive levels over the years. In 1963, a start was made on the Kinsmen Community and Recreation Centre, a project that would cost close to $100,000, to which the Kinsmen would raise $33,000, and contribute close to 2500 volunteer hours from club members/K-40, and Kinettes. For this magnificent effort, they would eventually be awarded the Tom Shandro trophy for the best Kinsmen project in Alberta as well as the Hal Roger Service Shield for the best Kinsmen project in Canada. In 1970, Kinsmen Clubs across Canada celebrated the golden anniversary of the association, and Ponoka responded with a gala week of festivities in appreciation for the amazing support they have received from the people of Ponoka and districts.

In the first 30 years, the Ponoka Kinsmen Club would proudly raise over a quarter of a million dollars for countless community projects. Their next major project began in 1972 when they began raising funds and contributing their hearty volunteer efforts towards a proposed new swimming pool, as well as also announcing that they would contribute $200,000 for a new multi-purpose recreation complex. The magnificent new Ponoka Aquaplex indoor swimming pool was opened on June 28, 1976, the club paid their debt off in full by 1978 and following completion of the new ice complex, they continued to contribute to its operation in many ways over the years, as well as icing a pretty feisty hockey team.

Throughout their decades of keen and ongoing community projects that have and will always benefit so many people of all ages, the Ponoka Kinsmen have always enjoyed lots of fun and participation along the way, with no challenge too big or too small. This may have included a spirited team effort of shovelling grain, painting, decorating, pouring cement, playing donkey baseball, attending conventions, flipping burgers or pancakes, singing in the annual Carol festival, knocking on lots of doors, and on and on until the project goal was finally reached.

The grand tradition and camaraderie of the Ponoka Kinsmen Club is still going strong in and around our community, and in the colorful 2014 edition of their annual Kinsmen Phone Book, the Ponoka club vows to continue to fulfill their ongoing pledge of ‘Serving the Communities Greatest Needs.’ With the completion of the toboggan hill this year, their fundraising attentions will now focus on the next exciting project of a state of the art BMX track. Current active members of the Ponoka Kinsmen Club include Murray McLaughlin, Greg Braat, Mitch Calkins, Darren York, Tom Hamilton, President Ken Groot, Darrell Johnson, Roy Scabar, Norm Kolibaba, and Andrew Middleton.

New members are always welcome and those interested in joining or getting more information on the club are welcome to get in touch with those members whose names are listed in red in the new Kinsmen phone book. Congratulations to the club, their affiliates, and their families for your successes and dedication in the past, as well best wishes and inspiration for your projects in our future.

Story by the Ponoka News

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