The Lions Club of Merrickville held a celebration in the Blockhouse Park on Saturday to recognize their 65th anniversary. The celebration began with the official opening of the Lions Club new bandstand by President Gerry Seguin. He dedicated the bandstand to the memory of all the past Lions who have played a role in making it the active service club it is today.
“I declare the bandstand officially open,” Gerry said, after which several local dignitaries who were on hand at the event cut the ribbon.
MP Michael Barrett, MPP Steve Clark, MPP Randy Hillier, Mayor Doug Struthers, Lions Club District Governor Beth Lewis, and Jacques Pelletier from the Rideau Community Health Services were all on hand to offer their congratulations and show their support for the Lions Club of Merrickville’s dedication to the community.
“In a province were so many communities struggle to keep service clubs, it’s great that we are here to celebrate the longevity of the Lions Club and also all its members,” MPP Clark said. “We very much notice and welcome the work that you do.”
Lions Club International was founded over 100 years ago by Chicago businessman Melvin Jones. He believed that business clubs of the day should expand their horizons from purely professional concerns, to include the betterment of their communities and the world. In June, 1917, he invited a number of local clubs to an organizational meeting, and so the “Association of Lions Clubs” was born.
Since then, Lions Clubs International has become the world’s largest service organization, with over 46,000 members and clubs in more than 180 countries.
The Lions Club of Merrickville branched off from the Smiths Falls Lions Club in 1954, with a group of 34 members. Since then, they have been a small, but exceptionally active club, providing strong support to the Merrickville community, as well as regional and global initiatives.
One of their largest local projects was the establishment of the Merrickville Lions Campground. In 1959, the Lions Club cleared the rubble from a stretch of land located beside the canal and, in 1984, they received permission from Parks Canada to build an office, storage building and washrooms. The campground operates to this day with 36 sites, 24 of which are serviced with water and hydro.
In 2006, the Lions Club facilitated the expansion of the Merrickville Public Library by purchasing the Canadian Recreational Canoe Association building located at the beach and donating it to the community as the Library’s new home. Past Lion Les Shryburt spearheaded the creation of a community garden located near the Merrickville Public School in 2017. The garden now has 20 plots, where residents can grow their own vegetables and flowers.
The most recent Lions Club of Merrickville project was the bandstand that is now located in the Blockhouse Park and served as the venue for the celebration on Saturday. Lion Rod Fournier brought forward the idea in 2017 and, after much discussion with Parks Canada, it was finally erected by a team of volunteers led by Lion Don Ramsay in May 2019.