In the Beginning
The Association of Kinsmen Clubs was founded by Hal Rogers on February 20th, 1920, in Hamilton, Ontario.
Kin Canada is the nation’s largest all-Canadian service club organization. Kin clubs across the country work to better their communities, enhance the well-being of Canadians and improve the environment. The Association boasts a proud 93-year history of men and women (and families) dedicated to fostering life-long friendships while ‘Serving the Community’s Greatest Need.’
The Kinsmen Club of Ladysmith received it’s charter on Friday, February 22nd, 1952. The Ladysmith Kinsmen became the 56th Kinsmen Club in B.C. at that time. Since that time the Ladysmith Kin have been a huge part of Ladysmith both in Community Commitment, Kin Fellowship and Giving With Their Hearts.
Amongst the contributions the Ladysmith Club have made was in June, 1960 the club purchased a new ambulance for the Town.
Starting in June 1959 and continuing into September 1960, the members of the Ladysmith Kinsmen undertook to build a Health Unit for the Town of Ladysmith. A two storey structure was constructed on Town property just below the United Church. The main floor was the health centre and the lower floor was the seniors’ lounge. The building still stands today and is the home of the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Ladysmith.
Also in the 60’s, the Kinsmen were the driving force behind the establishment of the playground on Root Street. This was followed by the construction of the Kinsmen Shelter at Transfer Beach, a facility that provides a focal point for community events as well as visitors at the amazing park at the beach. In 1992 the Kin upgraded the shelter as well as installing the sprinkler/irrigation system at the park.
In 1988, the Ladysmith Kinsmen built a new playground at Transfer Beach. The old rusty equipment that was there was unsafe and the Town was removing it, so the club stepped forward with a plan to build a $60,000 playground. Over the next year the club built their very own “made in Ladysmith” adventure playground at the beach.
In 1994, the Kinsmen, who had been involved behind the scenes with the Festival of Lights, approached that group about housing the Town’s decorations. The Festival decorations were being stored in various Town buildings as well as people’s basements! There was very little opportunity for them to be refurbished so the club made a proposal to construct a building that would not only house the ever expanding decoration collection but will give the FOL members a space to re-bulb and repair all the lights, garland and decorations as well as a place to meet regularly.
The initial 48’ by 90’ storage facility was finished in 1995 but three years later that was too small. The club added a new 24’ by 48’ so there was more room for decorations. The building is located beside the cemetery on Fourth Ave. This project was also a joint effort between many groups supporting the Kinsmen as well as the Town of Ladysmith donated the land to construct the building on. As well as doing the building for the Festival of Lights the Kinsmen also designed and built the structures that enable the big tree at the Aggie Field to be lit up every year for the Festival of Lights.
Other Projects and Initiatives
In between these projects the club also took building an adventure playground at Brown Drive Park (now called Kinsmen Park). With the experience—and amazing support from the Ladysmith community—we managed to build this playground in just eight months! This playground was built along the lines of the very successful playground that the club had built at Transfer Beach.
Well doing these “major” projects the club continued to do a lot of other projects that the members felt we of equal benefit to the community and surrounding area. Over the years the club has built over a dozen ramps for people with disabilities as well as contributed to hundreds of families with various means of support, hampers, and other items.
Over the past 20 years the Kinsmen have also contributed in over $60,000 in bursaries for local students as well as supporting dozens of youth sports teams and events. The Ladysmith Kinsmen are also the sponsors and organizers of both of the Town’s annual parades, Ladysmith Days as well as the hugely famous Festival of Lights’ Light Up parade.
We’ve had our ups and downs… and one of these was having to rebuild the adventure playground at Transfer Beach! In 1998 the original park was discovered to be rotting so… back to the community for support and true to Ladysmith Spirit… it was there. In only a year we had an even more amazing adventure playground at the beach in an even better location and a larger facility!
A New Century
In 2003, the club was looking for another major project and one of the ideas brought forward was a spray park at the beach. Having received quotes in excess of a quarter of a million dollars the members realized that we needed help. Members met with other service clubs and organizations in Ladysmith as well as the business community and Town. The feedback was great and the thumbs up was given. This project was soon looked at as the “Town’s Centennial Project” which made all involved feel very proud. It was not a smooth ride, there were some issues that arose, but with the support from the Town as well as various businesses and groups… it happened and it has been one of the club’s biggest moments.
In 2010, the Town had to declare the playground at Brown Drive/Kin Park unsafe, due to the onset of rot. Although upset, as the Kinsmen had built the park, the club was not going to let the families in the area go without a place to run, play and use their imagination. Again, back to the community, the club started various fundraising projects and what was thought to be a four year, three phase project turned out to happen in less than 3 years and to top it off, the new HUGE adventure playground was named the top Kinsmen Service Project amongst all clubs across Canada!
Another proud moment for our members and the community! The members of the club do acknowledge that this is not an award won by the club, though, … it was won by the community. The support was amazing and the army of volunteers from all over was a huge part of it!
In 2013, we saw another request for help. The new Ladysmith Museum was finding that people with disabilities could not access their new museum. They approached the Kinsmen and asked if they could help build a ramp. Again with the assistance of local businesses and some folks with expertise, over two weekends, the club built a brand new wheelchair disability ramp so that all folks could enjoy the hard work done by the Ladysmith Historical Society.
There are many other projects, big and small, that the club has undertaken that are not listed here. Due to space restraints they all can not be listed but to the members, they are all important! Over the years, the members and families of the Ladysmith Kinsmen club have contributed thousands of hours of their time to help make Ladysmith the great place it is. They have done this and continue to contribute because they can see how they can make a difference. As well as being a part of the community it’s the fellowship, friendship and growth that makes the club a success.
But none of what our club has done would have been possible without the huge support from ALL of the members (clubs, businesses, individuals, Town, churches, professionals, etc.) of our community.
For all that the Ladysmith Kinsmen want to say THANK YOU to all and we hope we can continue helping to make Ladysmith an amazing community!