1931 saw the Great Depression affect every walk of life in Canada from
large cities to small towns like Paris. In particular, small businesses and
farmers bore the brunt of economic hardships. Unemployment rose to almost 32%,
prices on most goods fell, low incomes were the norm, and our inadequate social
welfare system made life almost unbearable for most people.
A closer look at life in
1931 reveals that milk cost 26 cents per half gallon, steak cost 35 cents per
pound, and gas cost 10 cents per gallon. You could buy an average house for
$600.00 or rent a house for $26.00 per month. A stay at the Willett Hospital
cost $1.00 per day. There were no minimum wage laws. Life was indeed
challenging in 1931.
Despite all these challenges
and with the sponsorship of the Brantford Lions Club, a group of community
minded individuals formed the first Paris Lions Club. Our first Lion Club
consisted of 31 members, demonstrating a very strong commitment to service in
our town. The charter fee per person was $15.00. Those first members consisted
mostly of businessmen, but also included doctors, a dentist, a high school
principal, a lawyer, and a minister. The
first meetings were held at the Arlington Hotel. The date of the first
organizational meeting was March 16, 1931. Our first Lions Club President was
Col. A. H. Monteith with William G. Wood serving as Secretary and Daniel R,
Elwood serving as Treasurer.
One has to wonder what that
first meeting was like, what was discussed, and what challenges our Club experienced
in the midst of the Depression. The first project undertaken by the Club was
the creation of Lions Park. Paris just wouldn’t be Paris without Lions Park. If
only that first group of Lions could see what a long lasting their first
project would become and how many people have enjoyed Lions Park since 1931!
The spirit and dedication
of our first Club deserves our continued respect and gratitude!!