The 1940s saw
Paris, along with every other city, town, and village in Canada, facing the
challenges of the Second World War. 1 in 10 Canadians enlisted in full time
service in the armed services. The population of Paris in 1941 was 4,637, so
approximately 450 citizens of our town enlisted and served overseas in all
branches of the Canadian Armed Forces. Sadly, 38 young Paris men did not return
to Paris and their families. Of note, 2 members of the Paris Lions Club who
enlisted and did return were presidents of our Club. They were F. C.
Braithwaite (1940-1941) and J. H, Knill (1947 –1948).
As enlisted Canadian men left to go
overseas, women and children stepped up to help the war effort at home. Women
worked in munitions factories, shipyards, and for manufacturing companies.
Teenagers also helped, working in factories, shops, or on farms. To that end,
the government lowered the legal driving age to 14!
The Paris Lions Club was contributing
to the health and well-being of the citizens of Paris right through the war
years. The list of these contributions included providing glasses and eye
surgery, dental surgery, tonsil operations, almost 32,000 pints of milk,
gallons of cod liver oil, sending boys and girls to camp, and sports expenditures.
Our Club focused on children during these years, knowing that a mother and/or
father were either overseas or working away from home.
Younger children were well educated in
ways to help the war effort and making life better at home. Right here in
Paris, a group of children called the Coney Island Club (ages 6 –15) held a
bazaar during the summer and raised an amazing $72.00!
This small group, after much
discussion, decided to donate this money to the Paris Lions Club after they
heard that our Club was giving much thought to the creating of a swimming pool
in Lions Park.
Records show that our Lions Club sent
out letters in 1948 to various groups and businesses seeking financial support
for the building of this swimming pool. This request stated that the sums
needed to build this swimming pool was $20,000 for 1948 and $10,000 in 1949.
To demonstrate that our Lions Club
also contributed to efforts beyond Paris, documents show that our Club
collected and donated money to the Food for Britain campaign, the Red Cross
Relief Fund, and Flood Assistance.
Our Lions Club motto “We Serve” was
well displayed during the Second World War. As much as men and women were
serving Canada overseas, the Paris Lions Club stepped up and took care of those
here at home. We should be very grateful and thankful for all our Club
accomplished during the 1940s.