Paris Lions Club - 1940s

By Lion Diane McHutchion

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.