In 1945, life in Pelham was significantly different than it is now, 65 years later. But one thing has remained true throughout those 65 years, the service of the Fonthill Lions Club.
The Fonthill Lions Club started with 24 members in 1945, receiving its charter on April 3, thanks to sponsorship from the Welland Lions Club.
An early project for the Fonthill Lions was their annual carnival and parade, an event that helped entertain many children and adults in the community for many years.
The club also undertook, as one of its first projects, work on the Fonthill Park, now known as Marlene Stewart Streit Park. Beginning in 1950, the Fonthill Lions purchased property adjacent to the park to create access to the park; improved the baseball field; installed lighting; built an outdoor rink; purchased and installed ice equipment; built a change house for skaters; and built a bandshell. In 1959, the Fonthill Lions began a campaign to build Fonthill’s first pool, donating $16, 000 in 1974 for construction of a pool.
The Lions have been strong supporters of sports and recreation in the community ever since, donating $17, 000 for the new arena in 1975 and constructing new baseball and soccer fields at their park located on Hurricane Road.
The Lions park, now the Gord L. Klager Park, named after Charter Member Gord Klager, was purchased in 1970 by the Lions Club. The 7.5 acres of vacant land was officially opened as a park in 1972. The park continues to serve the community today.
The Fonthill Lions originally met at the Old Fire Hall on Pelham Road, then moved to Davis Hall on Haist Street. In 1974 the club’s new hall was officially opened on the park land at Hurricane Road and Highway 20.
In their many years of service to the community, the Fonthill Lions have held many events and raised funds for a variety of causes. There have been golf tournaments, soap box derbies, bike-a-thons, walk-a-thons, paper drives, public speaking programs, boxing nights, Christmas parties, participation in Canada Day activities, raffles, lotteries, yard sales, and Agriculture Night, with continues today.
The Lions have supported many local causes, including the Welland Hospital Foundation, as well as Lions International projects such as Dog Guides and Lake Joseph Camp for the Blind.
The Fonthill Lions Club sponsored the Fenwick Lions Club when that club was chartered in 1949. In 1980 the two local clubs worked together to raise funds to purchase a Leader Dog.
The Fonthill Lions have the unique distinction of being “The Motto Makers” for Lions International. In 1954, Fonthill Lion Doug Stephenson’s motto of “We Serve” was chosen from 6,000 entries as Lions International’s motto.
Today, the Fonthill Lions Club continues to serve the community and is involved in many events held in Pelham and Fonthill each year.