The Tillsonburg Shrine Club Development 1943 to 1972 Written by – W.J.M. Hart The following is an attempt to show the growth of our Shrine Club from its earliest days to the present. During the summer of 1943 the following local Shriners (whose names appear below, in alphabetical order) met at regular intervals, in the offices of the Tillsonburg Shoe Company, where Noble Walter Gibson was superintendent. The factory was located on the land now occupied by the I.G.A. Grocery and Parking Lot on the east side of Broadway Street. The following twelve local Shriners of that time were the nucleus of the neophyte Club which Noble Walter Gibson named Si-Cho., after Sick Children’s Hospital. This name has actually stuck with the Club, but now we are better known as the Tillsonburg Shrine Club. The original “disciples” of the Shrinedom here were as follows: Nobles Bill Addison, Colin Brown, Stan Carle, Roy Crandall, Jim Fergusson, Walter Gibson, Harry Grant, Tom Mansell, Harry Payne, Earl Stroud, S.S. Williamson and Alvin Wilton. Every one of these Nobles played his part in promoting and bringing into reality, the fine Club which we are al so proud to belong in 1972. The Club Charter was obtained by December 1943, and the first official meeting of the fledgling club was held in the Shoe Factory on December 6, 1943. Our by-laws were drawn up in 1944. There were fourteen statements in the original by-laws, one of which stated that the annual dues would be $1.00 per annum. No Change in annual dues occurred until January 25, 1954. At an Executive meeting it was moved by Noble Ivan Meharg and seconded by Noble Sterling Clark that our Club Annual Dues be mad $2.00. By the way, this motion has held for eighteen years, and $2.00 still buys an official dues card for one year. If you are a Shriner, one can hardly afford not to be a member of the Tillsonburg Club at that price – besides, you could associate with the finest group of dedicated Shriners to be found anywhere. It is significant to note that in 1949 the Club had 100% membership in the “Ladder of Baby Smiles”. Growth in membership seemed to be stimulated after 1948 when Illustrious Potentate N.S.B. Smith of London appointed C.S. Williams of Tillsonburg to The Divan. Indeed by December 1, 1954 our Club membership had increased from the dozen original members to close to 100 members. By 1956, the then Illustrious Potentate Stu Williams held the first Ceremonial in our town on June 1, 1956. There were 105 candidates initiated that day: and our Club donated $13,200. to Shriners Hospitals. Much of the fundraising for the event was directed by the late Noble Donald Gibson. Our Club has never been really alone in promoting the work for Crippled Children. Through the years we must acknowledge real support and co-operation from our nearby Shrine Clubs. (i.e.) Norfolk Shrine Club, Woodstock Shrine Club, Brantford Shrine Club, St. Thomas Shrine Club, Stratford Shrine Club, as well as Ingersoll Shriners. Like them, we are proud to have contributed to the welfare of the crippled child. Do you remember when? 1) Ladies Night at the Arlington Hotel, with Roast beef dinner cost $2.00. That was on May 22, 1946. 2) The prizes given away on Children’s Night, June 22, 1951 were two bicycles, a washing machine, an ironer, and a radio. 3) Club breakfasts were held on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. as on Sunday, October 27, 1957. We had 50 shriners at that one. 4) That 1958 was the year our late Noble Don G. Leatherdale called the “Summer Monsoons”, because it rained at every major event during his presidency, but enthusiasm was not dampened. 5) That our first car raffle occurred on October 4, 1960 – a Valiant won by Harry Armstrong. This was the start of our no famous “Pork Barbecues”. 6) That our town’s Centennial Mayor, Andy Blasz, donated our now famous firetruck to the Tillsonburg Shrine Club in 1961. 7) That this is the Centennial of Shrinedom, and that Tillsonburg (also 100 years old in 1972) is the residence of our Illustrious Potentate, Archie Anderson. This is a real honour for our Potentate, our town, and our Club. All Shriners look forward to 1972 with real confidence under the guidance of Mocha’s Illustrious Potentate Archie Anderson. The Centennial year is another milestone in Shrinedom. We must remember that 1972 represents as well, the Fiftienth Anniversary of Shriner’s Hospitals. Let us dedicate our efforts to a continuance of a much needed humanitarian effort on behalf of crippled and burned children, so they may have good lives in our wonderful world. We look forward to seeing Mocha Temple’s Shriners, and visitors from the United States, in Tillsonburg on Saturday, June 3, 1972, and again at the Sault Ste. Marie on June 17, 1972, and in London on October 21, 1972.

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