To celebrate our Club's 95th Anniversary (1921 - 2016) our Gyrolog Editor - Fred Schulte - created this summary of our 95 years...
The formation of a GYRO Club in Edmonton was first talked about by Reg Henry and Harry Fuller in the early months of 1921. An organizational meeting was held at the Hudson's Bay building in April 1921. At this meeting, the plan and idea of a Gyro Club was fully discussed and the formation of the Gyro Club of Edmonton was decided upon. Twenty-three gentlemen were in attendance.
Chartering of the new club with 32 members took place on Friday, July 29th at the Hotel MacDonald. Vancouver Club President, Rowe Holland, was the Installing Officer. Reg Henry was installed as President, Bert Huff as Vice-President, Harry Fuller as Secretary and Stu Johnstone as Treasurer. The celebration was a gala affair complete with a gourmet meal and orchestra. Edmonton Mayor J.J. Duggan delivered the welcome address. Representatives from the local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs were present to wish the young Gyro organization long life and prosperity. A toast to these "sister" clubs was delivered by charter member Nelles Buchanan. The gavel, presented by Rowe Holland, was made of material from the old Hudson's Bay steamer 'Beaver'. the first ship to sail into Burrard Inlet of present day Vancouver and one of the first steamers on the Pacific Coast.
So who were these 32 men who attended the Charter Meeting of the Gyro Club of Edmonton on July 29th, 1921? They were young men under the age of 35 who represented many of the business professions operating in Edmonton.
James Bill, Printer; Roy Boyles, Shoe Store Manager; Nelles Buchanan, Barrister; Cecil Coleman; Harry Coles, Auto Distributor; T.W.Dalkin; John Dawe, Engraver; George Day; Fred Dewey, Photo Engraver-McDermid Studios Ltd.; Albert Emery, Women's Wear Manufacturer; Harry Fuller, Circulation Manager-Edmonton Journal; G.W. Hardy; Reg Henry; Bert Huff, Sand and Gravel Company Owner; Stu Johnstone, Chartered Accountant; James Kerr; Doug Leitch, Physician; Dick Lovette, Builder; Charles MacDonald, Life Insurance; Heath MacDonald; C.P. McGregor; R.D. McGregor; Bill Muir, Outdoor Advertising-Hook Signs Ltd.; Ron Olfson, Wholesale Footwear; John Oliver, Edmonton Bulletin; Joe Peacock, Wholesale Drugs; Rush Purdy; William Shaw, Clothing Manufacturing; R.S. Washburn; Wilkie Whitelaw; Reg Whyte; Emory Wood, Investments.
The annual Club membership fee was set at $7.50. The age limit for club members was set at 35 but on March 13, 1924 that was increased to 40. At this stage of development, the Club did not want two or more members from the same type of business. The intent apparently was to extend the membership of Gyro to every walk of life.
One of the first things to come before the club was the “Objective”. On August 9th, 1921 only 11 days after receiving their charter, it was decided to provide “Playgrounds for the Children”.
"Though they were established primarily as a friendship club, the members thought they would like to become involved in Edmonton's growth. The club capitalized on the popular notion that society should focus more on children. The motto of Gyro was "Power, Poise and Purpose" which were high ideals, but when translated by the Edmonton Club into "Playgrounds for the Children", it was a realistic one. The Great War had increased the awareness of Canadians about their health since many had to be rejected for military service for health reasons. Consequently, the community accepted this initiative with delight and gratitude." (based on report by D.F. Howell, PhD, 1974 "Gyro Club Activities in Edmonton, 1921-1949")
The first chairman of the Edmonton Gyro Club’s Playground Committee was Bert Huff, who owned the A. J. Huff Sand and Gravel Co. He supervised the purchase and placement of the equipment in Playground No. 1, on Patricia Square at 108A Avenue and 95 Street. On the 19th of August 1922, only thirteen months after club chartering, Bert led a Playground Parade to officially open Patricia Playground; Gyro Playground #1. "The Mayor, while accepting the Park for the City, lauded the Gyro Club for its forthright concern and encouraged others to do likewise, suggesting that "any organization that wanted to take up such a project could have the land for the asking as the city had lots to spare" (D.F. Howell, PhD, 1974)
Some years ago, the name of this park was changed to “Giovanni Caboto Park”, in deference to the large population of Italian descendants now living in this area.
On June 7, 1924, Playground No. 2 located on Kitchener Square at 114 Street and 103 Ave. was established. Two weeks later came the official opening of Playground No. 3 on Tipton Square on the corner of 109th Street and 81st Avenue. Maintenance and supervision alone cost the club $4000 annually. Patricia Park with improvements cost $3500 to construct and equip, Kitchener represented an expense of $2,077 and Tipton one of $2200. Wading pools were also built at the three parks at a cost of $1700, $1100 and $1110 respectively.
"By 1925, the Club and the City came to a formal agreement dividing responsibility concerning the parks." The City of Edmonton continued to provide the land, Gyro members did the rest: landscaping, providing the equipment, painting, etc. Full time supervisors were hired and a committee appointed to check the playgrounds periodically. "In 1928, this agreement was again formalized." (D.F. Howell, PhD, 1974)
Playground No. 4 for Crippled Children was built at the University Hospital in 1930.
To fund these lofty initiatives, the Club turned to the idea of operating an annual carnival in the streets of downtown Edmonton. The Club purchased some of their own “wheels of chance" and other carnival equipment and in the early 1930’s the first link of a long chain connecting Wes and Bryce Van Dusen to Gyro was forged. Wes and Bryce helped to set up the “wheels” and to train the Gyros in their operation. Later, when the Club moved the carnival from the streets to the Trocadero (a building located on 103rd Street south of the Hudson’s Bay), Bryce helped to organize the Gyro carnival. He and Wes assisted with the set-up and also rented “wheels” for the Gyros to operate. The monies raised went to the Gyro Playgrounds Development Fund.
The Edmonton Club continued to increase its membership. At the end of 1921, they had 46 members; 1921-22, 61; 1922-23, 64; 1923-24, 82 and by 1928-29 they reached 95 members. Membership dwindled in the 1930's but rebounded again in the 1940's.
In September 1923, the first edition of the Club bulletin, The Gyro Log, a name suggested by Alex Mitchell was prepared by Jack Oliver. A re-typing of the original text follows:
GYRO CLUB OF EDMONTON
Sept. 21st, 1923
The Gyro Log
Lamp the heading of this epistle. It is Alex. Mitchell's suggestion and will be used henceforth until someone comes along with a better one or until the writer forgets to put it in.
All roads lead to the Hudsonia at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday next. As there has not being a hundred per cent attendance at any Club meeting since we entertained the Cleveland Favorite-Knits and our own Commercial Grads, the executive thought that another complete meeting would be in order, so at the next gathering we will have as our honored guests, the Toronto Maple Leafs, challengers for the "World's Ladies Basketball Title", and the Commercial Grads, of whom we are all justly proud. That I am sure, will bring a full turnout. Incidentally, so that you may not be financially embarrassed at the door, the price of the lunch will be 75 cents.
It has been suggested that the Club give a dance for all those who assisted us in our recent, successful Carnival. This will be brought up at the next meeting, so come prepared for any course of action you want taken.
In last week's letter, a report was asked for from all those who had charge of booths at the Carnival. Up to Tuesday noon, Charlie Macdonald has received five. What's the use of me putting these things in the letter if you do not take any action? We might as well conserve the paper and ink supply.
There's a young fellow named Bill,
Of scrapping he's ne'er has his fill;
He simply loves talking,
Haranguing and balking,
O, Boy, but that lad can't sit still.
First notice for:
Lloyd W. Domm, Manager, Good year Tire Co'y.
Griff Morris, Prop. Morris School of Physical Culture.
James Lewis, Ass't M'g'r, Wilson Stationary Co. Ltd.
Charles Flavin, Assistant King's Printer.
September 8, 1925
Russell 'Barney' Stanley who joined the Edmonton Club in 1921 was a member of the Vancouver Millionaires and scored the winning goal for the 1915 Stanley Cup. He continued his hockey career playing for the Calgary Tigers, Regina Capitals, Edmonton Eskimos in the 1920's, was Manager of the Chicago Blackhawks in 1927-28 and finished his last season playing for the Minneapolis Miners in 1929. He was universally known as a crafty performer and dangerous scorer. Stanley was still active in the club in 1946 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962 and died at the age of 77 in 1971. Barney's son Don founded Stanley Engineering which is now known as Stantec.
The Edmonton Gyro Club was fortunate to have a number of long-standing members. Stanley Noel Smith holds the record for the longest membership to date, 1928-1996 (68 years).
The following "Why I joined GYRO" was written by this amazing gentleman in 1991.
In 1919 I had returned to civilian life after three years in the Canadian Army, two of them in action with the infantry on the western front in France. I had formed a Damon and Pythias friendship with a group of men, none of the survivors of that group lived in or near my home city of Edmonton. Family members had moved away. Discharged while still under 20 years of age, I sought friends among my school pals, who to me, having lived with mature men, seemed callow youth. I failed to strike a rapport with older business men, I was lonely.
A few years later, having established a small business, I was invited to service club luncheons. Emphasis placed on the fact that membership; in such would benefit me in business. That approach lacked appeal; I being young and idealistic, considered I could hew my own way to success.
Two business associates invited me to a Gyro luncheon. I noted the friendly mood amongst the members, with banter and kidding. During the introduction of new members, no mention of business affiliation was mentioned, name badges just carried the members name. The meeting was brief and the talk given by a founding member dwelt on the principles of GYRO-the promulgation of friendship amongst individuals, provinces, states and nations. I was impressed. After a second invitation my hosts informed me that they had presented my name as a prospective member and that I had been accepted.
I asked questions regarding what obligations I would have to shoulder, none of which seemed too arduous. They explained that each club had autonomy, being bound to the International by the bonds of friendship. I thought that surely amongst this seemingly happy crowd I could find a group of intimate friends which could replace the ones I had lost. I joined. My hopes of friendship for the past sixty-three years, has far surpassed my fondest expectations.
My introduction to Gyro in 1928 was by the Padre, Rev. Capt. K.C. Macleod. As he had also been my Padre during training in the army, he knew all my past history and brought laughter when relating some of my escapades. I soon found the camaraderie which I desired. The spirit of youth had been retained by the members, decorum existed when necessary, ebullience of fun and friendship dominated meetings. Members kidded one another unmercifully. Thin skinned ones soon learned to take buffets of wit and humour, in good fun as they were
One ribbing I have never lived down was delivered to me by the Padre. His absence noted, the President asked me to say the blessing. As I arose the Padre stepped into the room, stood still with his head bowed, until I had finished. I gave the Macbeth grace from Shakespeare: "Let good digestion wait on appetite, and health on both, Amen".
After lunch the Padre strode across the room, eyes ablaze. Grabbing my lapels, he admonished me with these words: "Smith! Never let me hear you say that grace again, its agnostic. There is no mention of the Deity. It was not given to the glory of the Lord, merely to the glory of a little superficial knowledge of Stanley Noel Smith." How true, I have never repeated that grace.
The forming of an active enthusiastic Gyrette adjunct turned the club into a family social group. To most member’s friendship between families became the norm. Sons of Gyros have formed another club, carrying on the tradition from generation to generation, hopefully on ad infinitum. Bereaved widows remained Gyrettes, membership in the group helping them to pass through the period of grief and sorrow.
As one ages, business acquaintances drop away, friendly neighbours move, contemporaries die. One may be able to enjoy all the amenities available in Gyro; a group of younger men, however, remain who are your friends willing to assist you when necessary. The twilight years may be enhanced by continued membership in this growing group of friends. The present drive to increase membership is commendable. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.
Stanley Smith was Manager of the Sample Shoe Store on Jasper Avenue for many years and served as President of the club in 1943-44. He wrote magnificent letters to his club and his friends, he contributed his ideas and his beliefs to the "letters to the editor" pages of our local newspaper and he shared his world view openly and joyfully. He passed away at the age of 97 on September 30, 1996.