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Hiawatha Chapter of Eastern Star in Kamsack ends after 98 years

About a half dozen Hiawatha members had decided to join the Yorkton chapter.

KAMSACK — After 98 years of being a fraternal organization that raised funds for and supported a variety of causes, the Hiawatha Chapter of the Eastern Star at Kamsack ended.

On Aug. 20, Cheri Cowan of Assiniboia, the Worthy Grand Matron, and Rick Gallaway of Prince Albert, the Worthy Grand Patron of the Grand Chapter of Saskatchewan visited Hiawatha Chapter No. 47 for the Chapter’s last official visit.

During the meeting, Hiawatha members Mary Welykholowa and Marjorie Orr were each recognized for over 30 years’ service as treasurer and secretary, respectively. Judy Stone and Stan Stone were the Chapter’s last Worthy Matron and Worthy Patron.

It was made known that those members wishing to continue their membership in the Eastern Star will be welcomed at Yorkton.

About a half dozen Hiawatha members had decided to join the Yorkton chapter, said Judy Stone. “Yorkton members have said they are happy to have us.”

Being members of the Yorkton Chapter sustains the fellowship members have come to enjoy, Stone said. Most of the Yorkton members are known to the Kamsack members.

The Yorkton Chapter, one of about 25 such chapters remaining in the province, meets at the Yorkton Masonic Lodge on the second Saturday of each month.

On May 7, 1924, William McCauley, Grand Patron of the Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star in Saskatchewan constituted and appointed Sister Elizabeth Bryan as Worthy Matron; Brother Thomas R. Abercrombie as Worthy Patron, and Sister Elizabeth Towers as Associate Matron of Hiawatha Chapter, said information provided by Judy Stone and Susan Bear, a member.

A complete chapter had required 18 members, and Hiawatha Chapter was the 47th Chapter to have formed in the province.

The Order of the Eastern Star was formed in 1867 and was the first such organization to include both men and women, the information said. The Eastern Star is not a religion; it is a social order whose members have a belief in a Supreme Being and members come from many ethnic back grounds and religions.

The members of the Order are dedicated women and men who sincerely reflect the spirit of fraternal love and the desire to work for the ‘good,’ the information said. Members, who are about 70 per cent female, once needed to have a connection to a Mason. The Hiawatha Chapter met at the Kamsack Masonic Hall on the third Wednesday of the month, and for the last four or five years, on the third Saturday.

During the Second World War, the ship class Corvettes were named after towns in Canada, the information said. One Corvette was named “Kamsack.” Corvettes were on convoy duty accompanying larger ships across the ocean for protection. During the war Hiawatha Chapter “adopted” the crew of the Corvette Kamsack and Hiawatha members knitted toques, scarves and mittens for the crew and bought and sent them sweets and cigarettes.

The chapter had asked the crew if they wanted anything and they replied: “a washing machine.” A tag day was held to raise money to pay for the machine. It was bought and sent, and soon the crew was the envy of other Corvette crews.

When the ship was taken out of service, the ship’s bell was sent to Hiawatha Chapter for safekeeping.

In 1981, Lil Gurry and Doris McEachern sent out 400 requests to celebrities for memorabilia to be auctioned to raise money to help handicapped persons and senior citizens and to purchase an industrial sewing machine for the Parkland Ability Centre, it said, adding that over the years many other fundraising endeavours were successful. They included: potluck suppers, bake sales, raffles, coffee parties and pie sales. Members knitted squares that were assembled into blankets and bags were made for cancer patients. Members knitted “Izzy” dolls, which were used as packing for medical supplies then handed out to children in war torn countries.

Star members raised money to purchase a laser machine for the Kamsack Hospital in the physio department and made donations to the Kamsack branch of the Parkland Regional Library, the Zone 4 Special Olympics when held in Kamsack, the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, and for exercise equipment for the Kamsack Developmental Centre at the former Assinibone School.

Among Stars’ benevolent donations were: a bursary to assist a theological students in their university studies; the Royal Canadian Legion, Camp Easter Seal, Ronald McDonald House, the fight against cancer, funding for service dogs, the Peace Gardens, Eaglestone Lodge, the Kamsack Handi-Bus and the annual sale of daffodils for the Canadian Cancer society.

Although Hiawatha Chapter had more than 30 members at its height, and several of its members went on to serve on the provincial executive, membership had decline over the past several years “until we are no longer able to continue operating a local chapter.”