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Young Fellows Club to celebrate 100 years of serving Weyburn

The Young Fellows were established a century ago for the simple purpose of making Weyburn a better place to live in.

WEYBURN - The Young Fellows Club will be holding a huge party on Thursday, June 30, to mark their centennial with a major concert event in Jubilee Park.

Headlining the Centennial Celebration are Hunter Brothers, presented by E. Bourassa and Sons Ltd. and New Holland, with very special guest, Weyburn’s own Tenille Arts, presented by the Prairie Sky Co-operative Association Ltd.

The special lineup of Saskatchewan talent also includes opening entertainers Dan Cugnet and Brayden King, both of Weyburn.

As of Monday evening, the Young Fellows indicated there are limited quantities of tickets left and the event is close to being sold out. Tickets can be bought online up to 8 p.m. on Thursday, but they will not be available at the gate.

The gates will open at 4:30 p.m. with the entertainment to start at 6 p.m. There will be food vendors and beer gardens on the site.

Back 100 years ago, in the year 1922, the world was in a depression and the young men of Weyburn, as elsewhere, were feeling the loss of friends due to losses of the First World War. A group of young men decided to do something about it and after several coffee cup discussions, a call was sent out by Don Mitchell to the young men of the city to meet at city hall on May 18, 1922.

From this meeting was born “The Young Fellows Club of Weyburn” with the aims: “To promote the spirit of fraternalism among its members; To develop its members for better citizenship and to contribute in any way which it deemed advisable to public welfare.” The club members also chose the admirable motto, “We Serve”.

The club had 24 charter members, and the first executive included Don Mitchell as the president, J.S. Hamilton as the secretary and Bert Reimer as the treasurer.

The first regular meeting was held at the Car Café on May 25, 1922, and a weekly luncheon became the standard from the start.

They began that year by selling baseball booster tickets, assisting with a July 1st Sports Day, sponsored two dances, had a club shooting party, put on a fall carnival, sold hockey booster tickets, sponsored a child welfare station, and began to raise funds for Weyburn’s first war memorial. The cenotaph was first unveiled on Nov. 10, 1924, and was presented to the city by club president Rick Smith. The cenotaph moved twice more before it was located in the Memorial Park where it sits today.

According to the club’s history, “The Young Fellows were established a century ago for the simple purpose of making Weyburn a better place to live in. We have donated money and time to just about every major project that has happened in Weyburn over the last 100 years.”

There are too many projects to list, but highlights of their work includes the following.

The Young Fellows built the first outdoor pool in Saskatchewan in 1931, which many members personally had to support by guaranteeing loans to complete the project.

Work initially began in May of 1928, when the club made application for three city lots for the swimming pool location, and planning continued in April of 1930. In spite of difficult times with the Great Depression, the club first made a motion in March of 1931 for the construction of the new swimming pool, and it was passed on May 31 of that year.

Around the time the club was planning and raising money for the first swimming pool, an occasional speaker to the club was the Rev. Tommy Douglas, who provided humourous monologues or speeches to the club members. He applied to be a member of the Young Fellows, and the club’s history notes that on Dec. 15, 1931, his application was read.

One of his speeches of note was in 1939 in regard to the starting of the Second World War. The club’s records state, “Tommy Douglas on why and what we are at war with Germany, that was more enlightening than anything we have yet heard.”

Over the years, the club has donated money to every minor sports program that has been in Weyburn, money has been donated to the health care system, emergency rescue vehicles for the fire department, playground equipment, swimming lessons for every child in Weyburn, and were involved when the indoor pool was built as well as the second ice surface, the Tom Zandee Sports Arena.

During the Second World War, the Young Fellows purchased and donated a fully equipped ambulance to the Department of National Defence, and donated to the Red Cross, War Services Drive and entertained Royal Air Force personnel stationed here at North Weyburn.

The club’s numbers dwindled due to many members serving in the war, and a recess was called in 1943 and 1944 before the club began to revive in 1945 with the return of many members.

The start of a long-standing fundraiser was the Christmas tree lot in 1951, after the club was told the merchants in town would give up tree selling. The club sold 1,600 trees that year with a net profit of $462.

Another tradition began with the first radio auction on May 30, 1958, an annual fundraiser that became the TV auction in 1979, and then the Internet auction in 2008, which has continued to the present time. The net profit from that first auction was $1,070.

The spirit of giving was evident from the start, as in the club’s first 35 years, they contributed an average of $5 per day, which increased to $6 a day by its 50th year, and by 1982 that increased to over $11 per day, to $34 a day by their 75th anniversary, and as of the last tally, was at $65 a day.

In the 1960s, some of their pledges to the community included $50,000 to the new recreation building (which became the Leisure Centre), $25,000 towards Jubilee Park, and thousands of dollars towards numerous projects.

The Young Fellows Club was incorporated under the Societies Act in 1961-62, and in 1962-63 the first meeting of the season was held in the basement of the Legion Hall, beginning a tradition that is still held now.

“‘Fellowship’ is an important part of the Young Fellows Club of Weyburn, and was one of the reasons the Club was founded, to bring together young men within the city, and create an organization to serve the community, and have fun in the process.

“The foundation upon which this club has been built is based on the premise that we can make a difference—a difference in our community and the lives of those around us; that we, as a group, can help build a better society in which to live and grow. But also, and just as important, this Club has a historical obligation to work to create better men of its members; better citizens, better public speakers, better and more willing ‘Activists’, activists willing to take up causes and concerns within the community, not just for self interest, but for the betterment of all,” stated the club in its 60th anniversary history.

A past president and historian of the club, Mo Fladager, wrote this in 1957 for the 35th anniversary of the Young Fellows:

“Just mention YFC to any of the original old-time members, and watch the eyes light up and fond smile of remembrance flood his face and, no matter how busy he may be, you will find he will pause and talk Young Fellows with you at any time. Just try it some time and find out for yourself. It makes one feel good to belong to a club that is able to do that in this busy day and life. You too can have those happy memories in later years if you put your shoulder to the wheel and live the club’s motto – We Serve.”