Co-organizer of a huge Canada Day 150 celebration in Centennial Park this weekend, District of 100 Mile House Councillor Bill Hadden says this location is “kind of a big deal” because that park was a project the local Lions club spearheaded in readiness for 1967 – hence the park’s name.
He says 100 Mile Lions Club member Ron Graves will be giving a speech at the grand celebration in Centennial Park of 150 years since the country’s confederation on Canada Day. While Graves wasn’t part of the park’s actual installation committee, he did become a local Lion member just slightly after it was built, Hadden notes.
Prior to ‘67, it was still a Lions’ park over on Dogwood Avenue with playground, and the rest of it was just a big marsh full of swamp, he explains.
“It was a big project. When it started, that park was just tiny, you would be hard pressed to say maybe [more than] 3/4 of an acre, and then it became … what it is now. It’s a beautiful park, it had a big effort put into it and lots of effort since then.”
Graves confirms the 100 Mile Lions played a huge role in building Centennial Park, along with Lord Martin Cecil, who donated the land.
However, he adds the park was created though the efforts of a great many others who were also key contributors.
Others in the community back then (some are today, others have since passed on) this longtime Lions member says he can still recall assisted significantly to the park included Scott “Scotty” Ramsay, Dave Robertson, Chuck Shaw-MacLaren, David Ainsworth, George Baloc and Art Eversfield, and he is sure there were many others.
Most everyone who volunteered with any group, local politicians, and a good many businesses and contractors in the South Cariboo also donated to the park’s creation, Graves explains.
While it was created in 1965 to be ready in time, he says by 1967 they’d built the original area, provided shelters, barbecues, tennis courts, and a bridge, which has since been replaced along with other repairs Lions have helped accomplish in more recent years.
“Initially there were five wooden shelters, and they had shake roofs, and the shakes ended up in the fire pits. So, we took those down and built the current ones, the metal ones.”
Graves adds that Vic Martin, then a local Lion and now a member in Kamloops, did much of this re-roofing work.
Some of the bigger fundraising local Lions used to do quite often in the 1960s-70s was a White Elephant auction, raffles, and selling light bulbs door-to-door, he says, adding the latter one was likely a big contributor back then.
“We’d buy light bulbs at wholesale prices and then sell them at retail, and it actually made good money because people always seemed to be in need of light bulbs in those days.”
Thanks to the foresight of early 100 Mile Lions and all the other community contributors and volunteers, the park has brought our families outdoors, and our tourists visiting it in droves for its sheer beauty alone.
They also turn out to the park for all sorts of activities and group fundraisers, including the District’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2015, various outdoor festivals, concerts and movie nights, events for schools, preschools, seniors and hospice, and many others – including the Canada Day 150 celebrations happening this weekend (June 30-July 2).
Graves and Hadden both know what most people would agree with after enjoying any of these events.
“Centennial Park has been a boon to the community.”