Our Beginning – 1931
1931 saw the Great Depression affect every walk of life in Canada from large cities to small towns like Paris. In particular, small businesses and farmers bore the brunt of economic hardships. Unemployment rose to almost 32%, prices on most goods fell, low incomes were the norm, and our inadequate social welfare system made life almost unbearable for most people.
A closer look at life in 1931 reveals that milk cost 26 cents per half gallon, steak cost 35 cents per pound, and gas cost 10 cents per gallon. You could buy an average house for $600.00 or rent a house for $26.00 per month. A stay at the Willett Hospital cost $1.00 per day. There were no minimum wage laws. Life was indeed challenging in 1931.
Despite all these challenges and with the sponsorship of the Brantford Lions Club, a group of community minded individuals formed the first Paris Lions Club. Our first Lion Club consisted of 31 members, demonstrating a very strong commitment to service in our town. The charter fee per person was $15.00. Those first members consisted mostly of businessmen, but also included doctors, a dentist, a high school principal, a lawyer, and a minister. The first meetings were held at the Arlington Hotel. The date of the first organizational meeting was March 16, 1931. Our first Lions Club President was Col. A. H. Monteith with William G. Wood serving as Secretary and Daniel R, Elwood serving as Treasurer.
One has to wonder what that first meeting was like, what was discussed, and what challenges our Club experienced in the midst of the Depression. The first project undertaken by the Club was the creation of Lions Park. Paris just wouldn’t be Paris without Lions Park. If only that first group of Lions could see what a long lasting their first project would become and how many people have enjoyed Lions Park since 1931! The spirit and dedication of our first Club deserves our continued respect and gratitude!!