Christine Whelan FEO, January 18, 2024, VOL. 5 ISSUE 10
There are several different Kin Canada clubs in the area: the Fort Erie Kinsmen and Kinettes, the Stevensville Kinsmen and Kinettes, and the Ridgeway-Crystal Beach Kin Club.
“We used to have Ridgeway Crystal Beach Kinsmen and Kinettes. Then about eight years ago, the Kinsmen became the Kin Club, connecting the two together.”
Dan Strugar, a Kinsmen member for 34 years, clarified about the different clubs in the area, along with some of the changes with his own, in Ridgeway, now that it appears to be making a comeback.
Dan considers Ridgeway his home club. He holds it close to his heart. The members had acknowledged him as a lifelong member.
He explained, “Kin Canada is our national body,” founded by Hal Rogers in Hamilton on February 20, 1920.
Dan had the story, “And when he came back from the war, he wanted to better his community. He tried to join the Rotary Club because his dad was a Rotarian. But the problem was, they wouldn’t let him in because he was a plumber. At the time, they only allowed one trade person per club. There was already a plumber in the club and it was Hal’s dad,” with a laugh.
“So, he decided to form his own service club. That’s how Kin was formed.”
He added, “The ladies came on right around WWII. It became kind of a war service club.”
Ridgeway-Crystal Beach Kin Club: The History, From Start Until Now
Since April of 1947, the club has been in existence for 76 years.
Dan shared some of the projects the RCB Kin Club has been involved in around town.
Ambulance Service. “Before we had regionalized ambulance service when you picked up the phone for an ambulance in Ridgeway or Crystal Beach, it was the Kinsmen who showed up at your door with our own ambulance.
“We also supplied the VON ladies with cars.” He added, “Back when we had a lot of money.”
The Ridgeway Summer Festival Street Dance started with a long-standing agreement. “When the festival was first started in the late 70s, the Ridgeway BIA came to the Kinsmen Club to say they wanted to organize a summer festival but there was no money. They asked for help. We gave them $5,000. The only thing we asked in return was to run the beer garden and street dance on Saturday night for as long as the festival exists.”
From that year on, every year, the Ridgeway Street Dance served as a good fundraiser for the club. “It put a significant amount of money into our account, which in turn was put back into the community.”
Last year was the first year the Kinsmen didn’t run the beer garden and street dance. The membership was non-existent. “The BIA ran it.”
The Crystal Ridge Arena, opened in 1977, was a joint effort between the Lions and the Kinsmen. All the land behind the arena was owned by the Kinsmen, according to Strugar.
“The land was donated to the Kinsmen Club in the 1970s with the stipulation that it was to be used only as recreational land. So, when the arena project came up, we knew it applied, so we donated all that land to the Town.”
The club sponsored the construction of Pride Field, the track that ran north of Ridgeway-Crystal Beach High School, and the construction of a seniors’ home on Rebstock Road in the 1970s. They have, in the past, supported high school scholarships. Dan noted this is something they hope to return to.
“It was a bit of a survival thing,” Strugar commented that all service clubs have been bringing the two genders together and creating co-ed clubs because the memberships have all been dropping in recent years.
“Pre-COVID, the club struggled with membership. They were down to four members.”
Once the pandemic hit, the hall sat vacant until October.
“Then in mid-summer, Lloyd McGuigan, a past club president, approached me and asked me if I could help him get the club back up and running again.” Lloyd hated to see it disappear after such a long history.
In September, the club had a membership of zero, according to Dan. “Lloyd and I had to put ourselves back on the roster.”
Strugar reached out to past members. He reached out to current local residents who post about their love for Ridgeway – Crystal Beach on Facebook. A social media post from a newcomer, reached out, wondering what to do. Somebody read this and tagged Dan in the comments.
As a result, few members have returned after many years. Every other member is brand new.
“As of today, we are currently at 17 members. So, we’ve gone from zero to 17 since September.”
When asked if the new members were new residents to the Ridgeway Crystal Beach area or those who’ve been around for a while and just decided it was time to join, Dan replied, “A little of both.”
So, the current membership is a combination of returned members, new members who are new to the area, and new members who have been around. Eclectic.
“Although we’ve been around for 76 years, we’re now starting from ground zero.” He stated it’s been a club on paper only for about the last six years.
Membership – What does it entail?
“We typically meet every three weeks on Mondays.”
The club has a motto of priorities. Family. Work. Kin. “It’s not mandatory to make every single meeting. If a family event comes up at a meeting on Monday, that is more important. Family and work come first.”
One of the reasons the Kin Club was created, combining Kinsmen and Kinettes, was, “To allow husbands and wives to get out and do things together.”
The Kin Club took over the hall, located at 2973 Hyman Road, Ridgeway in 2014. “It’s a Town-owned building. We look after the maintenance and repairs for it on their behalf,” Strugar explained.
“The hall,” which holds 150 people, “is up and running. We’ve had to do some extensive work.”
The new roof was put on about seven years ago, the entire ceiling has been spray-insulated, and the electrical system has been upgraded. Both furnaces and hot water tank have recently been replaced and the walls have been repainted.
These repairs were addressed with prior funds put aside for the hall.
A priority now is getting the kitchen operational and open. This requires a new three-compartment sink.
“Once they get the kitchen running, we will start having our dinners again.”
Watch for promotions for the resurrection of the Kin Club’s dinners, one way the club circulates funds through the community. The dinners are fundraisers designed to turn the profits back out into the Ridgeway Crystal Beach area.
Dan noted that the club has been grateful for Joe at what was once called Joe’s Valumart, now called Your Independent Grocer. “Joe has been unbelievable for us. He has been supporting our club for years and continues to, donating finger foods for meetings, giving discounts for fundraisers involving food, and has been known to kick in a hundred bucks donation on top.”
The hall is also, once again, available for rental. Dan says they’re trying to get the word out there of its availability.
Among renting for special events, “We’re looking for two groups who are interested in renting the hall weekly. We’ve had this in the past. A karate group, a yoga group. One rented every Tuesday, one every Thursday.”
On Saturday, January 6, the club held a Bottle and Can Drive. Check Facebook for resulting comments.
“We have a couple of events coming up. A Winter Fest Vendor Show will be at the hall on February 24 and a Clothing and Appliance Drive. The details will be posted on our Facebook Pages as they develop.”
Follow the club’s Facebook Pages for updates and to contact Dan Strugar:
- Ridgeway Crystal Beach Kin Club Hall
- Ridgeway-Crystal Beach Kin Club
The Ridgeway-Crystal Beach Kin Club Hall, 2973 Hyman Road, Ridgeway.
Photos by Dan Strugar
- Group Shot – L-R .. Darryl Van Morsel, Zone D Deputy Governor Marcus Antaya, District 1 Governor Carol Van Rooy, Terri Macinnis (Club Secretary), Scott Bolton, Linda Bolton, Josh Dua, District 1 Governor Shawn Holroyd, Life Member Tim “Raggs” Haggerty, Martina Post (RCB Club President) , Life Member Nick Strugar, Life Member Dan Strugar (Club Treasurer), Mayor Wayne Redekop. Missing: Ann Marie Martin, Brett Boake, Marc Zucarelli, Jennifer McCready, Jordan Roy, Lloyd McGuigan.