Our History

On February 20, 1920, Hal Rogers and 11 men gathered for a meeting at the Namking Cafe in Hamilton. This group formed the first club in our organization - The Kinsmen Club of Hamilton.

These men found that fellowship alone was not sufficient to sustain a continued interest and decided to perpetuate the ideal of service in peace time as they had done in the war years; thus our organization became a service organization. During the next 4 years, members from this initial club moved and formed additional clubs in Montreal, Winnipeg, and Vancouver, giving the organization a foothold from Montreal to the West Coast.

At a National convention in Winnipeg in the summer of 1926 the course of Kinsmen became more clear. After a hotly debated session, it was decided Kinsmen would be become a National rather than International Service club, and a new Constitution and By-laws were presented and adopted. Additionally, the maximum age limit for active membership was fixed at forty years. An important factor in setting this age restriction was to convince four "Eclectic Clubs" of Saskatchewan to join our Association. A prominent member of the Eclectic Clubs was John Diefenbaker, who championed the argument for the age restriction. There is presently no age restriction on active membership.During the great depression the Association grew both in numbers of members and clubs and began to become structurally organized into provincial districts and a national executive.

During World War II Kinsmen served their country and supplied the British army with its first mobile dental clinic. The national project during the war years was the "Milk for Britain" campaign, during which the Association shipped over 50 million quarts of milk to Britain's children.

After the war, the Association continued to grow and adopt even more ambitious projects. In 1949, the Association set up a Cancer Scholarship Fund to help train doctors in treating this disease. Assistance to flood and hurricane victims in our country and abroad further demonstrated Kinsmen's commitment to its ideals.

By being dedicated to fellowship and service, the Association grew to over three hundred clubs and ten thousand members by 1956. The Association experienced continual growth and expansion up until late 1970.

A project that gained Kinsmen great public profile during this era was the founding and construction of the Kinsmen National Institute for Mental Retardation. Our current national project is Cystic Fibrosis. To date Kinsmen and Kinette Clubs in Canada have raised more than $25 million dollars to aid in the fight against this dreaded disease. We are proud of our accomplishments to date and look forward to the challenges which await us in the new millennium.