A club that spearheaded, or had a hand in, establishment of parks and other community amenities in the city is celebrating 100 years.
Gyro Club of Nanaimo came into existence in 1922 with Joe Cooper as the first president.
Stephen Cowie, club historian and a member since 1973, said while Gyro’s original aim was to serve as a social club, it “morphed” into one that helps the community.
The Gyro Youth Sports Fields at Beban Park, Linley Point Gyro Park, Gyro Playground at Comox Road, Gyro Playground at Deverill Square park and Sid Clark Gyro Park are only some of the spaces bearing the club’s name. The club also teamed with the Steve Smith Legacy Foundation and other partners to establish the track named after mountain bike champion Steve Smith and gave $25,000 to the City of Nanaimo for Merle Logan Field, with its artificial playing surface offering year-round use.
“I think [parks have] been the club’s largest contribution to Nanaimo,” said Cowie. “The club has mostly focused on youth, outdoors and sports … we let people tell us what they need and try to help them get it.”
The club also contributed with the old Civic Arena in downtown Nanaimo, which was built in 1939. Then vice-president Pete Maffeo was one of the members who led Gyro’s efforts to team up with other service clubs in Nanaimo to raise money and the club also contributed $1,500 for wood flooring and $1,000 for speakers. Equipment and furnishings at dressing rooms at the Port Theatre were paid for by a $30,000 donation from the club leading up to the facility’s 1998 opening. It also presented $25,000 in 2003 for construction of St. John Ambulance’s St. John House on Labieux Road.
The social aspect of Gyro Club of Nanaimo remains key, according to Cowie.
“Friendship and social contact are really an important dimension to growing and living well and I think the club is designed to contribute greatly to that,” he said.
The club installed its 100th president on Saturday, April 9, with Garth Johnstone taking over from John Nielsen.
For more information about the Gyro Club of Nanaimo, including how to join, go to www.nanaimogyro.com.