Big River Lodge No. 256
Benevolent And Protective Order Of The Elks
The Big River Lodge No. 256 Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks was granted their Charter on May 15, 1935, and the following officers were installed: Exalted Ruler - J.S. Friedman, Leading Knight - P.N. Green, Loyal Knight - C.E. Potter, Lecturing Knight - L.J. Waite, Secretary - W.R. Gould, Treasurer - C.G. Otte, Chaplain - N. Calland, Esquire - R.M. Bell, Inner Guard - G.T. Hartnett, Tyler - F. Buckley, Trustees - S. Kowalyk, J.S. Forbes and J. Waite.
The Charter members were the above officers and E.C. Over, A.R. Eddie, C.E. Hoffman, J.K. Johnson and C.J. Brownfield.
Title to lots 9 and 10 both in Block 6, Big River Plan AA 4863, was transferred November 30, 1936. There was a house on this property belonging to Ed Zeigler which was converted to a hall. Lot ten was sold for taxes December 1, 1934, and the value on the Title was $300.00.
In the minutes of September 4, 1952, George A. Anderson estimated the cost of extending the Hall 50 X 40 and extension for kitchen for a total cost of $5,800.00 and the Lodge accepted this and the hall now was 100' x 40', with entrance 12' x 16' and the kitchen 12' x 30' and washrooms and basement entrance at the back.
In 1975, major renovations were made to the basement, it was excavated and steel beams were placed under the floor, the basement floor was cemented and cement blocks were used for the walls, ceiling tiles put in and a carpet laid in 1978, for clubrooms.
The Lodge has served Big River District through the years promoting and supporting all sports activities. The hall has been serving the community for many years, free for funerals and some charitable organization activities. It was rented for weddings and dances at reasonable cost which did not the hall expenses. The Elks Lodge and Royal Purple have worked on many joint projects for the benefit of the community. This report prepared by John Hoehn.
Big River Lodge No. 95
Order Of The Royal Purple
The Big River Lodge No.95, Order of the Royal Purple was instituted on December 5, 1946, by Mrs. Anna C. Knutson of Regina, Supreme Honoured Royal Lady of the Order of the Royal Purple of Canada, at the Elks Hall with members of Big River B.P.O. Elks Lodge No. 256 in attendance. Jack Phillips was assistant installing officer and Rupert Holmer secretary pro-tem.
Officers installed were: Honoured Royal Lady - Martha Waite, Associate Royal Lady - Grace Gould, Loyal Lady - Rubena Wenzel, Lecturing Lady - Margaret Hansen, Secretary - Walda Hartnett, Treasurer - Phyllis Brownfield, Chaplain - Pearl McNabb, Conductress - Eva Mellin, Inner Guard - Callie Mamchur, Outer Guard - Laverne McNabb, 3 Term Trustee - Mary Anderson, 2 Term Trustee - Fanny Johnson, 1 Term Trustee - Aleada Bengtson, Pianist - Belroy Wirtz, Historian - Georgena Forbes.
The first meeting of the Lodge was held the following evening, December 6, at which time the new officers performed their various duties, under the guidance of Lady Anna Knutson. Three members were initiated - Blanche Newton, Hazel Over and May Halliday. These three along with the ladies taking the obligation the previous evening were the charter members of the Big River Lodge. Names on the Charter are: Martha Waite, Grace Gould, Rubena Wenzel, Margaret Hansen, Fanny Johnson, Phyllis Brownfield, Pearl McNabb, Eva Mellin, Callie Mamchur, Fanny Johnson, Mary Anderson, Laverne McNabb, Aleada Bengtson, Belroy Wirtz, Huidah Johnson, Doris Millikin, Jean Sundby, Valeda Kainz, Loretta Otte, Lillian Wopnford, Jean Chamberland, Guilda Brownfield, Georgena Forbes, Ida Johnson, Sarah Dell, Mary Hartnett, Bertha Snell, May Halliday, Blanche Newton and Hazel Over. These ladies were the pioneers of the Lodge.
Duties for District No. 4 from Big River Lodge have been Martha Waite, Margaret Hansen, Grace Gould, Laura G. Wilson and Barbara Phillips. Martha Waite was Supreme Honoured Lady of the Order of the Royal Purple of Canada for the term 1957 - 1958.
Ever since the Lodge was instituted, the members have worked for the betterment of the community and the projects they have sponsored and supported are many and varied.
When the hospital was officially opened on November 11, 1948, the Royal Purple ladies served tea at the new hospital, sponsored a shower of vegetables, canned fruit, etc., the proceeds of the tea going to the hospital building fund. The Lodge had already contributed to the fund, paid for making twenty-seven pairs of curtains, spent several hundred dollars for a radio, pictures, bed lamps and several much needed things. They later bought a neon Red Cross sign for outside of the hospital as for several years the hospital was operated by the Red Cross. For many years the Royal Purple ladies were the auxiliary for the hospital and they still buy needed articles for it. They also assisted the public health nurse when she held clinics in the Elks Hall which was donated for this purpose.
The Royal Purple Lodge operated a public library for five years in the Elks Hall, and for several summers was in charge of the swimming pool and playground which they had fixed up at what was known as the "Old Swimming Hole". Dressing rooms, toilets, picnic tables, swings, playground equipment, etc. were supplied and members supervised and cleaned the facilities. This project was given up on account of vandalism.
When the Elks Lodge moved their outdoor skating rink from down by Cowan Lake to their property behind the Elks Hall, members of the Royal Purple assisted them in this project and to put on their winter carnival. They also assisted by operating booths at the sports days and now since there are no sports days, but rodeo, they still help the same way.
The Royal Purple Lodge shares the cost of operating, repairing and improving the Elks Hall with the Elks Lodge. This large hall is used for many purposes and the hall is donated as well as being rented. A stage was built in the hall and the Royal Purple bought stage curtains. This was done so that the school students could have a place to put on their concerts and drama activities. The Royal Purple for many years bought trophies for school athletic awards, gave rhythm band and playground equipment, money towards buying a projector and assisted the school in many ways. Each year, in conjunction with the Elks Lodge, they provide scholarships.
Much could be told of the community work of the Royal Purple Lodge, as well as their work and donations to the Save the Children Fund, Deaf Detection and Purple Cross Fund, all joint National projects of the Elk and Royal Purple Lodges.
Charter members of the Royal Purple Lodge living in Big River and still active in the lodge are Martha Waite, Grace Gould, Guilda Brownfield, Doris Millikin and Huldah Johnson, and charter members still retaining membership living out of town are: Belroy Wirtz, Rosetown, Margaret Hansen and Eva Smith (Mellin), Saskatoon, Lillian Wopnford, Calgary and Ida Young, Salmon Arm, B.C. This is as of October, 1978. This report was prepared by Mrs. Grace Gould.
Royal Canadian Legion
A group of Legion men began holding meetings in the late 1920s in an effort to get an official Legion Branch started in Big River. At first they held their meetings in a member's home, as they didn't have a Hall at that time. They raised money by holding whist drives in the Catholic Church basement. Finally they were able to purchase an old building on Third Avenue and fix it up for the first Legion Hall.
Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 136 was established in Big River on April 23, 1930. Charter members are listed as follows: Edwin Charles Baskott, Richard M. Bell, William Thomas Brown, Medard Clement, William Roland Gould, John Winthrop Hackett, Henry Jones, Joseph E. Lamothe, George Washington Martin, Arthur Moores, Ivery Ogden Newton, James C. O'Conner, Cyril Edward Potter, Robert John Purcell and George B. McKnight. Life members are Joseph Dundas and Michael Thibeault.
The first military funeral was for Joseph LaMothe from Bodmin. There were over one hundred volunteers from Big River district to enlist in the first World War. Many of the volunteers for the second World War enlisted in the Saskatoon Light Infantry, although there were also men in the R.C.A.F. and the navy services.
Dick Bell was the first president of the Legion. A table from Bush's household was used during meetings and is still in the present day Hall. The engine bell from the last steam engine to come to Big River was used in the Hall.
The Legion has been active in the community throughout the years. One important event the Legion was responsible for was the annual Sports Day held each July 1st. It was a family picnic type of day with games for young and old. It was not organized with profit in mind, but was simply a day set aside for the people to get together and to enjoy. A fine display of fireworks usually ended a fun-filled day.
The Hall was used on many occasions for card parties, dances and other social events. In 1940, the Legion operated a library with books donated from the community. The Health Centre held their office at the Hal for some time.
A new Hall was purchased in the 1950s and still serves as a meeting place for Branch 136.
to the Royal Canadian Legion
This Branch was formed in August 1951. Charter members are as follows: Aileen Daley, Berle McKnight, Mary Pankoski, Mary Jane Potts, Marjorie Yurach, Stells Boran, Kate Brown, Marie Clarke, Eileen Dube, May Lamberton, Edith LaFontaine, Blanche Morrison, Doreen Munn, Nola McCully and Cora St. Arnaud.
The Legion Ladies have assisted the men in many of their community activities. They have also worked on projects of their own. In earlier years, the ladies sponsored clean-up bees for the cemetery. They also planted trees along Central Avenue at the cemetery and requested the Town Council to consider a permanent caretaker. The ladies purchased a small park area which is located just behind the Town Office building and serves as a playground area.
Each year the Auxiliary pledges a donation to the community, which takes various forms. sometimes scholarships, sports equipment or training, material objects where needed, trophies and cash donations.
Poppy Day Tea, November 11th supper, and the Hobby Fairs as well as the O and S canoe trip, are all annual events sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary.
Organization of Boy Scouts
Boy Scouts at Council Rock on the hill
The Boy Scouts were organized in Big River in the late 1920s. This was a group of boys over eleven years of age who were training for mental, moral, and physical development. Camping out in the forest or near one of the many lakes in the district was part of the boys training to increase their knowledge of the outdoors. It was also a pleasant and healthful way for the boys to spend their summer.
Mr. Gordon Walker was a group leader in 1929 when the boys were given a special treat. They were flown to Waskesiu to attend a Boy Scout Jamboree. A plane from the R.C.A.F. base at Ladder Lake was used to transport the boys. The pilot of the plane was "Wiggie" Grace.
Scout trip to Waskesiu
The names of some of the boys who went on this trip were: Dick Smith, Alex Afanasieff, Gordon Dunbar, Blake Mathews, Jackie Maxwell and Tommy Michel.
In the 1930s, Mr. Frank Michie (school teacher) was leader of the Boy Scouts and the Wolf Cub Pack.
The Wolf Cub Pack was made up of boys under eleven years of age. The boys, with Mr. Michie in attendance, would meet each Saturday morning on the hill overlooking the town. In nice weather they would gather around "Council Rock" on the hill.
If the weather was unsuitable, the meetings would be held in the basement of the Roman Catholic Church.
Girl Guide Group - Mrs. Smith, leader
Girl Guide and Brownie Group