Aside from our Parks Program, the Nanaimo Gyro Club has made contributions to several significant projects in the City:
New Hospital Building
One of the Club’s first major projects was helping to raise funds for the New Hospital Building on Franklyn Street. The previous hospital was built in 1881 was over 40 years old. The Nanaimo Gyro Club set their sights on helping to build the New Hospital Building, which was erected on the same site on Franklyn Street and opened in 1928.
The result of the effort of the members at that time cannot be better described than by quoting from Free Press files of October 13, 1922:
“The Nanaimo Gyro Club, the city’s youngest, and without a doubt, most active organization, went over the top strong in its initial effort at community services and as a result of its activities in connection with the recent Mid-Summer Frolic held on the Central Sports Grounds, together with an individual effort on part of the Club, succeeded in raising the sum of $1,001.62 for the New Hospital Building Fund, a cheque for this amount being handed to Secretary Jno. Shaw today.
Funds were later raised to equip a room in the new hospital building, and thus a foundation was laid which naturally led to the latter activities of this aggregation of young men, namely the equipping of playgrounds for the younger generation. For this purpose they have raised several thousand dollars. And the good work goes on.
In 1937, the City of Nanaimo was offered an option to purchase about an acre of land where Maffeo-Sutton Park currently stands. The city was required to hold a referendum requiring 60% of votes to pass. In February of 1938, the referendum passed and the city acquired the land. Around this time, the Nanaimo Gyro Club proposed the construction of a new civic auditorium, instead of enlarging the existing school gymnasium (built nearly twenty years before). “Not much happened until February 1939, when the club approached Council with plans for a $65,000 civic auditorium and sports centre (at that time envisaged for lacrosse, ice skating, curling and basketball) on the newly acquired waterfront property. Originally a $10,000 swimming pool was also considered for the site. Council, initially skeptical, was persuaded to come onside by a gift of $10,000 towards the project from the Gyro Club. Dominion and provincial governments promised $21,800 for labour costs. City council needed approval from taxpayers to raise $60,000 for construction. Gyro member and vice-president of the Nanaimo Athletic Association, Pete Maffeo, aided by members of every service club, lodge and other organizations in town, known as the Lawrence Rieper 33 Service Club Council, managed the fund raising campaign. He later became mayor, and is honoured in the naming of Maffeo Sutton Park” 1
During construction it was decided that a wooden floor was needed to cover the ice when the arena would be used for other events. Again, the Gyro Club stepped up to the plate:
“The removable fir floor, one and a quarter inches thick, in ten feet by three and a half feet sections (over 400 of them) was paid with $1500 raised by the Gyro Club. The Gyros also raised $1000 by public subscription for loud speakers.” 2
The Nanaimo Gyro Club donated $30,000 to the building of the Port Theatre. These funds were used to purchase furnishings and equipment for 2 chorus dressing rooms.
In April of 1996, Club President Dave Hart presented a cheque for the first installment of $10,000 to the Nanaimo & District Harbourfront Centre Society at the society’s annual general meeting. He is quoted as saying “The Gyro Club has built many parks and playgrounds throughout the city. This contribution to the theatre is in recognition of the importance of this significant civic project.”
St. John Ambulance
In 2003 the Nanaimo Gyro Club pledged $25,000 to build the St. John House in Nanaimo. St. John Ambulance is a not-for-profit organization with the mission to save lives at work, home and play. The group offers public first-aid courses and supports the community with its adult brigade, youth program and therapy dog community service programs. The St. John House is located at 2250 Labieux Road.
The Nanaimo Gyro Club also has a long standing history with parks and youth. The Gyro club provided the land for the first waterfront park in Nanaimo, Georgia Park, which seamlessly connects to Maffeo-Sutton Park. You can learn more about our parks here.
Our service to the City of Nanaimo includes countless hours of community service and hundreds of thousands of dollars of donations. From April 1, 1985 to March 30, 1994, we have invested over $75,000 in support of parks, playgrounds and other worthy causes. And from fiscal year end 1994 to fiscal year end 2004, the Nanaimo Gyro Club donated a further $181,659.
1. Nanaimo Between Past and Future; Published by Friends of Plan Nanaimo Society
2. Nanaimo Between Past and Future; Published by Friends of Plan Nanaimo Society