The Kinsmen Club of Salmon Arm was founded in 1944 with twenty-seven charter members. It was a service club dedicated to meeting the community’s greatest needs. It hosted Halloween parties for children, spearheaded the building of the pool and the playground at Fletcher Park. The club was responsible for the construction of the roof and installation of a public address system at the Memorial Arena, the lawn bowling greens, and the Kinsmen Little League Park. The club donated a water softener and oxygen tent to the Shuswap Lake General Hospital and installed the first fountain at McGuire Lake.
About 1968 the Kinsmen Club purchased a building from the South Canoe Women’s Institute on Auto Rd SE, made renovations and a playground, and later donated it to the First Salmon Arm Scouts.
In 1971, after being approached by the Family Court Committee, the Kinsmen Club of Salmon Arm built a Receiving and Remand Home in Salmon Arm, providing short-term accommodation for children who were wards of the court. The house opened in 1974 and closed in 2001.
The Receiving and Remand house was sold in 2001 and over $100,000 disbursed into the community: Little Mountain Sports Complex, the Salmon Arm Museum and Heritage Association, the Shuswap Community Foundation, South Shuswap First Responders Association, the Shuswap Health-Care Foundation, Salmon Arm Ambulance and the Canadian Cancer Society and the Shuswap Arena Society.
Salmon Arm’s Kinette Club was made up of participating wives of members of the Kinsmen Club. The women’s group was formed in 1947. The Kinette Club adopted the Kinsmen motto. Mrs. Tom Calvert was installed as the first president. The group worked on a campaign, Marching Mothers, to raise money to eradicate polio. They raised money to furnish the ten-bed pediatric unit and playroom at Shuswap Lake General Hospital.
Membership in the Kinsmen Club was restricted to men under the age of 40. As the club aged the “Kin Family” carried on. Older Kinsmen and Kinettes joined Kinsmen Club-affiliated groups: K-40, for men, and K-ettes, for women. The newly formed chapters were not active Kinsmen Club members because the club’s constitution and by-laws did not include them. K-40 and K-ettes did not pay dues to Kinsmen and the groups operated as social clubs rather than a service clubs. It was expected that the K-40 and K-ettes would lend support and expertise to their Kinsmen and Kinette Club counterparts.
A group met to establish a K-ette Club in January 1984. Betty Lou Wagner chaired the meeting and Mary Letham acted as secretary. The women ran an advertisement to encourage new members to join. An election was held at the second meeting. Eileen Bedford and Gladys Beech acted as scrutineers. Those who were elected were:
• President Mary Letham
• Vice President Gladys Beech
• Secretary Joyce Cummings
• Treasurer Dot Johnson
• Directors: Jackie Cannon and Jan Hunter
A K-ette Membership Certificate laid out the aims of the Club:
• To continue the fellowship experienced by the members while they were active in the family of Kin.
• To be an auxiliary of the sponsoring Kinsmen Club.
• To assist with the sponsoring Club’s projects; all with the view to the promotion and furtherance of the object of the Association.
The Kin Hall on Okanagan Ave SE was a popular venue for meetings. Geneva McLean, Jan Hunter and Shirley Meszaros were the phoning committee. The group met every other month and decided to pursue a charter.
A raffle was held to raise money and potluck meetings were the norm. Members visited Kin House to see if help was needed with activities there.
In 1991 the age for active membership in the Kinsmen and Kinette Clubs was raised to 45 and then eliminated altogether in 1999. This may have impacted the K-ette group which dissolved in in 2005.