In order to keep a community a vibrant place, it became evident very early on, that social clubs were a necessity.
Fundraising was not a new idea but all the “extras” cost money and what better way to achieve the results than to form the various social clubs.
The Oddfellows were chartered in 1904 as the first group in Ponoka and after the big fire of 1905, they built a hall on 48th Avenue, which was used for meetings, wedding receptions and dances by all the various clubs in town. The Rebekkas were the ladies group for the Oddfellows.
In 1925 B.P.O.E. (Elks) Club was formed and their first order of business was to build the Elks Hall on Chipman Avenue. This building was completed in 1928 and was host to most of the larger community events until the building was demolished in the mid-1960s. There was a dance every Saturday night and the ladies group — Royal Purple — assisted the Elks with their involvement in many activities for the betterment of life in Ponoka.
The Royal Canadian Legion was chartered in 1928 and the Ladies Auxiliary received its Charter in 1931. They met in various locations until they constructed their own building in 1946. They have raised funds for a multitude of reasons and are a major sponsor of the Ponoka Air Cadets.
The Society for the Ponoka Restroom was created in 1929 to maintain the facility and in 1936 the ladies convinced their husbands to organize a Stampede to raise funds and thus The Ponoka Stampede began! The Ponoka Restroom continued to be a popular meeting place for the country women until 1992.
The IODE group was founded in 1929 for Ladies and they took on the job of creating a library for the Town of Ponoka in 1933 and continued to provide scholarships to students attending school here.
The Kinsmen Club for men and Kinettes for the ladies was organized in 1941 and 1948 respectively. Their contributions to the community were helping to raise funds for the arena, the outdoor and indoor swimming pools, the recreation centre, The Boy Scout Hall, and many more activities that arose requiring funding.
In 1944 The Ponoka Stagette Club was formed for young women and they spent their time and efforts on war work and child welfare.
In 1948 the Lions Club was formed for men and the Lioness Club for the ladies. They contributed the funds for the cement floor in the new arena, the time clock and the ice machine. They raised money for the Central playground and helped with funds for the Mecca Glen skating rink and the Ferrybank and Calumet Curling Clubs. In 1967 in conjunction with the Town they established the Lions Centennial Park.
The Moose Lodge for men and Ladies of the Moose were organized in 1950 and they built a hall on the edge of town which is still used today for a variety of events.
In 1950 a prominent Ponoka gentleman, Elmer Finkle, founded the first Ponoka Ladies Hospital Auxiliary, which was made up of volunteers from different organizations as well as individuals from throughout the community and districts. Their fundraising efforts have resulted in a beneficial legacy that will always be utilized and appreciated by patients and staff.
As one looks around our community we can be thankful for all the residents and their hard work for creating all the “extras” that makes Ponoka special.
Every one of these groups helped sponsor all the sports teams with uniforms and equipment from hockey, soccer, and baseball.