Reflections of Ponoka: A salute to our early community clubs and organizations

The energetic growth and success of each and every community over the years has and always will depend on the determined efforts

The Ponoka Gun Club captured the championship of the Alberta rifle marksmanship competition in 1913 and are shown here with their great array of trophies and prizes. Team members are: Charles Segerstrom

The energetic growth and success of each and every community over the years has and always will depend on the determined efforts of thousands of individuals, families, businesses, organizations, and clubs, who all work together to provide the ongoing benefits, facilities and services that we enjoy each and every day. Going way back to when Ponoka became a town in 1904, many clubs and groups of hardy volunteers have been formed to encourage the promotion and participation in countless activities and events for all ages and all walks of life in our town and county.

The weekly Reflections and Remember When section in your Ponoka News salutes these many community and district clubs and organizations of yesterday and today, outlining their goals and the outstanding achievements of their members. We will of course be looking for your assistance and ideas to acquire information and photos along the way.

The Ponoka Gun Club

During our early settlement, one of the main tools of survival for our pioneers was a trusty rifle that enabled them to hunt and choose from forests full of the wild game that would feed their large families and supply many other year round needs. Most of these hardy settlers, both men and women, were required to become excellent marksmen, simply because their very existence depended on it.

Along with all the hard work that was required to secure their homesteads, plant their crops, raise their livestock, and establish their livelihoods through ever changing weather conditions and rugged terrain, these families would always find time for social gatherings, such as weekend picnics and games. It was here that friendly competitions of sharpshooting and skeet shooting begun, and in the early 1900s the Ponoka Gun Club was formed. In 1913 the local team of Charles Segerstrom, Bert Pendleton, Martin Bednar, Bill Kennedy, R.K. Allan, and Fred Lee put our town on the map by winning the Alberta championship.

The longstanding tradition of a keen eye and good competition and sportsmanship continued for many decades, with the Ponoka Gun Club meeting every Wednesday at the Stampede grounds. Some of the ardent members of that group were Ralph Vold, Hec Labrie, George Kneller, Charles Palechek, Hong Mah Poy, Ron Spence, Blair Vold, Bert Mullard, Roy Clark, Doug Nelson, Neil Wilkins, Alf Mattern, Lloyd Stephenson and Ryan Vold.

While the annual hunting season will always be a challenging sporting event for many, The Ponoka Fish and Game Association has maintained a long-standing natural range for rifle and bow competitors at pristine Lake Pofianga northwest of Ponoka. As well as hosting their popular Rifleman’s Rodeo every fall, they also sponsor their traditional horn measuring event, as well as conducting regular hunter training and safety clinics and outdoor survival and environment camps and clinics every year youth and family members.

Ponoka BPOE Elks

Throughout its long and active history, the Ponoka Elks Lodge has an enviable record of community services, which have been avidly performed by hundreds of members since BPOE Lodge #102 received its charter with 119 members way back in 1925. Mr. D. Bush was the first Exalted Ruler of the Elks, and an exciting milestone for the club came in 1928 when the sod was turned for their first Elks Hall on Chipman Avenue, which would serve as a popular community centre for countless social events, bingos and fundraisers until 1966 when it was sold to Mr. Lou Gorman.

Along way the Elks Lodge has always been dedicated to the betterment of Ponoka and some of the countless causes they have supported in partnership with the Ladies of the Royal Purple include: the Red Cross, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, the Purple Cross Fund for Crippled Children, and annual May Community Kiddies’ Day, sponsorship of local minor hockey and other sports teams and events.

Today the Ponoka Elks Lodge continues to carry on the proud traditions of the Alberta Elks Lodges Association, whose member clubs contribute $3 million annually for the benefit and progress of the communities they serve. Our Elks’ Lodge meets every second Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in their new hall at 5901 Highway 2A Ponoka, and new members are always welcome.

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