Optimists bid farewell to Saugeen Shores

December 8, 2016

Service Clubs

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The South-Port Optimist Club bids a sad and fond farewell to Saugeen Shores. Following many painful meetings, the club has come to the decision that we must close. Over the past 42 years this club has supported the youth in Saugeen Shores through financial donations, encouragement and help.

The Southampton Optimist Club received their charter on September 10, 1974 and was sponsored by the Stratford Optimist Club.

Paul Salter of Southampton
only active charter member

The membership of this new club totaled 30 – all male – and the executive consisted of:
George MacDonald President
Mike Kingsley Vice President
 Larry Muschamp  Vice President
Ernie Hatt  Secretary/Treasurer
 Roger Dewaele  Director
Ray Litwiller


Peter Koenig


Adrian Vandenbrook


John Helwig


Earle Burnett


 The club did not waste any time is organizing events in planning community events. In 1974 a children’s Christmas Party occurred as well as free skating events for children. In 1975, there was a fishing derby for the kids and later that year horse drawn sleigh rides.

Also that year was the first annual Atom Minor Hockey Tournament which for many years was run by the late Jake Zinn and later by Rob Witter. This tournament still continues today under the guidance of Saugeen Shores Minor Hockey Association.

In 1977, Roger Dewaele organized the “Tennessee Dogfight” golf tournament with proceeds going toward helping junior golfers. This tournament became a very popular and successful event for 33 years.

The club remained all male until 1987 when Brenda Zinn (Vanderploeg) joined as our first female member. Today the South-Port Club is virtually split down the middle with male/female members.

The Club roster grew with new members from not only Southampton but from Port Elgin and surrounding area. To better reflect this membership, the name of the Club was officially changed to the South-Port Optimist Club on August 21, 1986 .

Fundraising has always been a major activity and in the early years this entailed dances, selling cheese and chocolate bars, Christmas tree sales, raffles, wine tours, curling bonspiels, casino nights etc.

On September 24, 1987, the South-Port Optimists hit the big time – the club began running weekly bingos every Thursday in Southampton. This has been their most consistent and successful money maker to date and this success goes to all of the tireless members involved in organizing, scheduling, calling and working the floor - and of course to all of their loyal bingo players.

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 In 42 years the club provided funding for dozens of individuals and organizations and has disbursed approximately $750,000 to the community. In addition to the events mentioned earlier, the club has:

  • Sponsored the Breaker’s Swim Meet for 32 years.
  • A long-time supporter of the Saugeen Track and Field Club.
  • A major contributor to the Halliwell Soccer Pitch in 1999
  • Installed 3 small playgrounds in Southampton and Port Elgin
  • Donated to the Children’s Accessible Playground in Southampton
  • Donated to the Saugeen Memorial Hospital building fund as well as setting up and furnishing for the children’s play area
  • Under the coordination of the late Optimist Len O’Conner, assisted with the building of the children’s fishing dock at the Port Elgin Harbour and assisted with registration for the annual children’s fishing derby.
  • Run “Shop With a Cop” with students from the local schools where purchased food is donated to the local food bank.
  • Supplied musical instruments to the local school music programs.
  • Sponsored local youth and children to various seminars and developmental training camps.
  •  Sponsored yearly academic awards to local elementary students
  • In the early years we sponsored a bus load of children to Blue Jays games in memory of Optimist Jake Zinn who was tragically killed in a car accident in 1986.
  • Donated to the local Cancer Society to assist transportation costs to children with cancer and their families. This year, money raised from our fourth annual garage sale along with a matching grant from the Canadian Children’s Optimist Foundation resulted in a $1688 donation.
  •  Coordinated and sponsored the Cardboard Boat Races as part of the Marine Heritage Weekend in Southampton along with a BBQ.
  • Supported the “Swim to Survive” program; Women’s House; Bruce County Museum

During the early years of the club, the dedication of the Charter Members cannot be overstated. Many hours of work and fun went toward planning events and fundraising for the youth of Saugeen Shores. The true joy of all members – past and present – is the knowledge that they have touched many lives and the legacy of their support will be endless.

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Thursday, December 08, 2016