Club History

Here are some highlights from the history of Kiwanis Club of Canby:

1938 Canby Kiwanis Club Charter Members

Back Row (left to right): Rev. Malcolm Ballinger, Mason Floyd, Howard C. Belton, Eugene Silke, Dr. Rummel, Craig C. Dedman, Dr. Frank Renfrew, Paul Perkett, Frank T. Cutsforth, Dr. Edwin Henry, Rinehart Gesik, Melvin H. Evans, Lloyd Arvidson, George A. Pope Front Row (left to right): Unknown, John R. Nieland; George F. Bates, Archie S. Markee, Curtis Johnson, Sr., J. Raymond Vinyard, Ralph C. Zimmerman, Alfredo Joe Stefani, G. Floyd Hall, Harvey N. Everhart, T.H. Arestad, A.F. Strayer, Unknown, Roy L. Mangus

1930s & 1940s

July 14, 1938: Club was founded by 28 Canby area businessmen and professionals. (For a complete list of the known original members, see below.) The first president of the club was Ralph Zimmerman. (For a complete list of club presidents, see other page in this section.) The sponsoring clubs were the Portland and Salem Kiwanis clubs. Kiwanis International was founded in 1915 in Detroit.

1939: Club sponsors first Boy Scout Troop established in Canby. The club continues to sponsor the same troop, Troop 258, and has sponsored it for most of its history, and now also sponsors Cub Scout Pack 503.

1941: From the Canby Kiwanis 1941 Annual Report: “Club members have cooperated with city officials in naming streets and placing name posts and markers on all streets in town. This is the first time the town has had streets named and marked. The work of actually constructing and painting markers was done at the high school under direction of Kiwanians — work done largely in the manual training department. A highly practical service to the community.”

1948: Approximate year the club began sponsoring the Kiddie Capers Parade (which may have started before the club was formed, since there is a 1934 picture at the Canby Historical Society). This children’s parade goes through Canby to the fairgrounds on the first day of the Clackamas County Fair in August. The club continues to sponsor this parade, and club members organize the event, register participants and serve as parade marshals. 

1950s & 1960s        

October 1952: Canby Kiwanis opens its Thrift Store. The store was modeled after one that was operated by the Lincoln City Kiwanis. The store opened in the old Cottage Hotel that stood where the Reif law offices now stand and originally operated two days a week. Three wives of club members played key roles in opening the store and in its early years of operation: Alta Hill, Beanie Kraft and Erna Matzke. The store has been at eight locations in downtown Canby before moving to its current site in 1989. Prior to that move the store was open two or three days a week using only volunteer help. Club members did most of the work on the interior of the present store. The store is the chief fundraising vehicle for the club and also helps needy families and other organizations with donations of clothing, books and household items.

1955: The club has been providing funding and volunteer work for the Mount Hood Kiwanis Camp since the mid-1950s. The camp provides a summer camp experience for special needs children.

1958: Canby Kiwanis begins sponsoring its own Christmas Food & Toy Drive, which continues to this day as the Kiwanis Canby Community Food & Toy Drive, with the club organizing and helping fund the drive each year. Other civic groups and individuals have provided major contributions and volunteer hours throughout the years, including the Lions Club and Rotary Club.

1965: The Canby Kiwanis Club has been awarding scholarships to Canby High School seniors since at least this year. The Club funded $24,000 in scholarships in 2021.

1968-69: Canby Kiwanis spearheaded the organizing and funding of the effort to build the Canby Community Pool. Club member Wade Bettis Sr. led the project. The club held an auction and sold memberships to raise $50,000 to have enough funds to gain a $150,000 FHA loan for the construction. Ground was broken in 1969, the pool was built in 1970, and the city took over the pool in 1971. The Kiwanis club continued to provide major funding for the pool in the 1970s. 

1969: The Canby Kiwanis Club was one of the founding sponsors of the Junior Livestock Auction held each year at the Clackamas County Fair. The club purchases animals from the 4H and FFA young people who enter their animals in the auction, earning these young people money for college and other uses. The Club currently spends $7,000 to $10,000 each year at auction.


1970: Club members play a key role in planning Canby Centennial, placing five members on the nine-person planning committee.

1972: Club begins operating a glass recycling depot in Canby to reduce the amount of glass going into landfills. The club ran the depot using club members as volunteers throughout the 1970s. Club recycled upward of 40,000 pounds (20 tons) of glass a year. Glass is sold to a Portland recycler, raising money for the club, as well as helping the environment.

1974: Scout A-frame lodge building is completed after a three-year, community-wide volunteer effort. Kiwanis Club played a major role in that effort contributing $1,600 and countless volunteer hours. Project was overseen by club members Herman Bergman and Jerald Rothi, both very active in scouting. Lodge was eventually named for Bergman, who served as scoutmaster for 10 years.

1977: Canby Kiwanis provides the $16,000 in funding needed to install lights at the Canby High School baseball field. School superintendent Richard Brown noted in a thank-you letter to Canby Kiwanis, “It is very hard to find a civic organization with this type of community interest and the desire and financial ability to undertake a project of this magnitude.”

1979: Canby Kiwanis provides the approximately $6,000 in funding needed for lights at the Eccles School baseball field.

1980s to Present

1987: Kiwanis International admits women as members. Currently, more than 50 percent of the Canby Kiwanis Club members are women.

1986: Club begins sponsoring a service club in Canby Union High School around this time. That club is now called the Key Club, and Canby Kiwanis continues to sponsor it.

1990: The club has been conducting Red Cross blood drives every fall since 1990. The club now helps with blood drives conducted by its Key Club and Builders Club in Canby schools.

1991: The club has been raising funds for the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and its Children’s Cancer Program through various fundraisers since 1991.

2001: Club begins sponsoring Terrific Kids program in local elementary schools.

2003: Club organizes and sponsors the Builders Club at Ackerman Middle School. Club is now at Baker Prairie Middle School.

2012: Club begins sponsorship of monthly Canby Area Recognition of Excellence (CARE) awards, which recognize a different local teacher or administrator each month for exemplary work in educating local young people.

2015: Club celebrates the 100th anniversary of Kiwanis international.

2016: Club donates $50,000 to fund the Children’s Area of the new Canby Public Library as its Centennial Project commemorating the 100th anniversary of Kiwanis International in 2015.

2017: Club sponsors Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library within the boundaries of the Canby School District, offering a free book each month mailed to children from birth through their fifth birthday month. Club also adopts Eco Park and begins twice-yearly park cleanups from Territorial Road toward the river.

CANBY KIWANIS 2017: Thirty-three of the club’s 58 members were present for this photo in October 2017. Front row, left to right: Angela Baker, Christina Gutierrez, Doris Robertson, Joanne McCall, Luana Hill, Mary Ashford. Middle row: Peggy Yeats, Mary Anne Brown, Sharon Schneider, Karen Hill, Marge Brood, Faith Bowers, Lisa Schneider, Laurie Harmon, Vicki Adamson, Janice Weeks, Anne McKinney, Betty Crawford. Back row: Matt Olsen, Bob Christensen, Don Weaver, Myron Mohr, Jeff Goode, Larry Castle, Bob Hill, Doug Birkeland, PJ Resare, Barb Kirwan, Barb Kendall, Keith Murphy, Tony Crawford, Duane Weeks, Todd Gary.

2020: Club weathers the COVID-19 pandemic by holding ZOOM meetings, although cancellation of the Clackamas County Fair resulted in cancellation of the annual Kiddie Capers Parade. However, the club worked out a way to provide food and toys for Christmas 2020, despite quarantine and social distancing measures.

2022: Club celebrates five years of sponsoring Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library with a “Dolly Llama Party” in Wait Park. In its first five years Canby Kiwanis provided 38,420 books to about 1,600 children in the Canby School District. As of June of 2022, 800 children were receiving free books each month, and another 841 children had “graduated” from the program by turning 5.

2022: Canby Kiwanis Thrift Store celebrated its 50th anniversary in October.

2023: Kiwanis Club of Canby, through its Canby Kiwanis Foundation, supported a major expansion of The Canby Center with $50,000 towards this multi-million-dollar project. The expansion will allow for an expanded food pantry, and the addition of classrooms, offices, job search resources, meal service and clothing assistance.