The Elks organisation in Canada was founded in 1912 and incorporated into a special Dominion of Canada Charter. The first lodge was established in Vancouver, British Columbia, but their officers and members expanded the Elks organisation across the country. An Elks organisation had flourished in the USA before 1912. While the Elks of Canada are not affiliated with the American Elks, they share a common history and enjoy a friendly relationship.
The Manitoba Elks Association formally received its Charter in 1927. There were nine lodges at the time of founding: Winnipeg #10, Brandon #14, Russell #20, Souris #21, Portage la Prairie #32, Dauphin #57, Minnedosa #68, Winnipegosis #108 and finally The Pas #135 which had been instituted on August 5, 1926 with 14 officers, listed below, plus 26 general members.
G.A. Williams as Past Exalted Ruler
P.A. Walton as Exalted Ruler
H.G. Tipping as Lecturing Knight
C. Puttick as Loyal Knight
W.B. McLellan as Leading Knight
L.P. Tallion as Secretary
W.H. Bunting as Treasurer
J.W. Rundle as Esquire
W.F. Graham as Inner Guard
E.R. Materson as Tyler
E.S. Dickson as Chaplain
G.C. McLelland as Trustee
R.D. Orok as Trustee
L. Allard as Trustee
Originally the club was located at 410 Fischer Ave, which included a main hall, kitchen, and washrooms. In the early 1980s, an addition was built onto that building which included offices, clubrooms plus a game room.
The Pas Elks Club was active in the local community with a focus on children’s activities. They maintained a children’s playground next to their original building. Current Little League Baseball players can thank the local Elks for starting the local league as one of many activities for children in the community. Members of Lodge #135 also had various chairmen. Positions on committees went to work towards the creation of the exhibition grounds just outside of town. Every July 1 the club would hold a sports day as an accompaniment to the carnivals and gatherings that they held throughout the year. During the early years, they would hold annual shows and parties during the holiday season. They would give out candies and presents to children and those in need in the surrounding area. During the point of highest membership of the club, they regularly sponsored candidates for the Fur Queen competition (a popular event during the Northern Manitoba Trappers’ Festival) as well as sponsoring minor league hockey, figure skating, Girl Guides, the Marigold Preschool Centre, student bursaries, air cadets and many other community activities.
In 1946, The Pas Lodge had the honour of hosting the provincial conference with the minutes showing Cece Pooles as President with Fred Haney as Grand Exalted Ruler. It was at this conference that the Junior Elks Club was established in Portage la Prairie. Significant changes in the constitution and trustee by-laws, as well as an increase in the per capita fee to twenty-five cents per member, was passed during this conference.
In 1949, The Pas was chosen as “town of the week” in a national competition by Ogilvie Flour Mills. The Elks Lodge #135 was given a $100 prize for its community involvement. That same year, The Pas Lodge won both the Stark Trophy for Provincial Ritual Supremacy and the Gad Gillam Provincial Trophy for lodge efficiency and service. This was only one of the many occasions that the lodge had won each of these trophies. At the lodge’s 25th Anniversary in 1951, it was announced that the lodge had commissioned their third children’s playground.
At the 44th National Convention held in Sherbrooke, Quebec in 1956, Resolution #11 was submitted by the Manitoba Elks Association calling for the establishment of the Elks Purple Cross Fund. The Pas has the distinction of being responsible for the creation of the Fund as the motion to establish it originated with Eric Wadelius of Lodge #135 The Pas. The resolution states:
The Manitoba Elks Association recommends to Grand Lodge that it establish a Fund to receive for Canadian Children or otherwise, as designated by the contributor, contributions for its National Objective, The Canadian Save the Children Fund, and to remit such funds, from time to time to the National Office of The Canadian Save the Children Fund. That the Fund be named the “Elks Purple Cross Fund”. That the National Office administer the granting of assistance to approved beneficiaries under the supervision of the Grand Lodge. That the purple cross is adopted as the symbol of the Fund and if possible to be copyrighted.
Unfortunately the Lodge’s early records, most of its history, plus the building itself were lost in a fire on January 1, 1987. The lot was then sold with another one purchased at 1515 Gordon Avenue. A new, larger building officially opened on November 21, 1987, as the new Elks Hall, being dedicated May of 1988. In the mid-2000s it was sold to the Manitoba Métis Federation and is now called The Pas Métis Federation Hall.
Members of Lodge #135 held prominent positions in the larger Elks organisation. Besides one Grand Exalted Ruler, Adam Deminick, The Pas Lodge has been the home of three Manitoba Elks Association Presidents: J. L. Charboneau, who served from 1948 to 1949, E. Wadelius in 1958 and A. Deminick in 1962.
Adam Deminick joined The Pas Lodge #135 in 1946. He progressed through the various chairs becoming Exalted Ruler in 1955 and 1956. Following his tenure in this esteemed position, he entered the Manitoba Elks Association as Inner Guard in 1957. Following that, he became District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler for Manitoba District #3 in 1958. Later still, he held the position of Provincial President for the Manitoba Elks Association in 1961. That same year, he became the Grand Lodge Historian before moving on to Grand Trustee in 1962 and then Grand Loyal Knight in 1963. He was elected Grand Exalted Ruler for the 1965-1966 term at the convention in Lethbridge, Alberta.
The 1964 convention in Thompson was hosted by a lodge just two years old, in a town only five years old that had only one hotel and no road access. Most delegates were billeted in members’ homes and tasted northern living, as forest fires were burning all around the town. All business was completed, however, and many still remember that convention. There was a total of 43 Lodges instituted in Manitoba, but not all active at the same time. This total had been reduced to 33 active Lodges in 1987.
Through the years, the Manitoba Elks Association has been involved in promoting and sponsoring the following activities: an annual provincial bonspiel; provincial curling play-offs; ritualistic competitions between lodges; lodge performance competitions for attendance, Purple Cross donations, membership increase and community services; roaming elk to encourage lodge visitations; and various Elk-a-thons which set a record contribution of $36,000 in 1986.
In 1978, the Association established the Manitoba Elks Foundation, which operates a lottery through the sale of certificates to provide funds for charitable donations. The funds assist children in the province and it also provides the lodges that sell the certificates with an income. The Foundation has donated $47,000 to a variety of organizations for children throughout the province.
The 1987 Manitoba Elks Association convention celebrated their 60-year anniversary in Russell, Manitoba. There were 17 past presidents in attendance, recognized for their dedication to the order in a special ceremony. The highlights of this convention were: a panoramic pictorial view of 60 years of Elkdom in Manitoba, the parade to the cenotaph which was held in conjunction with the local community agriculture parade, plus the big birthday party that recognized 75 years of Elkdom in Canada, 60 years for the Association, and 60 years for the Russell Lodge #20.
While The Pas Elks are no longer active, the impacts the Elks made to The Pas are still felt by many.
Text produced by Sam Waller Museum staff.