On February 20, 1920, Hal Rogers and 11 men gathered for a meeting at the Namking Cafe in Hamilton. This group formed the first club in our organization – The Kinsmen Club of Hamilton.
These men found that fellowship alone was not sufficient to sustain a continued interest and decided to perpetuate the ideal of service in peace time as they had done in the war years; thus our organization became a service organization. During the next 4 years, members from this initial club moved and formed additional clubs in Montreal, Winnipeg, and Vancouver, giving the organization a foothold from Montreal to the West Coast.
At a National convention in Winnipeg in the summer of 1926 the course of Kinsmen became more clear. After a hotly debated session, it was decided Kinsmen would be become a National rather than International Service club, and a new Constitution and By-laws were presented and adopted. Additionally, the maximum age limit for active membership was fixed at forty years. An important factor in setting this age restriction was to convince four “Eclectic Clubs” of Saskatchewan to join our Association. A prominent member of the Eclectic Clubs was John Diefenbaker, who championed the argument for the age restriction. There is presently no age restriction on active membership.During the great depression the Association grew both in numbers of members and clubs and began to become structurally organized into provincial districts and a national executive.
During World War II Kinsmen served their country and supplied the British army with its first mobile dental clinic. The national project during the war years was the “Milk for Britain” campaign, during which the Association shipped over 50 million quarts of milk to Britain’s children.
After the war, the Association continued to grow and adopt even more ambitious projects. In 1949, the Association set up a Cancer Scholarship Fund to help train doctors in treating this disease. Assistance to flood and hurricane victims in our country and abroad further demonstrated Kinsmen’s commitment to its ideals.
By being dedicated to fellowship and service, the Association grew to over three hundred clubs and ten thousand members by 1956. The Association experienced continual growth and expansion up until late 1970.
The founder of our Association is H.A. (Hal) Rogers. Founder Hal was born in London, Ontario on January 3, 1899. For a time he worked in a bank before moving to Hamilton to take up employment in his father’s plumbing sales business.
Hal returned to Canada in 1919 along with thousands of his fellow soldiers. After re-entering the plumbing business, Hal applied for membership in the Rotary Club, but was rejected because the club already had a member who was in the plumbing business, namely Hal’s father.
What was Rotary’s loss was our gain. Hal decided to start his own service club. As young Hal saw it, men should preserve in peace the ideal of service to Canada. Encouraged by his father, Hal invited 11 young men to the Namking Cafe in Hamilton to start the first Kinsmen Club.The first Kinsmen meeting was held on February 20, 1920 and from there the Association grew. Hal served as President from 1920-1923. He kept his interest in the Association in spite of moving to Toronto and starting his own career as the owner of a publishing house.
During World War II, Hal chaired the Kinsmen “Assistance for Britain” committee and was instrumental in the “Milk for Britain” campaign. After World War II, he received a great honor on behalf of the Association; he was made an “Officer of the British Empire”. In 1959 former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker presented him with his Life Membership in the Association. In 1980, Hal was made a member of the Order of Canada.
The life of our Canadian nation has been enriched by the idea of Kin, as fostered by our Founder, Hal Rogers O.C., O.B.E.