The Elks of Canada, officially known as the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks of Canada, was created by an Act of Parliament on September 26, 1912. (One of only two in Canada with the other being the Royal Canadian Legion)
The Order started in British Colombia under the leadership of his Honour Charles Redeker. The first Lodge was created in Vancouver, with the 2nd being in Victoria, and the 3rd being in New Westminster.
Elkdom then spread like wildfire with Lodges following in Calgary, Nelson, Medicine Hat, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Regina, Winnipeg, Brandon and on into Ontario to Fort Frances. Edmonton Lodge followed then Napanee, East Toronto, Toronto Lansdowne, Toronto St. Clair, Trenton, Sudbury, Parry Sound, Woodstock, Collingwood, Niagara Falls, Cobalt with North Bay coming into the fold on April 17th, 1914 with 58 members being initiated to start the Lodge.
There is not much recorded about the early years in North Bay although we do know that the Elks owned at building at 42 Worthington St. The effects of the Depression reduced the Lodge to 8 members and they voted to dissolve the Lodge in December 1934. The City took over the building for unpaid taxes.
On August 21st,1953, the Lodge was re-instituted and quickly grew to over 75 members.
The meetings were held in various locations and a need for a permanent home grew. The Elks acquired property on the outskirts of North Bay (Barker St near Trout Lake Rd and the bypass) and began a Building Fund. The current building was commenced in 1959 and completed in 1960 using mostly volunteer labour. The first two wedding to take place in the Halls were for Elk members and both couples are still members of the Elks.
Notable members of the Lodge include former Mayor Merle Dickerson who was a Charter member. Also included is Eugene Souliere and Romeo Renaud who were responsible for the formation of the Ontario Elks Association.
The Elks have a long history of benevolence and sharing with the Community, sponsoring youth sports, and helping those less fortunate. The Elks sponsored the former Elks Boys Choir and also created the Elks Playground that they maintained for many years.
Their first major commitment was to underwrite the salary of a teacher for the local, as it was known then, Mentally Retarded and Handicapped Society. After two years of doing this, they assisted in generating funds to build the West Bayfield School (now part of the Association for Community Living) which they continue to support today.
The Elks are comprised of men and women who are 100% volunteers who work bingos, cribbage, draws, and many other events to raise funds to sponsor kids, help those less fortunate and in general, to make life sweeter for all.
As well, the Elks own the building at 325 Elks Lane where they rent the halls for social functions such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, retirements, etc. They also serve the Community by providing space for Community non-profit groups.
In the past 5 years, the Elks of North Bay have contributed over $ 214,000 back to the Community, in support of their own National Registered Charity- the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children. $ 84,000 has gone to Community Projects, $ 39,000 to local sponsorships, and $ 33,000 to needy individuals.