History of Civitan in Canada

Civitan was first introduced to Canada on May 16, 1925 with the charter of the Hamilton Civitan Club.  Members of this first club were representative of a cross section of community life, however the majority of the members were returned veterans of World War I and were inclined to stress the companionship of the armed forces without the discipline.  The Civitan affiliation was shed less than two years later.  Civitan was firmly re-established in Canada on January 29, 1932 when the Toronto Civitan Club received its charter.

On July 1, 1949, Canadian Civitan clubs became the Ontario District.  Ernie Moore (1953-1954) was the first Governor of this new District and went on to become the first President of Civitan International from outside of the United States. William (Bill) R. Hiscott (2004-2005) was only the second Canadian to serve as the President of Civitan International.

On July 1, 1954, we shed the Ontario District name, having chartered our first club in Quebec on January 10, 1954.  David Urquhart was named the first Governor of the newly formed Ontario-Quebec District.  Civitan in Canada continued to grow, adding clubs in Scarborough, Sarnia, Port Credit, Oshawa, Richmond Hill, Oakville, Victoria Village, Burlington, Lakeshore, Cornwall and Pembroke.

Those early clubs served Civitan well.  Today the oldest active Civitan Club in Canada is the Don Mills Civitan Club, chartered October 21, 1953.  Of these early clubs, only Don Mills, Oakville and Victoria Village remain active in Canadian District West.  Lakeshore and Pembroke are still active, viable clubs in Canadian District East.

On July 1, 1961, the Canadian District was formed under the direction of Governor  J.R. Pearsall.  During the next four years Civitan grew at an unprecedented rate.  On July 1, 1965, Canadian District East and Canadian District West became a zone of Civitan International.  Gord Bates was named the first vice-president of this newly created zone.

A line was drawn between the westerly limits of the cities of Kingston and Mattawa.  Canadian District East was comprised of the territory in the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec east of that line and Canadian District West included all of the territory in Ontario west of the line.

Val Chartier was elected the first Governor of Canadian District East which consisted of 10 clubs with a total of 229 members.   Gerry King was the first Governor of Canadian District West which included 20 clubs with a total of 522 members.

In 1982, due to restructuring at Civitan International, zones became regions and Canadian District East and Canadian District West formed Region 5 of Civitan International.  Regional Conventions are held each  year in September, alternating between the East and West Districts.  In 1988, the border between Canadian Districts East and West was moved westward to the westerly limits of Trenton rather than Kingston.

The first International Convention outside of the United States was held in Toronto on June 24-27, 1934.  International Conventions have been held in Toronto three other times; June 16-18, 1948; June 18-21, 1961 and July 17-20, 1994.  Montreal hosted a Civitan International Convention from June 29 to July 2, 1969.  July 2002  marked the first time that Ottawa would be the site of a Civitan International Convention.

The most prestigious award presented by Civitan International, the Founder’s Award, emblematic of the most outstanding Civitan Club in the world, has been presented four times to clubs in Region 5.  The first time was to the Agincourt Civitan Club for their work in the 1992-1993 year and to the Civitan Club of Perth for the 1997-1998, 1999-2000 years and again for the 2000-2001 year.  At the Civitan International Convention held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in July 1999, Canadian District East was recognized as the top district in all of Civitan International.

There are, currently, thirty-one Civitan Clubs in Region 5.   Fourteen are located in Canadian District West and seventeen are in Canadian District East.