Elks Hall’s last show marks end of an era

HO HO HO, ELKS HALL’S LAST SHOW – Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus are pictured here taking a break outside in the sunshine at the Elks Hall during the annual Visit with Santa Claus luncheon. The Elks Hall has since been sold to Pugh’s Sand and Gravel, and the members of Killarney Elks Lodge #238 will in future be meeting uptown at the Royal Canadian Legion #25 Killarney premises – and continuing their good works there.

Killarney Elks Hall #238 sold after 50 years


After a difficult year of discussion and argument, the local Elks Hall property was quietly sold off this month.

It marks a half-century of history for the building on Fletcher Street, purchased back in 1967, and also reflects the changing dynamics of service clubs nationwide.

And in the end, it came down to simple finances.

“We were paying too much in costs,” said Marilyn Dunlop, the exalted ruler of the Killarney Elks Lodge #238. “We were $2,500 a year in the red. Four of us went to a conference in June, and it came up then. They were talking about Elks clubs being ‘hall-poor.’ The four of us decided to go back and discuss it.”

Dunlop said the members, which number around 50, talked about ways to deal with the shortfall. It was not easy to find a solution, she said.

“We knew it was losing money; we just hadn’t done the figures,” she said. “They were bigger than we thought. Our taxes went up $400 a year, hydro keeps spiralling, there’s telephone and water, a dumpster, and insurance to pay.”

That’s when the talks turned to selling the building.

“It was contentious,” she said. “There was no doubt about it. We voted on it in October; 27 members voted. We needed two-thirds to pass it, and we got two-thirds plus one.”

And on November 29, without hitting the market, the Elks struck a deal, and the hall was purchased by neighbouring business, Pugh’s Sand and Gravel.

Possession date was slated for December 1, not long after the Elk’s held their last Visit with Santa and luncheon at the hall.

But it is by no means the end of the Killarney Elks, and the beneficial work that they do.

In a broad stroke of financial savvy, the members will continue their charity work and to meet together, just a few blocks westwards – at the local Legion.

Royal Canadian Legion #25 Killarney, like many other Legions in the country, has also been struggling to pay their bills.

One way to help with this is by increasing their hall and clubroom rentals, they said earlier this year.

And that could be a perfect fit with the migrating Elks.

“We checked around for prices, and the Legion made a good offer,” said Dunlop. “We will be renting by the event there, instead of paying bills. Our new costs will now be one-half of what our annual hydro bill was at the Elks Hall. Hopefully this will help benefit them too.”

And the first event will be the Elk’s Christmas party for their members, to be held on December 17 in the Legion Clubroom.

Dunlop, who joined the once fraternal-only Elks 14 years ago, said she had a few sleepless nights, worrying over the huge decision.

“There are very few Elks clubs in Manitoba who still own their own halls,” she said. “It’s not that donations are going down. It’s the cost of operating a hall, and generating income from hall rentals these days. Times have changed, and we have to change with it.”

The Killarney Elks contribute to the local community in several ways, and also fundraise with numerous events.

These include the Santa Claus Luncheon, a pancake breakfast at the Killarney Ag Fair, the spring Butterfly bake sale and luncheon, a sweepstake draw, running the concession at the harness races, and a walkathon.

They also offer four scholarships/bursaries to Killarney School students, plus two achievement awards.

And during the coming Scotties event in January, you will find them running the bar.

In addition, a strong focus of the Elks is their commitment to helping children with hearing disabilities and deafness.

“I liked what the Elks do to help children, and their community involvement, ” said Dunlop, who is now in her second year as exalted ruler. “That’s why I joined. And that’s why we will be continuing.”


QUALITY TIME WITH THE BIG GUY – Santa spends some quality time with the kids (below) during his final appearance at the Killarney Elks Hall.