No-one could have imagined back in 1979 as a few pals sat around having a cold one (or two), and started talking about doing something for the Ottawa sporting community at the amateur level, that more than three decades later, some guys barely into their teens back then, would have stepped up to continue what has become a staple in the Ottawa sporting community. Or that the Ottawa Nepean Canadians Sports Club Inc. would be moving into its fourth decade of service to the community on such solid footing and sound principles, the very same principles that led to the formation of the Sports Club, initially to help out some friends in local baseball, and later to help as many as possible.
The Club was built on two basic principles. One, that everybody’s a volunteer. And two, that the goal should be to further amateur sports in the Ottawa area. There’s no salaries or honorariums paid around here. That's what the original seven founding directors of the Club Bruce Hamilton, Gordon Hamilton, Brian Boston, Fred Wigney, all deceased, and Bob Elliott, Ray Fortier and Ken Neirenhausen all set out to do and while every organization has its ups and downs, the tradition of the Club has endured as its foundation.
The Sports Club started with a debt of $4,500 and now annually donates in excess of $100,000 to area amateur sports groups and individuals and sports programs, which makes the total amount donated over 30-odd years somewhere in the $3 million range. Gord Hamilton, the club president until his passing in late 1993 would be proud: "I think maybe those of us who were involved from the start had some expectations for what we wanted to accomplish" said Hamilton back in the late 1980s. "But certainly no one could have forecast just how far we would come. It’s been really gratifying to be a part of the growth. Money is often times difficult for groups to raise and we’ve been fortunate through hard work to have come up with means to help them raise it. Over the years, we’ve not always been able to give the total amount of what's been asked for by various groups. There's just not that much money around. But we've tried to be fair and help every group as much as we could."
The tradition continues.
It just doesn't seem possible that the beginnings, 30-odd years ago, were weekly meetings held over lunch, and often extended well into the afternoon, where courses of action were mapped with fund-raising a pivotal area. The Sports Club, long before the establishment of 1125 Cobden, got its first big break through bingo. One night a week, the seven, along with anyone else they could cajole into assisting, could be seen sweating it out at the steamy Nepean Convention Center where they staged the bingo. Not exactly what you plan for a big night out with the boys. Soon charter directors were added and the board grew.
Gradually, it evolved into what it is today and St. Patrick’s Day 1983 was a momentous day for the Sports Club. That day marked the official opening of the Sports Club's Lounge in Ottawa's West end. The establishment has witnessed numerous great times and serves as an outstanding fundraiser for the club. Initial hopes were for a membership of about 300. Any worries that figure could not be met were quickly dispelled when better than 500 people paid annual fees of $25.00 to join. This, before the front door of the Lounge ever opened. Membership, which includes people from all walks of life, peaked at 914 and now is comfortably consistent at slightly more than 300, that original objective.
To another 30 years.