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Serving Calgary for over 80 years

Optimist International is recognized worldwide as the premier volunteer organization that values all youth and helps them develop to their full potential.

Optimist Clubs are grouped into Districts. The Optimist Club of Calgary is part of the Alberta, Montana, Saskatchewan and Northern Wyoming (AMSNW) District 13 and the Southern Alberta Zone (Zone 6).

The Optimist Club of Calgary has brought out the best in Calgary’s youth, our community and ourselves since we were chartered in 1938. Clubs in Calgary and area support each other’s projects and fund-raising events. We have the culture of ensuring success for all Optimist Clubs and their projects.

Each club within Optimist International operates autonomously. Choice of Programs supported and fund-raising are at the discretion of each club. At the Optimist Club of Calgary, members pay a nominal annual membership fee. Members are welcome to be as active as they want – there is no attendance requirement. Members are encouraged to bring forward project and fund-raising activities for the Club to be involved with.

If you, or someone you know, has a pet project that needs support, we encourage you to join the Optimist Club of Calgary and present your project to the members. All suggestions are considered.

Optimist Club of Calgary history highlights

1911 First Optimist Club - As industrialization and urbanization brought many new problems to society, citizens began forming voluntary organizations to address the needs of their communities. In some areas, groups took the name “optimist club” to express their desire for a positive outlook in the face of all these problems. The first official Optimist Club was formed in Buffalo, New York, in 1911.

1919Formation of Optimist International - Times were good. World War I had been fought and won and spirits were high in America. It was an ideal time for the birth of Optimism. The association of clubs that is known today as Optimist International was formed on June 19, 1919, when representatives of 11 clubs held a convention in Louisville, Kentucky, and adopted the name International Optimist Club. During the convention, William Henry Harrison, a descendent of the ninth president of the United States bearing the same name, was elected the first International President of Optimist international.

1922 - The Optimist Creed was adopted as the official creed of the organization. Written by Christian Larson, the creed was originally published under the title “Promise Yourself” in 1912. It is a set of principles or values all Optimist members strive to achieve throughout their lifetime. 

January 1936 – Optimist International (OI) asked the Edmonton Alberta Optimist Club to set up a club in Calgary and other locations in Alberta.  At the time, OI was one of the largest service clubs in North America but there was virtually no presence in Western Canada other than the Edmonton club.  It took two years to form the first club in Calgary with the mandate to mentor “… fatherless boys and work with the authorities in the reduction of juvenile crime.” (Calgary Herald Article, January 10, 1936)

February 1938 – Formation of the Optimist Club of Calgary“Businessmen Form Calgary Optimist Club – Will Prevent Youth from Forming Criminal Habits” - Our club was sponsored by the Edmonton Alberta Optimist Club (now called the Edmonton Dinner Optimist Club). The charter was granted to our club on May 7, 1938. The population of Calgary was 85,700 when the club was chartered. (Calgary Herald Article, February 26th, 1938).

1938 – Optimist Club of Calgary establishes boys’ clubs in Ramsay and Haultain Schools using volunteer teachers and community members. They were called “Boys Town” and they offered a wide variety of educational programs including: hobby craft (leather, copper work, and woodworking), basketball, football, wrestling, gymnastics, public speaking, and first aid.

December 2nd, 1938 – Optimist Club of Calgary establishes first “Optimist Week.”  A monster carnival was held at the Al Azhar Temple with plenty of games, dancing, competitions, and many more forms of entertainment.  All proceeds from the carnival were used to support underprivileged boys. (Calgary Herald Article, December 2, 1938) 

1940’s - An ambitious suggestion was made during 1940 to provide a summer camp outside the city. However, funds were limited and so for many years, the Optimist Club of Calgary financially supported a number of boys to attend summer camps already in existence.  Also, very early in the history of the club oratorical contests were held and to this day they have provided scholarships to many students in Calgary.

1941 – A Superintendent was hired for Optimist “Boys Town” boys clubs and they were consolidated into the Ramsay school in Calgary with paid teachers. 

June 1944 – At an Optimist Club meeting, Crescent Heights High School Teacher John Laurie gave a presentation about discrimination against First Nations Communities in southern Alberta.  In particular, he was very concerned about the lack of access to health care, education, pension plans, and natural hunting grounds.  Club members were in full agreement that a modern policy surrounding basic rights was needed and offered the full support of the club in lobbying the Federal Government for changes to the Indian Act. (Calgary Herald Article, June 27, 1944)

Fall 1945 – With the support of the Optimist Club of Calgary and other local service clubs, John Laurie met with Federal Government officials in Ottawa to outline a number of changes that needed to be made due to the unfair treatment of First Nations Peoples in southern Alberta.  Over the next few years, significant changes where finally made to federal government programs giving First Nations People the same rights as white people.

February 6, 1947 – Optimist Club of Calgary sponsors its first music recital at Knox United Church in Calgary.  135 students performed in front of an audience of over 1,000 people. (Calgary Herald Article, February 6th, 1947)

June 22, 1950 – Optimist Club of Calgary raises $10,000 for a new ‘bath-house’ (change room) in Riley Park in Calgary.  Construction was completed in time to celebrate Calgary’s 75th Anniversary. (Calgary Herald Article, June 22nd, 1950) 

July 1950 – Optimist Club of Calgary sends a group of boys over 13 years of age to the YMCA’s Camp Chief Hector on Bowfort Lake, 30 miles east of Banff from August 6 to 13 (Calgary Herald Article, July 18, 1950)

January 16, 1960 – Optimist Clubs in Calgary offer “Oratorical Training” for boys between 12 and 15 years of age.  Three winners will compete at the district competition in Edmonton with the opportunity to move forward to the regional competition in Portland, Oregon. (Calgary Herald Article, January 16th, 1960)

March, 1960 – Optimist Club of Calgary sells Easter Candy Baskets door-to-door in various communities in Calgary.  Funds raised were used to support youth programming in Calgary.

May 15 to 22, 1960 – Optimist Clubs in Calgary offer bicycle training during Bike Safety Week - “Today’s Bike Riders Make Tomorrow’s Drivers” (Calgary Herald Article, May 15th, 1960)

February 1962 – A private member bill was introduced at the Federal Government House of Commons in Ottawa asking for a national youth appreciation week.  It was ultimately approved and Youth Appreciation Week was established in Canada.  While being identified as a private bill, the idea came from a member of the Optimist Club of Calgary.

June 26th, 1964 – Canadian Mental Health Association asks Optimist Club of Calgary members endorse a proposal for “New Psychiatric Services” for children who need it.  This includes increased funding for trained professionals who understand children’s mental health issues.  (Calgary Herald Article, June 26th, 1964) 

November 14 – 20, 1966 – Club hosts an “Optimist Week” and recognizes 34 young people at a gala dinner for their “outstanding leadership and superlative achievements in the fields of education, athletics, and culture.” (Calgary Herald Article, November 16th, 1966)

1971 – Club starts offering a Rifle Safety Course for youth which was held weekly in rifle ranges at the Calgary Police Station and Crescent Heights High School.

1976 - On June 23, 1976, the Optimist Club of Calgary along with the two other Optimist Clubs in the city raised the required funds and opened the Optimist Athletic Park in Southwest Calgary just off of Sarcee Trail SW. Maintenance of the park has since been taken over by the City of Calgary. There are two baseball diamonds and two ice hockey rinks in the complex. (Calgary Herald Article, June 23, 1976)

March 29th,2001 - the Optimist Club of Calgary recognized 24 members of the Calgary Fire Department Cadet Program at a special gala event for their outstanding service and personal achievement in their communities.  During their training, they learned various aspects of fire/rescue and medical training.  (Calgary Herald Article, March 29th, 2001)

May 4th, 1981 – During “Respect for Law Week”, Mayor Ralph Klein asked all citizens “…join the Optimist Club of Calgary in carrying the message and setting an example for responsible citizenship.” (Calgary Herald Article, May 4th, 1981)

May 24th, 2001 – “Posthumous Honour for City Policeman” – a City of Calgary policeman was honored posthumously by the Optimist Club of Calgary “Respect for Law” Gala Dinner. Constable John Petropoulos spent four years as an officer before his on-duty death investigating a break-in at a local business. (Calgary Herald Article, May 24th, 2001)

2002 – In partnership with the Alberta Curling Federation, the Optimist Club of Calgary created, hosted, and ran the first Under-18 curling competition. The Optimist Western Canadian Juvenile Championships included teams from Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories. The ultimate goal was to establish an Under-18 Canadian Curling Championship; which was realized in 2017 when Curling Canada hosted the inaugural Canadian U18 Curling Championship in Moncton, New Brunswick. The annual Curling Alberta Optimist U18 Championship is now sponsored by all Optimist Clubs in Alberta and is usually held from November through January each year.

2016 – In 2016 the Optimist Clubs in Calgary provided a significant donation for the construction and maintenance of an Optimist Young Artist Lounge within the TransAlta Performing Arts Studio on the Calgary Stampede Grounds. The grand opening was held on March 31st, 2017.  This 13,000-square-foot facility is home to The Young Canadians School of the Performing Arts and the Calgary Stampede Showband.  It is also used periodically by the Stetson Showband, Roundup Showband, and other performing arts groups.

November 29th, 2017 - the Optimist Club of Calgary presented their annual Festive Showcase at the Jubilee Auditorium.  Performances included: The Heebee-jeebees, Stetson Showband, Calgary Stampede Showband, St. Mary’s High School Concert Band, The Calgary Stampede Young Canadians, and Lord Beaverbrook High School Concert Choir (Calgary Herald Article, November 17th,2017) 

August 30, 2021 - the Collicutt Siding Golf Club in Crossfield, Alberta held a celebration announcing the opening of the Optimist L’il Loop. Members of the press, the Crossfield Mayor and Town Council Members, Alberta Golf, Airdrie Special Olympics, and Optimist Club Members attended the celebration. The Optimist L’il Loop is 3 par 3 holes that the Collicutt Siding Golf Club created just for the use of young golfers under 14 years of age. It is separate from the 18-hole golf course, and youngsters will be able to play on a first-come-first-play basis for just a $5/day fee. One day each week, only those with Special Needs will be able to play. The Optimist Club of Calgary, Dinner Optimist Club of Calgary and Airdrie Optimist Club made major donations towards the cost of creating L’il Loop. Each of the 3 holes has a sign recognizing one of the three Optimist Clubs. (Calgary Herald Article, August 30, 2021)

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Optimist International is recognized worldwide as the premier volunteer organization that values all youth and helps them develop to their full potential.

© 2022 Optimist Club of Calgary