The Victoria Gyro Club’s legacy lives on in the namesake park that is the gem of Cadboro Bay.
And as the club celebrates its centennial this year, it remains focused on socializing, learning and giving back to the community where they can.
“It’s really about fun and friendship,” said new president Stephen Ingle, an 18-year Gyro member who led an online celebration of the 100th anniversary on April 5.
When he and his wife moved here from Salt Spring Island 22 years ago, they had many business connections but few, social contacts.
“In this day and age, and we’re noticing it with COVID especially, people who are moving to this general area are finding it very difficult to find a group of people just for friendship,” Ingle said. “Gyro is a wonderful conduit for that.”
He recently asked several senior club members to list their favourite Gyro experiences. Without exception, he said, the fun, friendship and camaraderie were highlights, along with members’ support of each other and their families in times of need.
While Gyro was formed as a men’s club and continues as such, Ingle said members’ partners play an active role in creating the social fabric of the club, as well as enjoying their own gatherings.
Public health restrictions prevent the club’s bi-weekly dinner and guest speaker meetings, and coffee get-togethers, but members continue to meet online.
Through the decades, the club has fundraised for various projects, including providing equipment to the Children’s Foundation of Vancouver Island and the Island Prostate Centre. Ingle notes members are under no obligation to raise funds or volunteer.
The club’s biggest and longest-lasting initiative is Gyro Park.
Under president Wilf McGregor in 1953, the club acquired 4.4 acres from the estate of Mary Goward. In 1954, after members prepped the marshy waterfront property, the club donated it to Saanich for what would become known as Cadboro Bay Gyro Park. The seawall was completed that summer and Gyro volunteers helped finish the park. Two members with construction skills built the original bath house and caretaker’s quarters.
The park remains popular with families, with its sea monster sculptures, upgraded playground and beach access.
The Victoria group has roughly 50 members and is one of three Gyro clubs in the region, spawning the Camosun club a number of years back, and more recently a Sidney contingent.
Seeing the Gyro International Convention it planned to host in 2020 cancelled due to COVID restrictions was disappointing, Ingle said. With meeting in person on hold for the foreseeable future, he still envisions brighter days ahead as members continue to support each other in the spirit of friendship and camaraderie.