Our Founding Fathers

During this “Leave a Legacy” month, we thought we’d go off the topic of Planned Giving, to talk about a different kind of legacy. Specifically, we wanted to talk about the legacy left by our Founding Fathers.

Our story begins in 1920 with Hal Rogers, in Hamilton, Ontario. A veteran of WWI, he missed the comraderie in service of the Army and so started “the Association of Kinsmen Clubs of Canada”, a service club for men. Down the road, the wives of the Kinsmen got involved and they became known as Kinettes. The organization is now known as Kin Canada and has over 400 clubs across Canada.

To learn more you can go to the Kin Canada website, view the “Milk for Britain” video, their funny commercial or their Centennial Documentary.

In 1928 the Kinsmen Club of Saskatoon was formed. Some of their more well-known projects include Kinsmen Park (1947), Kinsmen Arena (1967), and Kinsmen Home Lottery (1979).

One of their members, Peter Killburn, is credited as leading the team who started the Kinsmen Foundation. The creation of the Kinsmen Foundation was approved at the Kinsmen and Kinette District Convention in 1971. Its two main goals were to first, provide fellowship and service for the Kinsmen and Kinettes, on a provincial basis. Prior to that all clubs just did their own projects in their communities. Second, was to provide funding to anyone in the province who had a physical, mental, or social disability and couldn’t get funding from any other source.

Peter Kilburn, was Governor of the District that year and became the first Chairman of the Kinsmen Foundation Board of Directors. At first the idea of starting the Kinsmen Foundation was not a popular one. Peter and his executives went around the province, speaking with the various clubs, to increase support for the project.

A few years later, it became apparent that the need for funding surpassed what the clubs were able to provide, so in 1975 discussions began to find a way to raise more money. After months of research, it was decided that they would put on a telethon. Urban Donlevy, another member of the Kinsmen Club of Saskatoon, was appointed as the Chairman of the first organizing committee and after thousands of hours of work, the first TeleMiracle took place on February 5th to 6th, 1977.

Forty five telethons later, alternating between North and South (Saskatoon and Regina), with amateur talent selected from throughout Saskatchewan, TeleMiracle is still going strong, thanks to the support of the Kinsmen & Kinettes of in the province, and the wonderful people of Saskatchewan!

To hear from Peter and Urban, check out the interview with Peter Kilburn in 2016 for TeleMiracle 40, as well as the speech made by Urban Donlevy, with introduction by Peter Kilburn that was recorded during a Christmas Party in 2007.

Don’t forget to visit our Virtual Museum at https://telemiracle.com/virtual-museum/

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