Club Projects

Dispensario Medico Huecorio - The Mexico-Merrickville Connection

The Merrickville Lions, in collaboration with the Merrickville and District Community Health Centre, have helped in the delivery of medical services to indigenous people living along the shores of Lake Patzcuaro, in the state of Michoacan, in Mexico. This has become a very special initiative. We are thrilled that our own Lions Kristina Hales and Paul Carr presented us with the opportunity to help.

For several years Kristina and Paul have wintered in central Mexico, living and interacting with local residents there. Fluent in Spanish, they have developed close friendships with local villagers and gained a first-hand understanding of the strengths and needs of the area. So when they asked their fellow Lions to help in providing care to indigenous people residing over 3500 kms. from Merrickville, there was never any doubt. We were confident we were making an important contribution, that our donation would be spent where it was most needed, and that it would go directly toward meeting the needs of local people.

Kristina and Paul headed for Mexico in early December 2010, with their van filled to the brim with Canadian supplies. Originally the supplies contributed by the Merrickville and District Community Health Centre, and the "money for medicine" donated by the Lions were targeted for a medical clinic in Tunguitiro, a small mountain village in Michoacan, operated by Dr. Luis Jiminez. He, and his sister, Dr. Yanira Jiminez, provide care to the area's indigenous people, as did their late father Dr. Jose Jimenez. However, on arriving, Kristina and Paul soon learned that plans were in the works for the development of a rural medical dispensary near the village of Huecorio, located along the shores of Lake Patzcorio in the state of Michoacan. Lake Patzcuaro is one of the world's highest lakes. Its surrounding area, a land of immense natural beauty, is dotted by dozens of villages which are home to the area's indigenous people. More than 1000 indigenous people live near and around Huecorio. Most were receiving no medical services. So a dispensary, well-stocked with medical supplies and medications, would meet a great need.

Through the efforts of Dr. Luiz Jimenez and his colleagues and supporters, the dispensary in Huecorio officially opened on Saturday February 26,2011. At its entrance a colourful blue banner with the Lions International emblem emblazoned on it reads, in Spanish: "Medical Dispensary of Huecorio.....Free Consultation..... Open Saturday and Sunday 10:00 am until 2:00 pm...Merrickville Lions #14644". The plan is for three doctors to work at the dispensary, with two working at any one time. Operation hours may expand, depending on funding.

Seeing this new facility was a very emotional experience for Kristina and Paul. "we cried," Paul unabashedly reports. " Most of the indigenous people work hard, six days a week. Some finish work early on Saturday afternoon; Sunday is their day off. Still, the cost of going to see a doctor in a hospital - the equivalent of us paying $200 - prevented many, mostly Purepecha Indians, from seeking medical attention. Now, they can receive services - medical consultations and initial medications - for free.  It's a great incentive for taking care of your health and your family's.

"The outreach location, operation hours, and no-cost consultation make it a much-needed, accessible and personalized resource," Kristina and Paul add, enthusiastically. In May 2011 Kristina and Paul received word from Dr. Luis Jiminez that the dispensary was now open 7 days a week.

Merrickville Library

"Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest."

 -- Lady Bird Johnson

On November 15, 2006, the Lions of Merrickville made an offer to purchase the former headquarters of the Canadian Recreational Canoe Association (CRCA). The Lions believed this spacious, log and open beam building which overlooked the Rideau Canal and the Merrickville Fairgrounds, would make an ideal spot for a new library.  The entire process - from the Lions’ original vision, through to the Club’s offer to purchase, presentations to our municipal council, meetings with lawyers, inspectors, insurance agents and members of the library board - certainly presented its challenges. But the process also reinforced the importance of community-based initiatives.

On June 6, 2008, the "new" Merrickville Library was officially opened at its new site which was purchased by the Lions Club of Merrickville. On Sept. 16, 2009, having paid off the mortgage, the Lions marked the occasion by hosting a party on the grounds of the library. As emcee Lion Jack Jessop stated, this was the biggest project the Club had ever undertaken. And its successful conclusion was indeed an occasion for community celebration.

The official ceremonies included congratulatory words from Mayor Doug Struthers and Lions District A4 1st Vice-Governor Andy Etherington. Librarian Mary Kate Laphen summarized the impact of the new library: by the end of 2008, membership was up 23% from 2007; after a year in the new building, library visits had increased 15%, and, circulation of materials had increased 20% (from where they both were the year before the move). In addressing those gathered, Lions President Jim Jordan recapped the history of this project and acknowledged all the groups and community members who helped make the vision of a new library a reality.

Following a mortgage burning ceremony, the library "key" was officially handed over to Mayor Doug Struthers, and a commemorative plaque was unveiled. Hot dogs, drinks and a cake, shaped in the form of an open book, were then served.

Lions Campground

Opened from May 1st to September 30th, the Lions Campground is located along the Rideau Canal in the historic village of Merrickville, within easy walking distance of shops, pubs, restaurants, churches (United, Catholic and Anglican) and a grocery store. The 36 available spots include ones with full service (30 amp and 20 amp)  and some without electricity. On-site facilities include washrooms and showers, a dumping station and a paved boat ramp (no dock), which can accommodate boats up to 26 ft. in length. Campground revenue has served as a major source of funding for the Clubs’ various initiatives. For more information about the campground or to make reservations, phone 1-613-269-3702 or e-mail

Christmas Hampers

Each Christmas Season the Lions deliver about 50 hampers, containing turkeys, non-perishable food items, toiletries and toys, to over 50 households in Merrickville-Wolford. With the assistance of the Merrickville District Health Centre, Merrickville Legion, Merrickville Firefighters, RBC Royal Bank in Merrickville, and Canada Post, along with donations from individuals, families and local groups and businesses, the hamper drive continues to be a very special tradition in our community.


Organized and hosted by the Lions, Canalfest is our community's annual celebration of the heritage of the Rideau Canal. This year's festivities take place on the August Long Weekend, from Sat., July 30 to Mon., August 1, 2011, at Blockhouse Park. Merrickville is a great port of call any time of the year, but Canalfest is an especially terrific time to come visit. Planned activities this year include:

  • Fine Craft Show & Sale:  featuring handcrafted jewellery, painting, photography, wood carvings, everything from birdhouses to breadboxes, handcrafted natural soaps to homemade honey to delectable dips, and other gourmet foods.
  • Ongoing Live Musical Entertainment
  • Voyageur Canoe Races: Villagers and visitors alike can a team and navigate their way down the Canal for some great cash prizes. Prize awards will be $100 for 1st place, $90, for 2nd place, and $60 for 3rd place. A prize of $50 will also be awarded to the best-costumed team. Canoes, life jackets and an on-board expert canoe instructor will be provided. You can enter your team of six paddlers for free. Registration forms are available on-line.
  • Saturday Silent Auction: Bid on valuable, goods, goodies and gift certificates donated by merchants, restaurants, and other businesses in the Merrickville area.
  • Children’s activities: The traditional and always terrific Kids Loonie Fishing Derby will be held on Saturday from 9:00 am to noon. Lines, lure and lots of fun will be provided. Kids Minnow Races take place on Sunday afternoon.
  • The Model Boat Display can be viewed throughout the weekend in the canal basin. Put on by the Rideau Nautical Modellers, the display featured radio-controlled boats, ships and submarines and includes opportunities for kids of all ages to engage in some hands-on navigating.
  • Other events and activities include historic exhibits and demonstrations, live musical entertainment, a "Walk the Plank" performance hosted by the Friends of the Rideau, a BOATSmart Canada Exhibit and Lions’ Barbecue. 

 Lions Food Booth

In keeping with the Lions’ goal to be involved in the community, and to have fun doing so, the Club operates a food concession during community summer events. As well as Canalfest, you can look for the Lions Booth during the annual community-wide garage sale, (the first Saturday in May) Canada Day (July 1) festivities at Blockhouse Park and the Merrickville Agricultural Fair in August. 

You can also spot the Lions serving up helpings of complimentary hot cider and good cheer at Christmas in Merrickville, the village's annual kick-off to the Holiday Season.  

Other Community Support  

In 2009, the Lions donated $2000 to the Merrickville & District Chamber of Commerce. This gift was used as contest prize money awarded to business owners and residents who enhanced the appearance of their properties through floral displays and plants. The Club also assists youth organizations, such as the scouts and guides, has established an annual high school scholarship program, and provides support to local elementary schools. As well as taking on the responsibility of organizing Canalfest, the Lions are also major sponsors of other community events, including  Christmas in Merrickville and the Snowflake Festival in February. 


Lions Clubs International News
Connect with Us Online