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Charlottetown Kiwanis Club celebrates its 65th year operating its Victoria Park dairy bar

Basil Hambly holds an undated picture of the Kiwanis Dairy Bar. This summer marks the 65th anniversary of the Kiwanis Club operating the bar.
Basil Hambly holds an undated picture of the Kiwanis Dairy Bar. This summer marks the 65th anniversary of the Kiwanis Club operating the bar. - Michael Robar
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

This season marks 65 years since the Kiwanis Dairy Bar in Victoria Park in Charlottetown started bringing smiles to the faces of countless Islanders and tourists alike.

To mark the occasion, a small ribbon-cutting ceremony took place in front of the dairy bar, attended by P.E.I. Lt.-Gov. Antoinette Perry, Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown and Kiwanis Club president Douglas Coles.

Initially, a large celebration was planned, but, like most things this summer, things had to change due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), said dairy bar operator Basil Hambly.

“It’s a bit of a disappointment, but we’re still very happy that we’re open and we, along with all Islanders, are healthy and that’s the way we want to keep it.”

Mayor Philip Brown, left, Lieutenant Governor Antoinette Perry and Kiwanis Club president Douglas Coles celebrated the 65th anniversary of the Kiwanis Dairy Bar with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 14. - Michael Robar
Mayor Philip Brown, left, Lieutenant Governor Antoinette Perry and Kiwanis Club president Douglas Coles celebrated the 65th anniversary of the Kiwanis Dairy Bar with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 14. - Michael Robar

 

The remarkable milestone comes at a trying time for small businesses across the Island, especially ones relying heavily on tourist traffic. The dairy bar is no different with a slower season than usual, though Hambly is forever optimistic.

“We’re down, like everybody, but we’re open. I keep going back to that part because that’s huge.”

Hambly has been a member of the Kiwanis Club for 35 years and involved in the dairy bar for 33 of those years.

A big reason why he continues to love operating the place is because it means so much to so many, he said.

“It’s amazing. I talked to a gentleman here earlier who grew up in the city and has all kinds of memories of the dairy bar and just knows it and still comes here on a regular basis because of what we do and where we are.”

The city's mayor is another one of those people, he said.

“I grew up with the place,” said Brown, who used to ride his bike and go swimming in the park, before stopping for a scoop or two when he was young.

Since then, the dairy bar has become a staple attraction, he said.

“This is one of those iconic parts of Charlottetown.”

Of course, new people, like Bill Wallace, make their own memories of the place all the time.

This is an undated photo of the Kiwanis Dairy Bar. In the background is the old caretaker's house - Michael Robar
This is an undated photo of the Kiwanis Dairy Bar. In the background is the old caretaker's house - Michael Robar

 

Wallace moved to P.E.I. a few years ago and he and his wife will stop in for a cone when they come into Charlotteown, he said.

“Usually, if we’re coming into town, we usually bring the dog and it’s a great place to walk the dog.”

Ice cream makes for a delicious treat afterward, he said.

“It’s a nice way to finish off a walk.”

Even though Friday's celebration was low key, Hambly was appreciative of the lieutenant-governor, mayor and Kiwanis president for coming out.

And, new or returning, he appreciates everyone who stops by, he said.

“Thank you to every Islander who comes to the dairy bar and supports us. The profits from here go back to the community and that’s what has helped us to contribute to those who are in need.”

For more about the Kiwanis Dairy Bar, visit the Facebook page.

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