Outdoors club keeps focus through thick and thin

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Bob Goodreau, Joe Pinsonneault and Vince Goodreau check out one of the bows used in the Dover Rod and Gun Club’s archery activities. Bob and Vince are charter members of the club, while Joe is the current president. The club was founded in 1949.
Bob Goodreau, Joe Pinsonneault and Vince Goodreau check out one of the bows used in the Dover Rod and Gun Club’s archery activities. Bob and Vince are charter members of the club, while Joe is the current president. The club was founded in 1949.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JB

 

A rough-running 1934 Ford indirectly helped the formation of one of the area’s oldest outdoors clubs, the Dover Rod and Gun Club, which is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year.

Brothers Bob and Vince Goodreau, two of the four surviving founding members, (Rex Crawford and Vern Bishop are the others) sat down recently to talk about the club’s rich history.

“I had bought a 1934 Ford from Armand King, and the car kept having problems so I kept bringing it back to him,” Bob recalled. “We got to talking, and he wanted to know if I’d be interested in helping with a sportsman’s club he wanted to start in Dover.”

The first meeting of what would become the club attracted nine people, but word spread quickly and the numbers swelled.

“We had a meeting upstairs on the dance floor of the Halfway Hotel. The club was formed Aug. 9, 1949.”

King was the first president.

The Dover Rod and Gun Club is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year. The club has always been located on Heron Line but this building dates from the late 1980s.
The Dover Rod and Gun Club is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year. The club has always been located on Heron Line but this building dates from the late 1980s.

The club began with 221 members, according to a membership log that is still used today. Bob was president for one term while Vince served in the top post twice.

Current president Joe Pinsonneault said the club has taught appreciation of the outdoors and the skills that go along with it to generations of Dover and area youngsters.

“It starts with the children,” he said. “If they grow up with the knowledge of how important our environment is, they carry it with them.”

The club sponsors archery and trap shooting events on a regular basis, and at one time even helped train members of the RCMP in long rifle use.

The club relies on social events and dues for funding its programs and contributing to the community.

“In the beginning we had muskrat suppers to raise money,” Bob said. “We outgrew the church hall in Grande Pointe and eventually we had to use the Pyranon Ballroom in Chatham. We served 1,004 muskrats one year and made $383. People used to wait all year for the dinners. One fellow ate seven muskrats all by himself.”

The interior of the Dover Rod and Gun Club in the former Dover Township is adorned with awards, certificates and mementoes’ of the organization’s 65 years of celebrating the outdoors.
The interior of the Dover Rod and Gun Club in the former Dover Township is adorned with awards, certificates and mementoes of the organization’s 65 years of celebrating the outdoors.

The club has always been located near the end of Heron Line in the former Dover Township but its clubhouse and the club itself has undergone many changes.

In 1976, the club had dropped to 14 members and a mid 1980s fire that destroyed the clubhouse threatened to end it entirely.

Pinsonneault recalls the 1988 meeting at which the club began its second life.

“I was 18 and I was put in charge of what they called ‘social,’” he said. “I asked what that meant and they said I was in charge of the hall, of getting the beer and organizing events. It was a shock.”

The clubhouse was rebuilt and now offers trap shooting, an indoor archery range. In addition to hosting dances, it also serves as a facility for the many courses offered.

Changing regulations a generation ago meant tough times for the wild game suppers for which the club was famous.

“It wasn’t right,” said Bob. “Things could have been handled much better by the government, but we got through it.”

Pinsonneault said the club does a lot of good for the community.

“This year we donated $2,000 to Outreach for Hunger, and we’ve helped the Chatham Women’s Centre as well. We have scholarships for students at local schools and we help out wherever we can.”

With 56 current members, the club is healthy but is always looking to welcome newcomers.

“All you need is a love of the outdoors and an interest in sharing that with others,” Pinsonneault said.

The club is celebrating its anniversary with a prime rib and steak dinner July 26, featuring music by The Chasers. Tickets will be on sale shortly for the event and can be obtained by contacting Pinsonneault at 519-354-3237.

Other events slated for this year include the annual children’s fishing derby to be held July 5.

“The event is free and every child who enters wins a prize,” Pinsonneault said. “It’s not about competition as much as it is just getting kids out. On that weekend, adults don’t need a fishing license, so it’s a good chance for everyone to come out to the club.”

The club will be sponsoring courses in hunter education, possession acquisition license (PAL) and restricted possession acquisition licenses June 27 through 29.

For more information call 519-351-0777 or 519-437-9449.

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