photo credit: Cheryl Young/Salty


Kiwanis Dairy Bar Celebrates Anniversary

In 1955 you could get an ice cream for about 25 cents. While the prices have changed over the past 65 years, the cold dessert and hot grill offerings are pretty much the same at the Kiwanis Dairy Bar.

“People come back again and again,” Basil Hambly, president of the Kiwanis Club of Charlottetown, said. “Islanders have been very supportive over the years, but we also get a lot of tourists that have become regulars.”

The Kiwanis Dairy Bar, located in Victoria Park in Charlottetown, PEI, is celebrating its 65th anniversary this summer. The Club was planning an anniversary party for July but with current restrictions on large gatherings that will likely change. Hambly said he had hoped the Lieutenant Governor would come as well as the Premier and Mayor of Charlottetown. He said a few of the Island’s Lieutenant Governors have actually been regulars.

“Well, they live next door,” he said.

Kiwanis is an international charity dedicated to “Serving the Children of the World.” As such the Kiwanis Club of Charlottetown, of which Hambly has been a member for 35 years, has used funds raised by the dairy bar (and by its other operation, Bingo Country) to beautify Victoria Park and provide play areas for children.

Kiwanis Club President Basil Hambly //photo credit Cheryl Young/Salty

“We’ve planted trees in the park,” Hambly said. “We’ve built or helped to build the splash pad, the first baseball diamond, we helped build the skate park, and we’ve donated to other projects and clubs like the tennis club with the proceeds from the dairy bar.”

The club has used money raised by the bar and the bingo hall to help the Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and Chances Family Centre.

It also supports youth employment. Hambly said the dairy bar should have 15 employees this summer; most of them students. Kiwanis also likes to support locally in other ways. “All of the hamburger for our burgers comes from MacQuarries. Despite the fire there they were happy to supply us again and we’re happy to support them. We use fresh PEI beef and it’s never frozen.”

Sixty-five years is a long time to run a business.

“Kiwanis took over the dairy bar in 1955,” Hambly said. “This is eight years after the Kiwanis was started in Charlottetown. The park caretaker at the time was running an ice cream stand but became ill, I believe, and Kiwanis took it over.”

The Dairy Bar officially opened on July 23, 1955, with proceeds going to the operation of the Kiwanis Kiddies’ Wading Pool which at that time cost over $1000 a year to run.

Hambly said in his time with Kiwanis he has been very involved with the dairy bar. He said there was some talk this year of doing some renovations to the building but with uncertainty over the tourism season due to the COVID-19 virus he’s glad those plans weren’t firmed up.

“The building is pretty new,” he said. “We would love to have more space and more freezers, but that will have to wait.”

Adapting to COVID-19 restrictions, the dairy bar has opened for the 2020 season and will be selling ice cream, french fries, hamburgers, and hot dogs until mid-September.

Social distancing will be enforced at the Dairy Bar this season //photo credit Cheryl Young/Salty

Hambly said if anyone would like to share their memories of the dairy bar and Victoria Park he would love to hear them. Send your stories or thoughts to

About Rod Weatherbie

Rod Weatherbie is a writer working in the hospitality industry. He spent a number of years in Toronto as a member of the financial press before returning to PEI. Rod has published one piece of short fiction, one book of poetry, and has had work published in Red Shift, the Antigonish Review, Mitre, and the Toronto Quarterly. He has also recently co-produced, co-directed, and acted in a stage production of old television shows.

He also likes writing about food. Go figure.

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