Cannon Beach is very unique in many ways, while in other ways it is like many small towns. We look back on a bygone time, our memories dulled by nostalgia. Remember when so-and-so did this, or this was like that? It is easy to forget that changes are often be good, even if they do inevitably alter the feel or look of a town.
One big change for the small town of Cannon Beach occurred in 1927 was when eight local women took it upon themselves to organize the “Cannon Beach Civic Club.” The first step was to provide the town with a library. Books were brought in from the Oregon State Library in Salem for the town. That isn’t the only thing that these women organized. They also promoted street lighting (back when street lights had to be lit), garbage disposals, better roads, and general beautification of the town.
The group managed these “projects,” some might say the town, until 1947 when the Commercial Club got its start. The Cannon Beach Civic Club became the Cannon Beach Library and the Women’s Club. The Commercial Club took over many of these projects, with the exception of baking pies every Thanksgiving and Christmas for the bachelors in town.
Many towns were deeply affected by World War II. This was a war that was just too close to home for many. It inspired many towns to take stock of their programs and organizations. Shortly after the end of the war, a home in Cannon Beach burned to the ground. It wasn’t the first time by any means, but it was the first time that a death was related to the fire. It was this fire that inspired the formation of the Commercial Club. The club’s first order of business was the formation of the Cannon Beach Fire Department in 1947 and the organization of the town’s lifeguard program. Cannon Beach had a lifeguard program; the first lifeguard was hired in 1938. According to history books, the program wasn’t sustained and the Commercial Club felt that the town needed it to be. This is one of the reasons that the Cannon Beach Fire Department and Lifeguard Department work so closely together.
At this time in our history Cannon Beach wasn’t incorporated, so it was up to the Commercial Club to gather funds to support these incredibly important programs. The Club also collected funds to keep the street lights functioning, sidewalks repaired and more. Many of these tasks were taken over when Cannon Beach became incorporated in 1957.
What would Cannon Beach be without its volunteer firefighters or its warm and welcoming library? One of the few libraries that still operates as a private nonprofit, in essence ensuring that both organizations remain owned by the town and in so doing, adding to the town’s unique charm.