Peter Pontikes was 19 years old in 1934 when he emigrated to Saskatoon from the village where he was born in Greece. He came to work at the Ritz Hotel on 21st Street East, a business owned by his sister and her husband (Effie and Bill Geatros), and to earn an income that would allow him to send money to support his widowed mother and siblings in Greece. For the next twelve years, his life revolved around his work, the Geatros family, and the Greek community in Saskatoon.
In 1946, Peter married Lola Diamand, daughter of a Regina restaurateur. Peter subsequently established several businesses in Saskatoon in partnership with others: Johnny’s Lunch (on 2nd Avenue South), the Barry Café (on Twentieth Street West), and the Suburban Restaurant and Recreation Centre (on Idylwyld North). Through his business affiliations, Peter supported the Riversdale Business Association and the Community Chest. He was a member of Twin City Masonic Lodge.
Meanwhile, Peter and Lola embarked on a mission to sponsor the emigration of numerous young Greek men and women – many in their late teens — to come to Canada. They were convinced that these young people had few opportunities in post-war Greece and that coming to Canada offered a chance to pursue a better future for themselves and financial support for the families they left.
Lola became an active member of Saskatoon’s Greek community and after the birth of her children, Ken and Diane, of the wider Saskatoon community. She volunteered and provided leadership in many community and local organizations associated with her children’s school and extra-curricular activities.
Peter and Lola were actively engaged as volunteers in community events such as the Greek Pavilion at Saskatoon Folkfest. They were members of the Order of Ahepa and Daughters of Penelope (fraternal organizations serving the Greek diaspora) and were founding members, with Peter serving as the first president, of Koimisis tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church in Saskatoon. Peter and Lola instilled their values of supporting community, philanthropy, and volunteerism in their son and daughter. For example, Ken and Diane both held leadership positions in the early years of Saskatoon Folkfest.
The Pontikes Family Fund for Children and Youth was established by contributions in 1995 from Peter, Lola, Ken, and Diane. The Fund has grown in subsequent years through further contributions and through memorial tributes from friends at the time of Peter’s and Lola’s passing 2000 and 2014.
The Pontikes Family Fund is an extension of the family’s commitment to philanthropy, volunteerism, and leadership through many community organizations in Saskatoon. It also reflects their interests, including the arts, immigrant-support, the natural environment, and community development. The Fund encourages initiatives that build self-esteem, develop skills, and provide opportunities and experiences for children, youth and their families facing financial, physical, or other disadvantages.