As Bill Auchinvole predicted, the Hall was a great success, especially during the war years and just after. It was enjoyed and used. It could be rented by Union Bayites for any occasion for $7.50. The mortgage was soon paid off. Jimmy Walkers Orchestra from Courtenay played the first dance. Two of the players, Jewels Herbin on sax, and Hank Hatch on piano, made arrangements of the popular Big Band tunes, then joined with four other musicians and formed the Country Club Orchestra. Dancers from all over the Island flocked to the Saturday night dances in the new hall. The players received $7.00 each for four hours of music. Once a month on a Friday night, Johnny Lockner’s Orchestra played for an Old Time Dance. Some of the older women taught the young people the time honoured dances: the Barn Dance, Lancers, the Gay Gordons. The kids became quite addicted following Johnny around the Valley, Denman, Cape Lazo, Merville.
A very devoted Women’s Committee of the club met in the afternoon of a dance and prepared the famous ham and egg sandwiches. During wartime this was a feat, as many items were rationed including coffee, sugar and butter. Elizabeth Renwick and Ella Davis went early and by adding gelatin and milk to one pound of butter it could be beaten, with a spatula, into two pounds. They joked that the spatulas were worn down by the beating, and because they were made of rubber, during the war a new one couldn’t be bought so the old ones had to be used. The ladies, all mothers, kept busy by forming the Merchant Navy Club. During the war many Merchant Marine ships called with men from around the world, all missing home. So a club room was built in the basement of the Hall, furnished with comfortable chairs, board games and magazines for the Sailors to enjoy. For each ship that came for coal, the ladies provided some kind of entertainment in the big hall perhaps home slides, a dance, a concert. Anyone with a bit of talent was called upon. Often the men entered into the fun. With a song, a Maori crew sang “Now is the Hour when we must say good-bye”, a real tear jerker. An Irish step dancer brought his tap shoes, an organist from a big church in England played the piano. All were made special and treated to coffee, some home baking, or whatever was on offer, even strawberries and cream. The popular dances continued into the late fifties. The hall was marked for three badminton courts; basketball hoops were installed along with gymnasium rings, ropes and bars. Everything was well-used, especially by the Athletic Club.
By the late 1960’s Weldwood had purchased the Coal company, and wanted the triangle of land that the Hall sat on returned to complete their plot, so offered the Community Club the land where the now demolished Chinatown sat. An offer too good to miss. But how to move such a huge building? There was no Nickel Bros. then. Up stepped Ed Sawchuck who said he could do it. The bets were on and a large crowd gathered to see if Eddy could deliver. He prepared by cutting off part of the dining room, and putting long girders under the main hall. With two logging trucks he pulled it through the old ball field, along the beach side of the highway, then across the road to its resting place in old Chinatown while the crowd cheered.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Union Bay Church Hall
Monday, May 2nd
Memberships can be renewed at this time.
We are happy to report the new roof is now completed.
We depend on paid memberships to be eligible for Grants. With your support, The Historical Society can continue to maintain the upkeep and restorations of the Post Office, Library and Museum/Goal. Thank You