LANGLEY ADVANCE: History renewed

Sitting near a piece of one of the original cedar logs that held up the Willoughby Community Hall starting in the late 1930s, musician Willie MacCalder warmed up for the hall’s grand re-opening on Saturday. Photograph By Troy Landreville/Langley Advance

Sitting near a piece of one of the original cedar logs that held up the Willoughby Community Hall starting in the late 1930s, musician Willie MacCalder warmed up for the hall’s grand re-opening on Saturday. Photograph By Troy Landreville/Langley Advance

What was an old hall in Willoughby is new again. The community was invited to the grand re-opening celebration of the newly renovated Willoughby Community Hall on Saturday afternoon. The hall, at the 8300 block of 208th Street, has served the community for 89 years and was restored with a new foundation. In July 2013, a crew of contractors used a large winch to haul the heritage building to its new location, just a little to the left of where it has sat since 1937.
© Langley Advance

Willoughby Community Hall secretary Alice Johnson stood in front of the hall at 83rd Avenue and 208th Street. A grand re-opening of the hall was held Saturday, May 24. Photograph By Troy Landreville/Langley Advance

Willoughby Community Hall secretary Alice Johnson stood in front of the hall at 83rd Avenue and 208th Street. A grand re-opening of the hall was held May 24. Photograph By Troy Landreville/Langley Advance

The inside of the newly renovated Willoughby Community Hall was available for viewing by the community at the celebration.  Photograph By Troy Landreville/Langley Advance

The inside of the newly renovated Willoughby Community Hall was available for viewing by the community at the celebration.  Photograph By Troy Landreville/Langley Advance

HALL TALES: Excavation discovery exposed

Alan Dodd recalls attending many dances at the Willoughby Hall

Alan Dodd recalls attending many dances at the Willoughby Hall.

During the excavation work for the new foundation Peak Construction worker Darron Georgeson found several ancient glass bottles. At the Hall’s reopening social many stories were shared about the good old days. Alan Dodd attended many a dance in his younger days at the Hall. He said you had to go outside, however, for a smoke and a drink. It was no surprise to him, he said, that a few whiskey bottles would surface during the restoration work.
Send your “Hall Tale” to Kurt Alberts kurt@kurtalberts.com .

Darren Georgeson shows Karl Dreise one of the liquor bottles he uncovered during work on the hall.

Darren Georgeson shows Karl Dreise one of the liquor bottles he uncovered during work on the hall.

HALL TALES: Remembering the 50th celebration

Dalton Rooks shares photos of the 50th celebration. Who's the lovely couple?

Dalton Rooks shares photos of the 50th celebration. Who’s the lovely couple?

Willoughby pioneer Dalton Rooks has a long history with the Willoughby Hall. As President of the Willoughby Saddle Club he remembers when the Willoughby Hall Society turned over the keys to him in the mid 1960’s. “They just couldn’t carry on and thought our organization could come to the rescue and run the hall”, Dalton explained. He has photos of the 1987 fall supper which included local dignitaries like Alderman Muriel Arnason and Alderman Len Fowler.

HALL TALES: The Saddle Club connection

The Willoughby Saddle Club's pooper scoopers ready for action

The Willoughby Saddle Club’s pooper scoopers ready for action

According to Dalton and Ann Rooks the community came close to losing control over the Willoughby Community Hall. In the mid 1960’s the Willoughby Hall Society volunteers had given up and handed over the keys. Thanks to the Rooks and other volunteers the hall spirit was kept alive. For over 90 years the hall has been run totally by volunteers.

The Willoughby Saddle Club in the Langley Days parade. Recognize anyone?

The Willoughby Saddle Club in the Langley Days parade. Recognize anyone?

Dalton Rooks and the Willoughby Saddle Club know horses.

The Willoughby Saddle Club is key in the history of the Willoughby community.

A CELEBRATION: Willoughby Hall re-opens

The community celebrated the re-opening of the Willoughby Hall on May 24, 2014

The community celebrated the re-opening of the Willoughby Hall on May 24, 2014

Willoughby pioneer Alice Johnson with supporters of Willoughby Hall

Willoughby pioneer Alice Johnson with supporters of Willoughby Hall

Councillor Fox, Robert Georgeson, Councillor Dornan, Steve Burton, Mayor Froese, Hugh Davis, Karl Dreise,

L to R: Councillor Charlie Fox, Robert Georgeson, Councillor Bev Dornan, Steve Burton, Mayor Froese, Hugh Davis, Karl Dreise,

L to R: Darron Georgeson, Dalton & Ann Rooks, Councillor Michelle Sparrow, Councillor Grant Ward

L to R: Darron Georgeson, Dalton & Ann Rooks, Councillor Michelle Sparrow, Councillor Grant Ward

L to R: Gwen & Tony McCamley, Frank Bucholtz, Bernie G.

L to R: Gwen & Tony McCamley, Frank Bucholtz, Bernie Grinstead.

L to R: David Baker, Kurt Alberts, Toni Dreise, Alice Johnson, Karl Dreise, Brenda Alberts, Cole Armour

L to R: David Baker, Kurt Alberts, Toni Dreise, Alice Johnson, Karl Dreise, Brenda Alberts, Cole Armour

L to R: Karl Dreise, Linda Baker, Alice Johnson, Mayor Jack Froese, MP Mark Warawa, Aux. Constable Bernadette Thompson

L to R: Karl Dreise, Linda Baker, Alice Johnson, Mayor Jack Froese, MP Mark Warawa, Aux. Constable Bernadette Thompson

Canada flag is raised as Cole Armour sings National Anthem

Canada flag is raised as Cole Armour sings National Anthem

The BC flag is raised by the 1st Walnut Grove Scouts

The BC flag is raised by the 1st Walnut Grove Scouts

The raising of the Langley Township flag. Now ready for the ribbon cutting.

The raising of the Langley Township flag. Now ready for the ribbon cutting.

L to R: Steve Dreise, Karl Dreise, Alice Johnson, Linda Baker, Mayor Jack Froese, MP Mark Warawa

L to R: Steve Dreise, Karl Dreise, Alice Johnson, Linda Baker, Mayor Jack Froese, MP Mark Warawa

LANGLEY TIMES: Willoughby Hall reopens after refit

Grand Re-Opening for Willoughby Community Hall on May 24, 2014

Grand Re-Opening for Willoughby Community Hall on May 24, 2014

The restored Willoughby Hall was opened officially Saturday, May 24, with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by dozens of community members. From left to right: Kurt Alberts, Willoughby Hall Society president Karl Driese, volunteer Alice Johnson, Linda Baker, Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese and Langley MP Mark Warawa take part in welcoming the community to the refurbished hall. — Image Credit: Alyssa O’Dell, Langley Times

The historic Willoughby Hall was officially reopened Saturday afternoon.

by Frank Bucholtz – Langley Times
The hall, originally built in 1937 to replace one built in 1921 that was destroyed by fire, sits at 83 Avenue and 208 Street – amidst apartments, townhouses and single-family homes. At one time, Willoughby was completely rural, but it is now in the midst of development that will see it become home to 60,000 people eventually.

It was one of those developments, Athenry Gate, that led to the changes and improvements to the hall. Former Langley Township mayor Kurt Alberts, who acted as a volunteer advisor to the hall society during the move process, explained Saturday that the hall was on a 5,000 square foot lot and would be impacted by the development, and widening of 83 Avenue. Athenry, proposed and originally owned by longtime Willoughby residents Tony and Gwen McCamley, planned to build on adjacent property. As part of that plan, it was prepared to move the hall a short distance and provide more parking.

While the McCamleys eventually sold Athenry to Peak Construction, the new owner of the development followed through and ensured that the hall was moved. In addition, the cedar logs that had served as the foundation (and are still in good shape) were replaced by a full concrete basement. The hall was also upgraded to meet current building codes.

Saturday’s reopening was a true community event. Willoughby resident and up-and-coming singing sensation Cole Armour sang O Canada. Members of 1st Willoughby Cubs and Beavers and 1st Walnut Grove Scouts raised three flags on new flagpoles in front of the hall, paid for by the Township.

Longtime president Karl Driese, executive members Alice Johnson and Linda Baker, along with MP Mark Warawa and Township Mayor Jack Froese, cut the ribbon to open the hall. The crowd then streamed in to look over the new features while enjoying seeing much that was familiar, including the original tongue and grove interior.

Coffee, tea and snacks were served, and an Al Colton painting of the hall was on display on stage. Prints of the painting are available to help raise funds for the move.

The hall was designated a Township heritage building in 2000.

It remains a very busy place, with many community activities on a daily basis. The longtime members of the hall association are proud of the way the move turned out, and are hopeful that some of the new residents of the area will visit the hall, and get involved in ensuring that the hall has a long future in serving Willoughby residents.

In addition to the work done by Peak Construction, the renovations were paid for by the Township, a bequest from longtime members Roy and Shirley Baker, which was matched by Langley Heritage Society and the hall association. A fundraiser two years ago also helped raise funds for the restoration.

For more about the Bakers and the fundraising event, see an article by former Times reporter Al Irwin at heritagematters.wordpress.com.
At the reopening event, Froese noted that former reeveNoel Booth had been present when the second community hall was first opened in the 1930’s. Both he and Mark Warawa applauded the workers and volunteers for working very hard to preserve the heritage of Willoughby, and specifically of the unique building.

May 24, 2014: Grand Re-opening of the Hall

Left to Right: Piper, Mike McDonald, Kurt Alberts, Karl Dreise, Alice Johnson, Linda Baker, Mayor Jack Froese, MP Mark Warawa

Left to Right: Piper, Mike McDonald, Kurt Alberts, Karl Dreise, Alice Johnson, Linda Baker, Mayor Jack Froese, MP Mark Warawa

At 2 pm today the ribbon was officially cut for the re-opening of the restored Willoughby Community Hall. Between 175 to 200 people attended the ceremony to officially welcome back the Hall’s service to the community. Piper Mike McDonald led the ribbon cutting party which included 1st Walnut Grove Scouts and 1st Willoughby Beavers and Cubs. Willoughby resident and international singing sensation, Cole Armour sang O’Canada during the flag raising. Willie MacCalder, legendary blues keyboardist, performed “Could I have this dance?” in tribute to Roy and Shirley Baker.
3 new flag poles were put into official use as part of the Grand Re-opening ceremony.

3 new flag poles were put into official use as part of the Grand Re-opening ceremony.

RCMP Auxillary Bernadette Thompson and Piper Mike McDonald await the ribbon cutting party

RCMP Auxiliary Constable Bernadette Thompson and Piper Mike McDonald await the ribbon cutting party