Years before Cowichan Lake District Seniors Centre was built, the property was occupied by the village’s first community hall.
Both buildings — one built in 1930 the other in 1991 — would never have existed had it not been for two groups of energetic community-minded residents who took the bull by the horns, and did what had to be done, to accomplish their goals.
The completion of Lake Cowichan’s original community hall was a direct result of “if you want something done, do it yourself” sort of people.
In January 1929, a committee was formed after a United Church missionary suggested that the town needed a place for social gatherings. Soon after, the Lake Cowichan Community Club — which was incorporated under the Societies Act — was formed with the first order of business being the formation of the building committee.
A piece of property was selected and cleared and Merlin Douglas was chosen to do the structural work and supervise the project with volunteers doing the rest.
On March 7, 1931, one year after the start of the project, townsfolk, local dignitaries, and B.C. Premier Peter Tolmie gathered at the new hall for the official opening.
Tolmie did double that day opening the new hall and taking part in the official opening of the Riverside bridge.
Over the next few years additions were added on to three sides of the hall.
For the next 30 years, the hall was to host hundreds of events like: public dances, badminton, church services, meetings, wedding receptions, parties, boy scouts, Lake Days celebrations, the IODE annual flower show.The hall became the social centre that the missionary, the one who came up with the idea, had envisioned.
In 1941 the town residents celebrated the “burning of the mortgage.” By 1958, the once thriving community hall, had “outworn its usefulness and was becoming unsafe,” wrote John Saywell in the 1967 Kaatza – The Chronicles of Cowichan Lake.
One of the last duties of the Community Club — which oversaw the building — was to donate $400 for the new Centennial Park project. In 1959 the hall was condemned then closed for good. The Community Club sold the rundown hall to the local school district (to use for storage).
On June 21, 1963 it turned all assets over to the village. The club then disbanded.
Eventually the building was demolished. Over 60 years later, a new building arose on the spot where the old hall had once stood.
A plaque to commemorate the original site of the historic old community hall was placed at the new Cowichan Lake Seniors Centre, which was also built by volunteer labour.
An excerpt from Village of Lake Cowichan – Heritage Sites papers says it all, “Very appropriate, for it too serves the community as the old hall had done.”