Quadra Island Community Centre History
In the 1890’s the first non-aboriginal settlers came to Valdez Island and logged, fished and ranched. By 1918 the Valdez Island Social Club, organized by Ann Bryant, the first white woman on the island, fundraised $500 with her peers and the first hall was built. The land was donated by the Yeatman family for a dollar. (The Children’s Centre is now located on that property.) People from the little settlement of Campbell River rowed their boats over to Gowlland Harbour and walked up to the hall for dances. A pioneer built road went from the hall to what is now Quadra Loop. (This is the main trail in Blenkin Park to the back road.)
The hall was viable through the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. In 1954, to conform with the renaming of the island, the Valdez Island Social Cub was changed to the Quadra Island Recreation Association. By 1960 a car ferry started running between Campbell River and Quadra, and everything changed. The old hall was falling into disrepair and it was hard to get volunteers to maintain it. There was an attempt in 1967 to build a new hall as a Centennial Project marking Canada’s 100th birthday, but that failed.
By 1973, the Recreation Association tore the old hall down. Also in the 70’s, hordes of 20-somethings came in droves to the island. Locals called it “the hippy invasion”. It was the first wave of baby boomers leaving home in the cities across North America to make their own lives “back to the land” and Quadra Island was an ideal destination. The Recreation Association was changed to a Society with Charitable status in 1978 to make fundraising easier. The 20-somethings were turning into 30-somethings, by 1980, had their kids and had their homes somewhat built, and needed a public place to meet: a Community Centre for themselves and their kids. In 1980 there was a referendum to build a recreation centre onto the school and make it a community school but that failed by 40 votes.
By 1983 a new group of people lead by Carol Harling Bleeks who had just graduated from UBC in Recreation lead the new committee to build a Community Centre in Blenkin park. By 1985 it was finished to lock up.
A Quadra Recreation Society board initiative started a daycare in the building as a funding source for the facility. (Oops! Bad idea.) In 1987 the daycare became their own society, and in 1989 moved the Waldorf school buildings to the old hall site and they have leased the land from the Recreation Society ever since. Historically, we have a strong connection with the Children’s Centre.
In 1986 we applied for a Charitable Gaming license and bingo became our chief funding source. By 1991 we had to augment that by going to referendum to get on the tax roll. The population voted 64% to support the Community Centre through property taxation. This marked a huge change in our focus. We could now concentrate on recreation programming instead of fundraising to survive.
The Community Centre was in a class “c” provincial park which government officials thought should be a Regional District community park. Negotiations to change the status started in 1988 and by 1996 were completed. The Quadra Recreation Society has an agreement with the Regional District to manage the Community Centre and Blenkin Park for the Regional District.
By 1994 the Community Centre Addition Project was started and by 2001 a $526,000 addition to add 3 new rooms, a new stage and adequate washrooms was completed. Thanks to our supportive community, sufficient funds were raised, leaving the Centre debt free. By 2006 landscaping projects beautified the grounds surrounding the Centre. By January 2008 the north entrance was upgraded with a stonewall demarcating a pedestrian area and a tots play area. In late 2011 the final touches were put on a brand new kids jungle gym playground, complete with slides and even an airplane!
This is a brief sketch of the last 90 years of recreation on Quadra. If you have your own stories about the Recreation Society, Community Centre or Blenkin Park that you would like to share, we would love to receive an email from you.