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History of the Lawrencetown Community Centre

By the mid 1950's the population of the Lawrencetown area had grown considerably with the influx of new residents which both caused a need for new schools and a new hall. The two existing halls; one at the beginning of the Leslie Road and the other which sat in the "Y" of the beginning of the West Lawrencetown Road were no longer large enough to handle the demand of the growing population.
These two old halls had been the scene of many fondly remembered occasions some of which included: dances with music supplied with local residents, box socials, weddings, plays, school Christmas concerts, Jack Friis taught young men the fine art of boxing in the West Lawrencetown Hall. This hall had been built around 1870 as a Temperance Hall with the Sons of Temperance, Chapter 304 being firmly established here by 1869. Movies were shown once, if not twice a week, usually to a packed audience. During spring and summer suppers were held such as strawberry, lobster, corned beef and cabbage, etc.; as well during the summer each year, two weeks were set aside for Lawrencetown Vacation School. Many of the older residents remember fondly these two old buildings where a good time was had by all.
It became evident, with the growing population and more vehicular traffic a new facility was required. The location in which the old hall was located was fast becoming hazardous due to the increase in traffic. This old building needed extensive repairs and an extension if it were to be relocated.
In May of 1959 a group of interested, dedicated people held a meeting in the old hall where the "Lawrencetown Community Centre Organization came into being. A group of energetic, hard-working, interested people from Lawrencetown, Three Fathom Harbour and Seaforth, as well, summer residents who had cottages launched a movement to build a bigger, better equipped building. Two of these people donated ½ acre for the new facility.
An attempt to raise enough funds to build a new and larger facility began with a multitude of fund raising enterprises which included: bingo and a 45 card socials being played once a week at the old Sinclair Crowell residence. This old home sat across from the present day MacDonald House in the area where Ralph Crowell has his excavating business. Suppers were held at this location to sold-out crowds. Everyone donating whatever they could towards the particular event, thus cutting down on costs. Water had to be brought to the site by containers; as the water supply was not fit for human consumption, however was able to be used for the bathroom and washing of dishes. Some people, who were farmers, brought homemade dairy products such as butter and milk, fresh garden vegetables were donated, pies and rolls were baked by the women. As well, the Irish Sweepstakes; Tickets were sold by a few people within the community, with proceeds going to the cause.
Natal Day at the Dartmouth Lakes was another experience those still alive can remember well. Aubrey Campbell and Nixon Davis (Nick as he was known by all) secured a huge Army tent and a frame erected by the men was put in place. Truckload after truckload of water, pots and pans, tables, tablecloths, coolers and ice, and Coleman stoves were trucked to the Dartmouth Lakes for this undertaking, plus all the food which was to be served. They sold out and nothing was brought back home with the exception of the supplies needed to set up with.
Square dances were held in Donald MacDonald's truck garage on the Conrad Road with Graham Geddes as the caller. The women made sandwiches, which were sold at intermission to raise money, pop, tea and coffee were served. Always a good crowd and people both enjoyed themselves and donated for the building of a new hall.
Just prior to Christmas, a turkey and wild rabbit shoot would be held behind George (Fred) Bowden's store with people donating snared rabbits, and turkeys being donated from someone in the community who raised them. A person would pay a price to shoot in the tournament either with a 22 calibre rifle or a shot gun as targets would be erected. Then when a series of entrants successfully competed, a shoot-off would take place with a great time being had by all and the winners going home with either their rabbits or turkeys.
The ladies often catered to various events held in different locations in Dartmouth. The ladies would supply the food and transport it to the location and cater to whatever the event happened to be.
One weekend in summer a fun day was held at the east-end of East Lawrencetown Beach where the old ball field was located. Games of chance, bingo, races and a "dunk-tank" were all on site. These were all ways in which funding for the yet to be constructed Lawrencetown Community Centre were raised.
Land was donated for the site of the new Lawrencetown Community Centre by two members of the community, who resided on the Conrad Road: Mr. Donald MacDonald and Mr. Cyril Conrad, both of who owned lots adjacent to each other directly across from the Conrad Road. Groundbreaking ceremonies took place in early spring of 1960 with adults and youths in attendance, all doing their share of work. The Dartmouth Free Press carried the story and a photo of those in the work party. Mrs. Helen Hogan, a writer for the Dartmouth Free Press, kept the readers updated on the progress of the building in her weekly column, "Pantry Politics."  Twenty individual members signed for a mortgage for the building.
The footings were poured in July, 1960 and Fred Bowden was appointed construction supervisor. The late Earl Stoddard and Max Schnare laid the foundation for the original building which was 55 X 90 feet. The British Columbia Douglas Fir roof trusses were salvaged from a building at Clarence Park in Eastern Passage. Mr. Earl Conrad (Pick) and Mr. John Crook (Jackie) were hired as carpenters. While the construction was being carried on, the ladies were still raising funds with catering, bingo, suppers, etc.
On December 6th, 1960, the Lawrencetown Community Centre narrowly missed being blown up, along with the two carpenters as they worked to make the roof airtight. A stray shell from a Naval shoot off Osborne Head missed the roof of the building by about ten feet, detonating in the woods behind the newly constructed building. This story made headlines in the Wednesday edition of the Dartmouth Free Press: "NAVY SHELL LOBBED ON LAWRENCETOWN."
Early 1961 saw the opening of the Lawrencetown Community Centre with a supper and dance. The Noble Cribby Band was the first band to play the Center and they played to a packed house, continuing to do so for many, many years. The Laurie Anderson Band played quite frequently as well in those early years. These bands were paid a maximum of $65.00 per night and if the crowd, for some reason was small, this was reduced to $40.00. The admission to the dances cost $1.00 per person. A bit of a chuckle for any of you who are old enough to remember when: "Shortly after beginning operation the Canteen Committee apologized for raising the price of pop to 12 cents"!
The hall was booked for catering for weddings, Imperial Oil & Texaco were frequent companies to use the facilities. The ladies worked the kitchen, making chicken burgers, hamburgers and clam chowder purchasing the fresh-shelled clams from the Chezzetcook people. The weekly bingo continued, card games were continued with Max Schnare of Seaforth in charge; the kitchen opened for an intermission where the ladies sold hot drinks and sandwiches. Badminton was held on Sunday afternoons with Gordie Crowell Jr. as instructor. Square dancing continued, adding, a young peoples,' square dance group.
The Center had a great bunch of workers who came faithfully, donated items to the hall and worked hard, cleaning up after each catering or event. No one was paid as there wasn't money for this. If the women of the kitchen ran out of something, it was nothing for one of them to run home and grab this or that and return with the needed item. Seaforth, Three Fathom Harbour and Lawrencetown worked together to make a success of the new facility which all residents were proud of.
When dances and caterings were held, someone was always in the cloak-room, although it was a free service, a bowl was always placed on the counter for any tips which patrons might wish to leave; the same applied for the kitchen and canteen. Each of these locations were given a sheet to be filled in at the end of the night with an accounting of monies taken in, including tips which were turned in. All was totaled and banked and in this way, before grants came into place, the hall paid for itself and workers did not keep the tips.
The Lawrencetown Community Centre was fortunate with their Saturday Night dances as there was very little trouble, only two fights during the first eight to ten years. They were lucky because one RCMP Officer stationed on Bruce Avenue in Woodlawn was a very staunch supporter of the L.C.C. and when off duty, came to the dances; however, when on duty, checked in regularly to ensure proper behaviour and no problems arose. Al was a great guy, showing up to accompany the person transporting the proceeds from the evening to their home, ensuring no problems arose. People who worked back then remember him fondly to this day.
The committee, which had originally started the idea of a new hall, was presided over by Mr. Aubrey Campbell of the West Lawrencetown Road, an insurance sales man.
On October 28th, 1961 the Lawrencetown Community Centres' Charter was set forth in writing signed by the 1st. President of the Lawrencetown Community Centre, Mr. Lloyd Schnare, of Seaforth.
The object of the Society (as the L.C.C. is a registered non-profit society) is to promote activities normal to a community center, including social, recreational, sporting educational and charitable.
The first caretaker of the Lawrencetown Community Centre was the late Mrs. Frances Conrad (Frankie) who literally scrubbed the hall on her hands and knees and by using a mop.  
Those days were busy and exciting days for the Lawrencetown Community Centre where people came together, worked together, and stayed together for the good of the Centre.
The mangers went and bought the needed items for the kitchen, or were on site when the pop companies arrived with the orders. Sawlor Brothers supplied the canteen with merchandise. The hall was opened for whatever event scheduled, keys were not handed out to individuals, only the directors or manager held keys. No security system was in place, however, a good many times when a lobster supper or special event was going on and was prepared for the evening before; a couple of men stood guard in the hall over night to guard against any theft or damage.
There were break-ins, thefts, etc., which were tracked down to members of the community, however, no charges were ever laid because these families had children in school here or they were experiencing difficult times. In a couple of instances this saw the re-occurrence of the same perpetrator which led to some interesting meetings.
 
The Charter Members of the Lawrencetown Community Centre are as follows:
Mr. & Mrs. Fred Banfield
Mr. Fred Bowden
Mr. Aubrey Campbell
Mr. & Mrs. Horatio Carroll
Mr. & Mrs. Grafton Carter
Mr. Bernard Claes
Mr. & Mrs. Cameron Conrad
Mr. Emerson Conrad
Mr. & Mrs. Harvey Conrad
Mr. & Mrs. Keith Conrad
Mr. Reginald Conrad
Mr. & Mrs. Roy Conrad
Mrs. J.W. Cooke
Mr. & Mrs. Jerome Crooks
Mr. Austin Crowell
Mr. & Mrs. Gordon Crowell Sr.
Mr. Robert Crowell
Mr. & Mrs. Nixon B. Davis
Mr. & Mrs. William Farrell
Mrs. Pearl Fox
Mrs. Ola Gaetz
Mr. & Mrs. Frank Hogan
Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Holland
Mr. Lawrence Holland
Mr. & Mrs. Delbert Killen
Mr. & Mrs. Donald MacDonald
Mr. & Mrs. Lorne MacDonald
Mr. & Mrs. Spencer MacDonald
Mr. Carl Merson
Mr. & Mrs. Dennis Newman
Mr. Douglas Romans
Mr. & Mrs. Maxwell Schnare
Mr. Raymond Sellars
Mrs. W. Slade
Mr. & Mrs. James Soward
Mr. Gilbert Walton
Mr. J. A. Wildwood
Mr. & Mrs. Horace Bell
Mr. & Mrs. Tom Brown
Mr. & Mrs. Ed Carroll
Mr. & Mrs. Bruce Carter
Mr. Norman Carter
Mrs. Aubrey Conrad
Mr. & Mrs. Cyril Conrad
Mr. & Mrs. Gerald Conrad
Mr. Hollis Conrad
Miss Lynda Conrad
Mr. Reid Conrad
Mr. & Mrs. Stewart Conrad
Mr. Gordon Crimp
Mr. & Mrs. John Crook
Mr. & Mrs. Earl Crowell
Mr. Gordon Crowell Jr.
Mr. & Mrs. Vernon Crowell
Miss Joyce Ellis
Mr. Cyril Finlay
Mr. & Mrs. John Friis
Mr. Daniel Hogan
Mr. & Mrs. Morrison Heddon
Mr. James Holland
Mr. Frank Lovett
Mr. & Mrs. Donald Manuel
Mrs. Irving MacDonald
Mr. Roland MacDonald
Mr. & Mrs. Frank McMasters
Mr. & Mrs. Edward Morrow
Mr. William Redmond
Mr. Walter Russell
Mr. Mitchell Sellers
Mr. & Mrs. Russell Sellars
Mr. & Mrs. Mel Slauenwhite
Mr. Earl Stoddard
Mr. & Mrs. Harris Wiseman
On Friday, June 14th, 1968, a huge party was held for members and guests complete with a lobster supper and the Noble Cribby Band. This was the Mortgage Burning. In just under seven years the workers had paid off the mortgage for the new building; not without a lot of hard work and effort. The cheque was presented to Mr. Aubrey Campbell, Vice President of the Lawrencetown Community Centre; by Stewart Conrad, Manager. In attendance during the presentation were Mrs. Elsie Crowell, Secretary, Mrs. Winnifred Conrad, Treasurer and Mr. Lucien Ledaire, President.
There have been many, many changes since those early years when the Lawrencetown Community Centre first started, many presidents, vice-presidents, treasurers, secretaries, and managers have held things together. The hall is still a very active spot with an ongoing supply of events and surprises for everyone.
 

 
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