Sask. Beach celebrates Canada 150 with new community hall

MP Tom Lukiwski, long-time Saskatchewan Beach resident Wilma Mollard, and former Saskatchewan Beach mayor Malcolm Graham cut the ribbon officially opening the resort village’s new community hall July 1. Photo by Sarah MacMillan.

Communities across the country celebrated Canada’s 150th anniversary July 1 — concerts, parades, and of course, cake. But in Saskatchewan Beach, the day was commemorated with another celebration — the grand opening of their new community hall.

July 1 marked the official opening of Saskatchewan Beach’s new community hall, a facility that has been dedicated to Canada 150, leaving a lasting legacy within the resort village.

“We’re finally going to be able to get back into a community based building,” said Saskatchewan Beach mayor Harvey McEwen.

The village has been without a community hall for the last three years, after the former hall had to be demolished due to slumping. Demolition of the former venue meant a loss of the community hub, as well as a loss of council chambers. Without a hall, village council was meeting in McEwen’s garage. For special village meetings, the garage doors had to be left open, and chairs set up on the driveway.

But with the new venue, all that is about to change. Council now has an official physical location to meet, and residents have somewhere to gather, a point that McEwen stressed.

“It’s just to bring the community back together,” he said.

The community hall was made possible with the completion of the village’s new maintenance shop, which officially opened in September 2016. With the build of the new shop, the village was able to transform the old shop, located near the main beach, into the new community hall.

“Basically a brand new building inside an old building,” McEwen explained.

The new community hall boasts 1,500 square feet of floor space, about twice the size of the village’s former community venue.

“Now we’ve got a brand new (community hall) and we can do community things together again,” Wilma Mollard said. Mollard was celebrating the new building, helping to cut the ribbon officially opening the hall.

Mollard’s family has been out at the beach for more than 100 years, her grandfather buying land in 1914 and building a little cottage in 1915. The family has been coming to the beach ever since.

“The sixth generation now is coming to enjoy the cottage,” Mollard explained, adding with a smile “it’s a very special place for our family. A little like the family farm.”

She expressed her excitement over the new building, and recognized the hard work of those who made the new hall possible.

MP Tom Lukiwski also helped celebrate the occasion, congratulating the resort village. The MP recognized that despite problems of slumping, the village turned the negative into a positive, using funding received through the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program (PDAP) to construct the new facility.

“It just goes to show, if a community comes together and has a plan to build, whether it be a town hall or anything infrastructure related, if you put your minds to it, miracles can happen. And that’s what happened here,” Lukiwski said.

With the ribbon cutting, the resort village dedicated the new hall to Canada 150.

Inside the hall a “grow tree” adorns the corner wall. McEwen explained instead of a plaque recognizing those who contributed to the new community venue, the village chose to craft a large tree with outstretched branches. The tree’s leaves will hold the names of donors.

“We wanted to do something different than a metal plaque,” he said.

The idea for the tree came from Daphne Pinch, Harvey’s wife.

“I thought that it would be really cool,” she said.

Together Pinch and a friend created the commemorative tree, Pinch establishing the “grow tree” on the hall wall. Leaves already adorn the branches.

McEwen recognized all those who helped make the new hall possible, the mayor giving special recognition to administrator Sharie Hall.

“She did a lot of work,” he said.

The new hall comes at the perfect time as the resort village is preparing to commemorate their centennial in 2019.