Social activities were very important to the Kilbride villagers. Often, the Churches in the area were the centre of many such activities. However, those buildings had limited capacity.
In 1905 the Salem New Connexion Methodist Church building was purchased by Donald McGregor. The Church had been established in 1847 and served the residents of Zimmerman. It was originally built on land donated by John Bridgman and was located on the north east corner of Walkers Line on Lot 1, Concession 5 NDS (north of Dundas Street). In 1890, the Churched closed with the members moving to the Zimmerman Methodist Church located on Appleby Line just south of #2 Sideroad.
Because of the distance from Zimmerman to Kilbride, the building was dismantled and moved in pieces. This speaks to the frugality of people in those days as any and all materials that were still useful were reused and not discarded. The building was relocated on the north side of what was originally known as Thomas Street (now Kilbride Street) between where the store and Kilbride Church stand. Donald McGregor rebuilt the building and originally used either as a meat shop or storehouse. No records have been found to date to verify that it was used as a meat shop.
The community purchased it in 1920 from Alfred M. Tansley & wife and Wm. G. Gastle & wife at a cost of $950. The Trustees of the Village Hall Property in Kilbride were listed as James B. Tweedle, Harman McArthur, Elmer Harbottle, William Pegg and Robert Mayberry (?).
There were benches or pews placed around the perimeter of the floor that originally came from Bethel Church. When the Community Hall was closed, the pews were returned to Bethel. There was a stage at one end and two doors one on either side. One door did exit to the vestibule, kitchen and back entrance. The exit from the stage was a set of steps immediately in front of the other door that also led to the back room area. The building did have a well for water but no washroom. Instead, there was a single hole outhouse.
In 1921 an Old Boys’ Reunion was held not only as a social event and as a way of reconnection but also to raise funds to put towards the Hall debt. The event was successful and raised $1,500. In 1928, the community purchased 2 acres of land behind Kilbride School from G. H. (Harmon) McArthur to be used as a recreation area.
In 1930, the kitchen was added. Fundraising continued and a garden party was held to raise funds.
Management of the Hall fell to the Hall Board, a group of men from the community that included Eric McArthur, Gordon Small, Jim Wetheralt, Frank Greenlees and Jack Ingles. The Board was also responsible for organizing the annual Labour Day Garden Party to be held at the school grounds. An always popular baseball tournament for local teams also took place with evening entertainment on a stage that had been set up behind the school.
The Community Hall was used frequently and for a variety of functions. Bi-weekly dances held from fall to spring were very popular including Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day dances. Often, the music was supplied by Miller’s band. Typically many of the villagers would go to the dance in Kilbride on Friday night and then to Waterdown for the dance on Saturday night. One of the long time villagers recalls going to Milton to a bakery to get some fruit bread that was sliced and served with coffee and tea at the dances.
The Hall was also used for Kilbride School’s Christmas concerts. Dress rehearsals were held the day before and then the concert was performed the following day to a packed house with standing room only.
Many a wedding shower, wedding reception, bazaars and community dinners were also held there. The last shower was held in 1962. Cubs held their meetings there as well. Scouts held their meetings in Carlisle and Girl Scouts had their meeting upstairs in the village store that was run by the Johnsons. The Good Neighbour Euchre Club met at the Hall to play cards.
In 1965, an action committee, the Kilbride and District Community Recreation Association, was established to promote soft ball leagues and games for the children of the Kilbride area. Their meetings were held in the Hall. The executive members of that Association were Allan Shaw, President, Robin Snow, Vice-President, Ted Coote, Secretary, Carl Gervais, Treasurer. Mrs. R. Odorico, Mrs. R. Harbottle, Gordon Harris (Cub Scout Leader), Mrs. J. Lillicrop and James Wetherelt rounded out the committee.
This recreation area was also very well used. Many a villager played baseball there or started their career by learning the basics on a T ball team. That recreation area was also the location for the Kilbride Country Picnics in the late 1980s and Kilbride County Hoedowns in the 1990s.
Unfortunately, the Hall building slowly declined, hardly unexpected considering its age. When Kilbride was amalgamated with the City of Burlington in 1958, the Hall was eventually expected to be brought up to City codes. While some work was done, the cost of building repairs, a new roof over the kitchen, upgrading for fire code compliance, the lack of washroom facilities, etc. added to its demise. Since the Hall was built on rock and sat on a small property, a septic system was not possible. The Hall missed out on much needed revenue because it could not have a liquor license due to the fact there was no washroom. Eventually it closed and the property was sold to Peter Burns and the building was dismantled. It is not known what happened to the wood.
Ward 3 Councilor at the time was Ella Foote who recognized the importance of recreation facilities for the constituents of her Ward. She was an ardent champion for her Ward in North Burlington ensuring that the community was supported with a new building in the park grounds behind the school. The official opening was May 12, 1975. Unfortunately, she passed away before the building was completed. It was named in her honour.
Contributing Author: Helen Callaway