… when Rose and Bill Herdman and brothers Leland and Denzil Mahan visited Gladys and Roy Kilpatrick at their home. That night, it was suggested the two districts in the area – Bolingbroke and Althorpe – should unite and form a club with a hall for meetings and entertainment.
Three days later, these folks, along with Donald Norris, met again and started making plans. They determined the size of building they would need (30’ x 40’), estimated the cost of materials, and chose the temporary name of Sherbrooke Community Club. A membership fee of $1 was collected from each member.
They wondered how they could introduce the idea of a community hall to the two communities, and build a treasury fund for the construction. Host euchre parties, that’s how! Each adult player would pay $.25, children: $.10.
The first euchre was held on January 24th with 12 tables, in a vacant building in Bolingbroke.
The refreshments served that evening comprised of 8 loaves of sandwiches, 3 cakes, and 3 dozen cookies.
Ladies 1st prize (donated by Rose Herdman): Stationery. Men’s 1st prize (donated by Gladys Kilpatrick): Wool socks.
The net profit: $12.59 for the building fund!
In June, the Brooke platform (consisting of 6 – 12’ by 12’ sections) was purchased by tender for $41, and assembled on Bill Herdman’s property.
Many members helped to repair and ready the platform for the inaugural dance.
Dance bills were printed by the Westport Mirror and distributed throughout the area.
Alfred Blair was hired (for $5) to police the dance.
Ida and Aubrey were asked to locate a supplier of ice cream.
And the Maberly Agricultural Hall was reserved in case it rained.
We are having a dance on the fourth of July
So wax up your shoes and let your feet fly
The music is furnished by The Hayshaker Band
And as you well know, they’re the best in the land!
Your friends will be there and your friends’ friends too
And they’ll think something is wrong if they don’t see you
You will have a good time I know, if you try
At our mammoth dance on the fourth of July
On July 4, 1947, feet flew on the new Bolingbroke platform to music provided by the Hayshakers Orchestra.
By all reports, a good time was had by all.
There were now 29 members, and the building fund was $53.09 richer.
Having spent much of my childhood at the former Mahan farm which is adjacent to the ABC Hall, I read with great interest the history and evolution of the hall. I can remember vividly attending dances, strawberry socials and wedding receptions in this iconic structure during the 60s and early 70s with my Mahan cousins and my aunt and uncle, Florence (Wesley) and Orville Mahan. I can state emphatically that the information is correct although, I would have like to have seen Orville Mahan, (1916-1975 ) and the middle brother of Leland and Denzil acknowledged as it was he who donated the property that the hall stands on. As the nephew of Florence Mahan, (1917-1993), I have noticed the group photo of some of the original board members, my aunt Florence who is standing on the far left has been incorrectly identified as Marcella Noonan. Mrs. Noonan is the woman standing third from the left.
Ian B. Carruthers, Winnipeg, MB (nephew of Florence Mahan and Lanark County Wesley family historian)
June, 1949: The name was changed to The Althorpe Bolingbroke Community Club, also known as The ABC Club.
July, 1949: A profitable fundraising dance featuring Don Messer and his Islanders was held at the Perth Arena.
June, 1952: Land was acquired for the new hall from Orval Mahan for $15. The deed was registered.
Finally, in December, 1953, the hall was completed. A Christmas party on December 23 was the first function held in the new hall.
June, 1963: An addition (a kitchen with cupboards and sink) was built onto the hall.
In 1973, the ABC Club applied for a government grant under the ‘New Horizons Programme for Senior Citizens’ to help build another addition for an oil furnace and indoor plumbing, and drill a well.
In May, 1977, land for a parking lot was purchased from Florence Mahan.
July, 1978: The sign over the door was painted (photo at right) by local artist, Larry Bracegirdle, for $75.
Over the years, the club hosted dances, euchres, parties and socials to raise money to pay off the new hall. Members gathered at the hall to celebrate Christmas, bid neighbours farewell, and welcome newcomers to the community.
Since its construction, the hall has been managed over the years and operated by the ABC Club members and volunteers, who have performed all the routine maintenance and carried out most of the capital improvements. The hall became the central hub for emergency workers during the 1998 ice storm.
In 2003, the association applied for and received a $25,000 Trillium grant, which enabled numerous upgrades to the hall, including wheelchair accessibility for the entrance and washroom facilities, and updates to the kitchen facilities. The building has since developed into a fully functional community hall, with a well and septic tank, a kitchen, heating and air conditioning, and telephone service. In 2010, fundraising efforts allowed for the floor to be refurbished.
As the only community centre in a 10km radius, the hall has become over the years the home for numerous community organizations and events.
Numerous members of the community are offering up their know how and talents at a number of regular scheduled events. New regular events at the hall include Yoga classes, a coffee house, the Women’s Circle of Friends group, and the “Saturday Seekers”, an inter-faith Saturday Sunday school for youngsters organized and run by Rev. Micheline Montreuil. These, together with other long-time regular gatherings for euchre, the CPHC Seniors exercise class and Diners’ Club, and the Seniors Club along with the monthly Saturday Night Potluck Jams/Open Mic, make the hall a very busy place these days.” Julie Druker, Frontenac News, November 15, 2012
As the neighbourhoods around it changed over the years, the club was renamed the ABC Association, to reflect all members of the Althorpe Bolingbroke community, newcomers, seasonal and longtime residents alike. We are most grateful for all the folks who have come forward to help keep the hall humming and our community active.
We mean to serve our community as well in the next 50 years as the pioneers in the ABC Club have done for the past 65!
Martin Yates, President