|Back to Home||Feature Article - July 26, 2012|
Harrowsmith S & A Club Facing closureby Julie Druker
For close to six decades the Social and Athletic Club has been a central social hub in Harrowsmith and the surrounding community. Club members have worked tirelessly for years to bring a countless number of free and low cost events to area residents and their families.
Now, with many of its long-time members either retired or deceased, it was recently decided by its remaining directors that the club has no other choice but to close its doors due to a shortage of manpower.
Kim Gow, who is the club’s current vice-president and secretary, wants more than anything else to avoid that closure and is inviting all persons of the same mind to come forward at their next meeting, which is to be held on Monday August 13 at 7:30PM at the club.
Gow believes that this will be the very last possible chance for supporters of the club to come together in one final last-ditch effort to expand the membership, which has dwindled over the last years to no more than ten. Gow remains hopeful that support at August’s meeting will allow the club to remain open. “Since the last meeting, when the decision to close was made, there has been an outpouring of community support and many residents have stated that they want to see the club remain open,” Gow said this week. “Because the club is the only one of its kind in the community and one of the only places that offers such a wide variety of programs and free events for families and their children, I and numerous others want to see it continue operating as it always has - as a social club that provides numerous opportunities for the community to come together.”
The S&A Club was opened in the early 1960s, back when baseball and marching bands were all the rage. The club opened first as a means of supporting local baseball, which was the number one community sport at that time. Harry Snider was the club’s first president and it was under his leadership that popular programs began, which included the marching Majorettes and a very popular drum and bugle band under the direction of Martin Eys. Other activities that eventually evolved included seniors’ euchre, the annual fair (which eventually became today’s Canada Day parade and celebrations), bingo, youth dances and more.
The building, which for years was fondly referred to as “the chicken coop”, was originally a chicken slaughterhouse owned by Claude Snider, who lived in a house next door to it. The club’s first members purchased the building from Snider for a small fee and paid him back in manageable monthly installments from funds raised at various club events.
Over the years the building has undergone numerous renovations and now boasts washrooms and kitchen facilities.
Val Ruttan of Harrowsmith, who has been a member of the club since its early years, has very fond memories of the club, especially back in the early days, but she also understands why at this point its existence is under threat. “So many older members who have been involved since the beginning have retired recently, and as a result there is real problem getting the manpower necessary to run the events”, she said. “The roughly 10 members that we do have left are not even enough to maintain the necessary voting quorum at our meetings. So though it would be very sad to see the club close, unless we get a significant outpouring very soon and a significant influx of new members at this upcoming meeting, it looks as though we will have no other choice but to close, “ she said.
Gow is hoping to see many faces at the August 13 meeting, which will begin at 7:30 pm. The club is located at 4041 Colebrook Road in Harrowsmith. For those who cannot attend the meeting but who still want to offer their support through membership or by volunteering, contact Kim Gow at 613-372-0018 or firstname.lastname@example.org