History

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Thanks also go to Betty Stewart, Ted Viersen, Roy Billiald, Shirley ... Councilor John Mayo, who worked closely with Mrs. Ferguson on the project and ..... Due to an estimated $6 million cost the project was divided into two parts. ... Page 20 ...

A History of

Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre

Fortieth Anniversary Edition June 19, 2014

Acknowledgements

This History of Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre was prepared in 2013 by Bob Thomson, an Advisory Board member 2008-2013. The resulting work herein was from interviews held, committee minutes and newspaper clippings read, and hundreds of photos viewed. Our thanks go to Bob for his researching diligence and producing a much needed history. Thanks also go to Betty Stewart, Ted Viersen, Roy Billiald, Shirley Glauser, and Bob and Marion Cunliffe for allowing to be interviewed and later proof reading. We regret that Norma F. Baker was too ill to participate.

Chapter One: The Beginning

The buzz throughout the Township of Ancaster in 1972 was the prospect of the Township getting town status. The Province was planning to create the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth. The buzz in the hamlet of Alberton was that in June of 1972, the Wentworth County Board of Education, because of declining enrolment, decided to close Alberton Public School. This was not the first school to close in Alberton. The school had replaced the original one-room school as a new tworoom school in 1954. A third classroom was added in 1958. The ball diamond on the grounds also served the youth of the community for their baseball league and summer programs. The Township of Ancaster was very interested in acquiring the building because it had become very evident through presentations to Council that there was a need in the community for an active centre for its senior citizens. Then Councilor Barbara Ferguson led the project. "It will be an interesting project once it gets going," said Mrs. Ferguson. "Not only will it serve the senior citizens of the town, but it will also be a recreation ground for the youngsters in the area." The four-acre site contained a basketball court and a baseball diamond. The Township had operated a summer recreation program there in previous years. Councilor John Mayo, who worked closely with Mrs. Ferguson on the project and later a board member, said "The centre will be run by the senior citizens themselves eventually, but we want to get them off to a good start with everything they need. A funds drive will soon be undertaken to raise money for operating expenses. We have received a number of unsolicited donations already and we hope to raise at least $3,000 before we open". After some months of negotiations between the Council and the Board of Education, in April of 1973 the purchase was completed and the property deeded to the Municipality. Councilor Ferguson’s plan was to form a committee representing the neighbouring communities of Alberton, Ancaster village, Carluke and Jerseyville to plan a centre. On June 12 1973, through Bylaw 73-38, an Advisory Board of interested citizens was appointed by Council and immediately set to work. Reeve Arthur Bowes opened their first meeting, June 19th, where discussion on future plans and grants available from Federal and Provincial Governments was held. The original Advisory Board members were: Councilor Barbara Ferguson, Chair; Councilor George Ross; Alice Morton, Secretary; Naomi Oakes; Theo Brooks; William Meisels; Sanford Bonham; Nancy Collins; Edward Viersen; Betty Stewart; and Norma Baker. Roy Billiald was later appointed Treasurer. Four of these members served more than 25 years, Betty Stewart (26), Norma F. Baker (26), Ted Viersen (26) and Roy Billiald (27). Township employees, Anne Stewart, Program Director, Robert G. Morrow, Coordinator-Engineer, and Lois White, Township Treasurer, were also assigned to assist the Board. The initial task was to determine the programs, facilities and budget required in order to apply for a Federal New Horizons grant.

A grant of $9,788 was approved and applied against the $18,743 first year cost of instructors, caretaking & cleaning, carpet, kitchen appliances, furniture, piano, kiln, snooker table, and program equipment. Under the 1973 Provincial Winter Works Incentive Program the building was cleaned, redecorated and the grounds put in order. Walls were painted in bright hues; new curtains and carpets were installed. A public meeting was held in July 1973 to promote participation from the public and service clubs. Committees were formed to contact organizations for support, to make preparations for the opening ceremony, and to purchase furnishings. Members of the Advisory Board themselves came out to clean and repair the blinds. The front entrance to the building was closed off and used as the office. The present wood shop was used as the main meeting room, party room and for card playing. The room now used as a computer lab was used for the kitchen. Closed off pass-throughs into the main room are still in evidence. What was to be the name of the centre? Mr. Meisels suggested a number of names for the group including Senior Achievement, Zest for Life, and Academy for Mature Living. The name selected unanimously by the Board was "Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre". A book depository in conjunction with the Wentworth County Library was also operated from the centre to serve both the seniors and the surrounding community. Volunteers from among the senior citizens operated the library. January 1, 1974 the predominately rural Township of Ancaster, as well as the village of Ancaster itself became known as the Town of Ancaster. The Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre (ASAC) was officially opened during Senior Citizens’ Week, June 19, 1974.

Original Advisory Board

Barbara Ferguson, Alice Morton, Naome Oakes, Nancy Collins, Betty Stewart, Norma F. Baker, Theo Brooks, Stanford Bonham, William Meisels, Ted Viersen, John Mayo

Chapter Two: Early Years

In September 1974, Phillip Kelly took over as Recreation Director and Margaret Cullen was the part-time Program Supervisor. From the beginning the Centre offered all sorts of recreation to seniors: sewing skills, quilt making, ceramics, woodworking, exercise, shuffleboard, badminton, card parties and special dances. There were over 200 members. Membership fees were $2.00 for residents of Ancaster. It became clear to the Board that activity coordinators were required to oversee the day to day programs. Guidelines were set and on Feb. 7, 1975 a meeting of the members was called to elect a House Committee. The original House committee members were: Dr. J. Homfray Roderick, President; Albert Day, Vice President; Roy Billiald, Treasurer; Alice Johnston, Secretary; Margaret Cullen, Program Supervisor; Special Committees Chairmen: Georgina Zimmerman (Food); Kay Layfield (Bridge); Margaret Didmon (Decorating); Gertrude Gowland (Special Events); Jean Webb (Euchre); Albert Day (Movie Night); Norma F. Baker (Dance Night). Phil Kelly attended their meetings as well. The decision to sponsor a foster child was made in March of 1975 and to this day the sponsorship of a child continues. In the early years funding for this sponsorship was by donations only. Nancy Collins, followed by Myrtle Maskell, corresponded with the children for several years. For Senior Citizen Week, June 15-21 1975, an extensive program of events was organized including a bake sale, a male fashion show and beauty contest, a dance with Roy and his boys, and an ‘Olympics’ with competition for men and ladies in horse shoe pitching, hitting a golf ball, egg throwing, shoe finding for ladies, wood sawing for men and team sports: T-ball, blow ball and orange passing. Best of all was cow milking for ladies and a gloved version for men. In October 1975, because of the rural setting of the Centre, the Optimist Club of Ancaster donated a 15-passenger van. Janis Badour became the van driver. Visits to other senior facilities and mystery tours were regular events. Fern Lucas replaced Janis September 1979 and the Town replaced the van in August 1984. In September 1975, Kirk Hunter replaced Marg Cullen as Program Supervisor. But Kirk moved on and Norma F. Baker was appointed fulltime Administrator in February 1976. In May 1978 Paul Harrison became Director of Recreation for the Town of Ancaster. In 1976 the center held the first of several annual variety shows. In an effort to recreate a community a t mo s p h e r e , t h e y hosted an old time Garden Party and dance. The August evening event attracted close to 200 people of all ages. The party, which took place outdoors under clear skies, began with pony rides and a fishpond for the children. Harold Abrams also provided demonstrations of archery. To satisfy hungry appetites, the Ancaster Optimists' Club provided a booth, which offered hot dogs, coffee, pop and fresh roasted corn. At 8:00 p.m. the Variety Show got underway, featuring a roster of talented performers, with Earl Baker entertaining the audience as M.C. A wide range of musical selections were presented by the Billiald Boys, the Bowman Trio, the Musicmen, a young rock group called "Lotus", soloist Reg Bryant, and a duet featuring Jerry DeBoer on banjo and Harry Hoover on guitar.

Following the show the Musicmen set the mood for the outdoor dance, with Maurice Fay acting as M.C. and leading the square dancing calls. ASAC was asked to represent the Town of Ancaster at Brantford’s centennial in 1977 with a float. Willie Miesels worked many hours on the project. When a flatbed trailer became no longer available, Roy Billiald loaned his farm wagon. In April of 1978, Jim Henry became tour co-ordinator for the Centre. Jim arranged many excellent trips over the next 18 years. Most of these he arranged personally including scouting trips to far away places. On Saturday, De-cember 9, 1978 the annual Christmas dinner and party was held at Marritt Hall at 8 pm. The price was $3 and members brought either pies, salads or frozen vegetables. It was expected that male members would peel the potatoes. Immediately after dinner, cards were played in the dining room at the hall while dancing started in the main hall. By 10 pm, all volunteer help in the kitchen was finished and everyone moved into the main hall for the party and entertainment with Santa Claus and his helpers. Dancing continued following the party. A second major activity took place Sunday when a Christmas hymn sing was held at 3 pm. Audrey Collins directed the choir through some selections on which members had been working very hard, while Mrs. Naomi Oakes was the accompanist. Special guest musicians were Helen Rutherford and Erland Lyons. A potluck supper followed. Hymn sings such as this were regular occurrences. At a 1978 Board meeting, Barbara Ferguson pointed out that since the Advisory Board was first appointed, several vacancies had come from death and moving, and temporary appointments were filled in. A newspaper ad was placed and those wishing to fill the positions applied in writing. In January 1979 the new Board members were: Audrey Collins (20 years), Nancy Collins (9), William B. Fox, James D. Henry (18), Howard MacDonald (15), Naomi Oakes (11), Dr. J. Homfray Roderick, Betty Stewart, Myra Thelwell, Edward T. Viersen, James Wagstaffe, Councilor Barbara Ferguson, and Councilor John Mayo.

Early Years

Fifty Honored Outstanding contributions to the Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre as it entered its fifth year of operation were recognized one evening in June 1979 with the presentation of some 50 awards to residents of Ancaster and the outlying districts. Heading the list of recipients were Her Worship Mayor Ann Sloat, Councilor Mrs. Walter (Barbara) Ferguson, serving as Chair of the Advisory Board for the Centre; Dr. J.H. Roderick, Chairman of the House committee and Mrs. Roderick; Mrs. Allan (Betty) Stewart of Carluke, a former township councilor; and Gerard McDonald, Editor of the town's community newspaper, "Ancaster News". Others were Clifford Higham, James Collins, James Wagstaffe, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth (Fern) Lucas, Jeff Collins, Mrs. Wilbert Bradt, Cliff Oberlin of Brantford, Ernest Sidaway, Glenn Badour, Edgar Baker, Stewart Bervin, Mr. and Mrs. James (Mary) Henry, Roy Anderson of Hamilton, Mrs. Adam Norsworthy, Roy Billiald, Oscar Stager, Mrs. F. Rumsey, Mrs. John Wilkie, Mrs. Norman Cunningham, Mrs. James Bennett, Sr., Mrs. M. Mathews, Mrs. M. Barnes, Mrs. J.W. Kennedy, Arthur Whipps, Fred Morgan of Brantford, Mrs. C.J. (Audrey) Collins, William J. Morrow, Peter Vanderlee, Mrs. E. McArthur, Mrs. Daniel (Joan) Doyle representing The Valley Journal, Mrs. Harry (Beth) Hoover, Mrs. Ross Heath, William Fox, Mrs. W.J. Summers, Mrs. T.W. (Ida) Beach, Ted Vierson, Mrs. James (Naome) Oakes, Mrs. Theo (Vera) Brooks, Willie Meisels and Mrs. L.C. (Nancy) Collins. A dinner preceded the presentation of awards. Making a special trip from Ottawa, for the occasion was Geoff Scott, (PC) candidate for the Federal Riding of Hamilton-Wentworth in the next Federal election. Mayor Sloat took occasion to offer appreciation to Mrs. (Norma F.) Baker, Administrator of the Centre, who along with Miss Margaret Didmon, Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Badour and the Misses Laura Jean Kent and Nancy Faye Kent arranged the programme. Mrs. (Janis) Badour impersonating a Hollywood actress performed admirably. The Misses Kent delighted those attending with a novelty musical skit with Mrs. Oakes at the piano. Mr. McDonald, speaking on behalf of the management of the newspaper congratulated the Administrator for the success the Centre had obtained and extended congratulations on behalf of the recipients. Mr. Sidaway paid a special tribute to Mrs. Baker for her excellent leadership and direction in the operation of the Centre. Dr. Roderick expressed appreciation to the Centre's management as Chairman of the House Committee.

Taken from the Ancaster News , June 1979

People of Interest

Dr. J. Homfray Roderick, Roy Billiald, Albert Day, The Musicmen, James Henry, Margaret Cullen, Audrey Collins, Ann Sloat

Chapter Three: Expansion

By the fall of 1977 it became obvious that more space was needed to accommodate the growing membership. Membership was 350 and daily attendance had grown to more than 10,000 per year. Jim Henry suggested an extension at the back of the building. Jim along with architect Art Taylor, Dr. Roderick and Norma Baker began a study of requirements. In August 1978 the Board authorized the erection of the proposed extension to commence on sufficient funds being raised by members of the Centre and community at large. The Town Council gave tentative approval. There would be no taxpayer money; one-third from the Ministry of Recreation and Culture (CRCA), one-third from the Province (Wintario), and one-third from the Centre itself. A gigantic fund raising campaign was started with Jim Henry and Ash Turner as co-chairmen. Some of the activities the committee worked hard at planning and executing included special card parties, participation in Heritage Days selling coffee, pie and crafts, assisting with the Grand Finale Dance at Spring Valley on June 17th, a Super Raffle Draw with beautiful prizes donated by members and friends of the Centre, a mammoth auction, card-a-thon with sponsors for each hour played, Ancaster Fall Fair and 50/50 Draw, the sale of coffee and pop and draw tickets at the Band Concert the Ancaster High and Vocational School Concert Band held for the Centre, an exhibition ballgame with Council members, the preparation of bag lunches for the South-Wentworth Plowing Match and sale of food at the match, and the sale of raffle tickets at the annual Bazaar Day at the Centre Mall. Grange and Queens Rangers public schools both donated generously to the funds as did the student body of the High School in addition to the band concert. After five years, with membership at 450, the Centre had raised their $85,000, architect Victor Pala contracted and with the support of the Town, Wintario, Ministry of Culture and Recreation and a New Horizons grant, the $247,000 addition of the Main Hall (plus kitchen and washrooms) was officially opened Wednesday, March 14, 1984. At the time of the ceremony Councilor Ferguson was ill and could not attend. A videotape of the event was created and shown to her. Throughout the first fifteen years of the Centre, a multitude of programs, activities, demonstrations and trips were obviously enjoyed as membership soon grew to over 1000. With Membership rapidly growing to 1400 and discussion of expansion being had, it was again decided to study Centre requirements. Fundraising began immediately and progressed very well. Phase I which included the Billiard Room, Dance/Exercise Room, storage rooms, additional parking space and a pitched roof over the original section; and Phase II which included the office, boardroom, library and lounge, and the canopy over the back patio added more than 50% to the existing floor space. A Building Committee made up of Ted Viersen (Chair), Norma F. Baker, George Robinson, Bob Cunliffe, John Livingstone (Consultant), Shirley Glauser (Administrator) and Victor Pala (Architect) oversaw the project. As before, cost of Phase I was covered by an infrastructure program with one-third of the cost to be shared by each of three levels of government. Phase II was included with a loan from the Town. The Centre was to raise the Town’s share and pay back the loan, as there was to be no tax increase for the Town of Ancaster. The Federal Government and Provincial Government each paid $121,950. The Centre repaid the Town of Ancaster for the remainder of the $523,500 expansion shortly after construction was completed. In May of 1996, the second expansion was officially opened.

It was an unfortunate event later in August when a member ran their car into the wall outside of Secretary Pat Mitchel’s desk, caving the wall in about six inches. Major repair was needed. One of the more successful fundraising efforts was the “Brick Wall” on the left side of the main hallway of the Centre. For a donation of one hundred dollars to the Building Fund, the donor’s name or the name of a loved one was put on a plaque, which was then glued to a wooden block and permanently fixed onto a brick on the wall. There were 647 bricks in total made available. Shirley Glauser, the wall her idea, would say “That’s a $64,000 wall and it was built one brick at a time”. They also created a “Community Support Wall”. Donations from $1,000.00 to $4,999.99 had a bronze plaque put up on the Community Support Wall; donations from $5,000.00 to $9,999.99 had silver and donations from $10,000.00 had gold. Later in 2000 the Advisory Board approved a storage addition to the main Hall. The entire $36,000 cost was paid for out of the newly created Special Projects Fund. The fund was spent again in 2003 when it was decided to replace the original school front windows with windows that matched the new additions. Ted Viersen and Bob Cunliffe did the design and ASAC oversaw the work themselves. Within the following few years some upgrading was done to upgrade the washrooms, remodel the kitchen, lounge and boardroom, create a music room, add a front porch, and install lighting in the newly paved parking lot. Although several projects received financial assistance from the province’s Elderly Persons’ Centre Act grants, total ASAC expenditure between 2003 and 2012 was over $212,000. Thoughts of further expansion continued from 2008. This time the hope was to improve the social aspects of the Centre. Again a committee was formed to evaluate the needs. Emphasis was on a new Main Hall and reception area. In 2012 an architect, Bill Curran, was contracted to assist with the conceptual plan. Due to an estimated $6 million cost the project was divided into two parts. The first part at $1.87 million was a café, lounge, reception area serviced by a new kitchen and a new staff office. With financing from the federal government, the city of Hamilton and ASAC itself for $500,000 each, plus $250,000 from the province, the project’s first part got underway and was completed by April 2014. At this point the second part, a new Main Hall, waits for funding.

1996 Expansion

Chapter Four: Then and Now

Throughout the first 25 years the membership rose from the original 240 to 2300, annual attendance grew to over 51,600 with 15,000 hours of volunteer time. Throughout this period Ancaster Town Council continued to appoint the Advisory Board members. Additional Board members included: John Livingstone (1981 (14 years)), William Boyce (1986), Frank Hubel (1986), Vyvyan Rheinlander (1989), George Robinson (1989), Bob Cunliffe (1995), Marion Cunliffe (1995), Bev Puskas (1995), Bob Hart (1998), Honey Wilson (1998) Chair Barbara Ferguson passed away in 1985, but is remembered by her photo on the honour wall and the Board Room table purchased with remembrance funds, plus the naming of the Board Room, “Barbara Ferguson Board Room”. John Livingstone served as Chair the following 10 years and Ted Viersen chaired from 1995 to 2000. Council representative from 1986 was Barbara’s son Lloyd Ferguson and in 1995 son Murray Ferguson. Due to health concerns Norma F. Baker retired as Administrator in 1984 and was replaced by Shirley Glauser. Fern Lucas retired as van driver in 1989 and was replaced by Wilma Groen. Pat Mitchel started her term in the office in 1991. In 1994, the position of volunteer receptionist started. Volunteers were always much appreciated from the very start. None of the special events could run as smoothly without the effort of numerous, sometimes unseen, volunteers. Volunteer involvement included - leading classes, helping with major projects, tours, or agreeing to teach at a reduced rate, or being responsible for very busy trippers, looking after cards, doing dishes, sending out get well wishes, helping with The Journal, distributing our special events posters, landscaping, etc. In 1979, Jim & Audrey Collins offered the use of their new swimming pool. For many years the float for Heritage Days was built in Ted Viersen’s driveway. The lorry provided by Murray Ferguson. Elsie & Art Whipps maintained the gardens for a number of years in the late 1980’s. The Puskas family followed them for even more years. In 1987, Don Burgoin was the volunteer leader of the woodworking class when the Centre was approached by the Heritage Committee of Ancaster and asked if the seniors would tackle making them some wooden outdoor Christmas decorations for the Town. Normally they would only ask for one or two but because the Olympic Flame is coming through and stopping in Ancaster Christmas Day, Ancaster was going all out to make it a special year. So, they asked Don to make an 8-foot Santa, two 8-foot candles, a 15-foot snowman and an 11-foot snowman. Don recruited his daughter, Gloria, to help draw the details on the wood, ready for painting. Alice Ritchie was also prevailed upon to help in the painting. Don still had the task of putting these pieces together to make the outstanding project complete, except for Town erection. Another memorable task for volunteers was in April 1987. Premier David Peterson paid a visit for potluck. On his way to Hamilton from an engagement in Brantford, stopped by the Centre and was treated to lunch with about 70 members. He said he was impressed with the Centre and especially the food.

As with any organization, people and events come and go. April 1980 saw the fourth and last variety show. In June 1983, the Centre held what might have been their first Strawberry Social for Heritage Days at the old town hall. 1986 brought the first annual Wentworth Senior District Games with much help from Centre staff; Pat Hamilton started exercise classes (27 years and still at it); and the foot clinic also started. At the end of 1992, Norma Y. Baker (13 years craft instructor) retired and painting instructor Beth Hoover (15 years) retired. The following year, Woodshop instructor Don Burgoin (10 years) retired and Jack Borthwick came on. October 1996, Jim Henry retired as trip coordinator and when asked who would replace him replied, “Betty Stewart”, much to Betty’s surprise. Betty went on to raise almost $100,000 for the Centre. To the end of 2012 trips had raised about $165,000. In the spring of 1993 the golf program at Oak Gables Golf Club started with 270 members. By 2002, membership grew to 470 and the annual golf tournament was raising over $13,000. Music always played a big part at the Centre. In the early years Audrey Collins lead a choir and Naomi Oakes accompanied. They sang at local churches and special Centre functions. The Musicmen, a local dance band lead by Willie Meisels, played regularly at the Centre in the 1970’s and were therefore known as a senior citizens orchestra. But as Willie pointed out “The group has been playing together for some time. We don’t practice and we play without sheet music”. They changed their name to “The Ancaster Musicmen” to serve as goodwill ambassadors for the whole Town. The Centre membership was well represented with Willie Meisels (piano), Roy Billiald (violin), Bob Frewin (saxaphone), Bruce House (guitar), Erland Lyons (euphonium), Dave McCulloch (trumpet) and Dr. Don Edwards (banjo). In May 1993 Dr. Ken Dechert started a new dance band at ASAC. Later in 1997, Jim Hewitt led it. By 2000, the ASAC "BIG BAND" Dance Band had grown to 27 members with a music repertoire in excess of 120 tunes. During that year, the Band played ten engagements. The most prestigious engagement - resulting from an audition - was the Band's musical appearance at the 12th Annual Royal Bank Seniors' Jubilee Concert at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall. As a result of that Roy Thomson Hall 'gig', the Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre and its Band were recognized in a province-wide forum as well as being acclaimed in the Hamilton Spectator and on CTV. The Band, then officially known as the "Silver Swing" Big Band Dance Band, was invited to participate for a second and third consecutive year. The Band paid tribute to their own Frank Shaw who, over the years, had beautifully scored and arranged over 60% of the tunes they played. The band left the Centre in 2004 and moved to Burlington’s Music Hall. Art Vogt formed a men’s barbershop group in 1993 with ten members. By 1995 they consisted of 26 voices with an expanded repertoire and a new name “The Albertones”, which ironically was also the name of a young women’s choir from the Alberton area several years earlier. Art Vogt also formed a women’s choir in 1996. They called themselves “The Silverbelles”. Art resigned in 1999 under poor health. Bud Windsor carried on with the men and Erla Jerome then John Harrison with the ladies. Also in 1999, Barbara Brogly, starting with eight voices in May and reaching 20 by yearend, formed a “Fun Chorus”.

Joyce Scruton borrowed a set of hand bells in 1995 to start a hand bell group. In 1998 the Centre purchased a set of tonechimes and “The Tonechimes” were on their way. One year after starting the hand bells Joyce formed “The Second Wind” recorders group. All these choirs and groups visit churches and retirement homes regularly to perform for their members. June 1994 brought twentieth anniversary celebrations. The first Art Show & Sale was held in which thirty-seven paintings were sold and raised a total of $1207.25. The major event was a cabaret style show, Jubilee '94, at the Ancaster High & Vocational school. They had over 100 performers rehearsing and practicing for this event, some for only seven weeks. On two of the hottest and most humid days of the year they rehearsed and then put on a two and a half hour show for their fellow members and friends of the Centre, showing some of the talent and fun had at the Centre. This show was a real members’ effort, with outsiders only being used in some of the technical aspects (lights and sound.) Not only did they put on a great show and had a lot of fun but also raised $2000 for the Building Fund. The Centre's Jubilee at Redeemer College was the major event of 1999. It marked the 25th Birthday of the ASAC. By combining the many talents of ASAC members and staff, a wonderful entertaining show was created. A video was produced to record this historic event. The Provincial Government provided a grant to help offset part of the cost of this project. The grant was offered to honour 1999 as being the International Year of the Older Person. The fall of 1997 brought the computer age to the Centre. Three computers were purchased but had to be setup in the Board Room due to lack of classroom space. Lessons were offered and 185 members signed up. One year later the computers were moved to their present location in the Boutique Room and the boutique moved to the Lounge. In 1999 a trial of using a taxi service instead of the van proved successful. The purpose of the trial was to find an alternate, economical method to bring ASAC members without their own transportation to the Centre. Over the years, the usefulness of the van had diminished, as fewer members required this service. At the same time, the administrative duties had greatly increased for the ASAC staff. Wilma Groen had gradually taken over more and more administrative duties, as well as driving the van. The new service meant she was full-time in the office. In their 25 years, the Centre’s membership rose from 240 to 2300, annual attendance reached 51,600. Now they were to prepare for future years.

The buzz throughout the Township of Ancaster in 1972 was the prospect of the Township getting town status. The Province was planning to create the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth. The buzz in the hamlet of Alberton was that in June of 1972, the Wentworth County Board of Education, because of declining enrolment, decided to close Alberton Public School. This was not the first school to close in Alberton. The school had replaced the original one-room school as a new two-room school in 1954. A third classroom was added in 1958. The ball diamond on the grounds also served the youth of the community for their baseball league and summer programs. The Township of Ancaster was very interested in acquiring the building because it had become very evident through presentations to Council that there was a need in the community for an active centre for its senior citizens. Then Councilor Barbara Ferguson led the project. "It will be an interesting project once it gets going," said Mrs. Ferguson. "Not only will it serve the senior citizens of the town, but it will also be a recreation ground for the youngsters in the area." The four-acre site contained a basketball court and a baseball diamond. The Township had operated a summer recreation program there in previous years. Councilor John Mayo, who worked closely with Mrs. Ferguson on the project and later a board member, said "The centre will be run by the senior citizens them-selves eventually, but we want to get them off to a good start with everything they need. A funds drive will soon be un-dertaken to raise money for operating expenses. We have received a num-ber of unsolicited donations already and we hope to raise at least $3,000 before we open". After some months of negotiations between the Council and the Board of Education, in April of 1973 the purchase was completed and the property deeded to the Municipality. Councilor Ferguson’s plan was to form a committee representing the neighbouring communities of Alberton, Ancaster village, Carluke and Jerseyville to plan a centre. On June 12 1973, through Bylaw 73-38, an Advisory Board of interested citizens was appointed by Council and immediately set to work. Reeve Arthur Bowes opened their first meeting, June 19th, where discussion on future plans and grants available from Federal and Provincial Governments was held. The original Advisory Board members were: Councilor Barbara Ferguson, Chair; Councilor George Ross; Alice Morton, Secretary; Naomi Oakes; Theo Brooks; William Meisels; Sanford Bonham; Nancy Collins; Edward Viersen; Betty Stewart; and Norma Baker. Roy Billiald was later appointed Treasurer. Four of these members served more than 25 years, Betty Stewart (26), Norma F. Baker (26), Ted Viersen (26) and Roy Billiald (27). Township employees, Anne Stewart, Program Director, Robert G. Morrow, Coordinator-Engineer, and Lois White, Township Treasurer, were also assigned to assist the Board. The initial task was to determine the programs, facilities and budget required in order to apply for a Federal New Horizons grant. A grant of $9,788 was approved and applied against the $18,743 first year cost of instructors, caretaking & cleaning, carpet, kitchen appliances, furniture, piano, kiln, snooker table, and program equipment. Under the 1973 Provincial Winter Works Incentive Program the building was cleaned, redecorated and the grounds put in order. Walls were painted in bright hues; new curtains and carpets were in-stalled. A public meeting was held in July 1973 to promote participation from the public and service clubs. Committees were formed to contact organizations for support, to make preparations for the opening ceremony, and to purchase furnishings. Members of the Advisory Board themselves came out to clean and repair the blinds. The front entrance to the building was closed off and used as the office. The present wood shop was used as

Chapter Five: Transition

From the beginning the Town staff administered the bank accounts and budgets for the Centre’s program activity. After some discussion in June 1976 the Board agreed that these accounts should be transferred to the Centre treasurer, Roy Billiald. Bank accounts were in place and all program activity has been handled in this manner since. Also being discussed at that time was the necessity for a constitution. A committee was formed consisting of Dr. Roderick representing the House Committee, Mrs. Ferguson, the Advisory Board, Mrs. Kit Patterson and Mrs. Norma Baker as Directors, and Mr. Kelly as Recreation Director and the Council representative. After review of other constitutions, a simple but adequate draft was presented and received Board approval in November. Following the 1995 financial audits, the Town’s auditor wrote a letter advising that changes were needed to the accounting procedures to meet the Ontario Municipal Act. Trish Sweeney, Treasurer for Town of Ancaster was asked to prepare a draft document that would provide an accounting system to meet the Act’s requirements, and would be agreeable to both Town Council and the Board. Bob Cunliffe had conversations with two treasurers regarding changing this procedure. They put the onus on the Board to prove that any new procedure would be better and secure. Policy and procedures were defined in detail to outline proof that the centre could conduct its own finances. Sufficient proof was given and the Town agreed to the change. As a result the fiscal yearend was changed to December for 1997 and a Finance & Purchasing Committee was formed in April 2000. At the 1997 OACAO conference, the Oakville centre stressed the need for centres to have a letter of agreement with their communities. Following the OACAO suggestion and with the advent of amalgamation, it was agreed that a written constitution and letter of agreement with the Town, formalizing the relationship between ASAC and the Town of Ancaster was needed. The Advisory Board appointed a Letter of Agreement Committee, consisting of Bob Cunliffe (Chair), Marion Cunliffe, Murray Ferguson, Shirley Glauser, Paul Harrison, Bob Hart and Honey Wilson. Their tasks were to create a written constitution, record the operating policies and procedures of the Centre and define the relationships of the members, Advisory Board, Staff and the Town.

Using the Oakville constitution as their guide, the Cunliffes created a constitution first draft for ASAC by August 1998. Draft number three reached approval at the Advisory Board November 1998 meeting. In the new year, the Board decided to hire consultant Ray Applebaum to help the Board finalize the Letter of Agreement. This Letter of Agreement would be presented to the Town of Ancaster for approval. Ray Applebaum reviewed with the Advisory Board the final Constitution containing only two small amendments and the Letter of Agreement based on the Constitution. At their meeting, September 15, 1999, the Advisory Board accepted the proposed and the Letter of Agreement and Constitution were presented to Ancaster Town Council in October 1999. The Town Council accepted the Letter of Agreement in November after three amendments were made. On February 2, 2000 approximately 300 ASAC members, the Advisory Board, Deputy Mayor Ann Stoat, CAO Jim Thorns, and Councilors Murray Ferguson and Luanne Robertson attended a special ASAC meeting.

This was an information meeting. It was explained that the Constitution and Letter of Agreement with the Town of Ancaster better prepares the ASAC for the coming amalgamation with the New City of Hamilton in 2001. A call was made also for volunteers to serve on a Finance and Purchasing Committee. Town of Ancaster By-law 2000-64, The Letter of Agreement, was approved, signed by Board Chair, Ted Viersen, and enacted by Ancaster Council June 19, 2000. The By-law was intended "to establish the parameters for decision making authority and define the relationship between the Parties." This By-law was very important because it became a By-law in the New City of Hamilton on January 1, 2001. Then came the task of developing policies and procedures that would provide written guidelines for the staff, Advisory Board and the ASAC membership. A Policy and Procedures manual was started in consultation with consultant Ray Applebaum. This task proved to be an ongoing task through subsequent years. In accordance with the Letter of Agreement, the Finance and Purchasing Committee, a subcommittee of the Advisory Board, was established in early 2000. This committee was formed to prepare and review draft budgets with the Centre Treasurer and Staff; review and approve monthly financial statements; and support the Centre Treasurer in determining short and long term investment strategies. One of the Finance and Purchasing Committee's first projects was to computerize the ASAC accounting procedures in order to prepare the annual financials for their Program and Special Projects accounts. Computerized financial statements were first presented for 2002. In October 2001, the Advisory Board and Carolyn Kovacs, City Area Supervisor, discussed reviewing the Constitution in light of amalgamation. A Constitution Committee was appointed and chaired by Bob Cunliffe. At the AGM, May 15, 2002, the revised Constitution was approved by the membership. Earlier, the OACAO presented a set of standards that could be used to create uniformity in the operation of older adult centres and to address the concern that standards may be mandated by the Provincial government for certification and grant money received through the Elderly Persons’ Centre Act. ASAC formed a Standards Committee in May 1999 to compare the ASAC standards with the OACAO standards manual. The committee estimated that the ASAC had a 99% compliance rate. The Ancaster Seniors Achievement Centre now had new procedures of operation to carry them into the 21st century.

Past Chairs & Councillors

Barbara Ferguson, John Livingstone, Lloyd Ferguson, Murray Ferguson, Ted Viersen, Robert Hart, Al Gordon, Gwen Morrison, Bernard Willem, Margot Bailey

Chapter Six : 21st Century

The first ever election for the ASAC Advisory Board was held on October 4th 2000 with more than the quorum of 110 members present. Previously the Ancaster Town Council appointed Board members. A Nomination Committee was formed in January 2000 and asked to compile a slate of candidates to be presented to the members. Councilor Murray Ferguson presided over the election. Seven new Advisory Board members were elected for a three-year period. Due to a decision by the Ancaster Town Council, new Board Members would only serve for two three year terms consecutively. Many thanks were given to outgoing Board members George Brownlie, Bev Puskas, George Robinson, Betty Stewart, Norma F. Baker and Ted Viersen for their dedication and contributions to the Centre. Betty, Norma and Ted had each served on the Advisory Board for twenty-six years. The new ASAC Advisory Board took office on January 1, 2001 with Bob Hart as Chair. At December 31, 2000 membership was 2300 (391 honorary), attendance was 51,624; and there was 15,000 hours of volunteer time during 2000. In that January, the cafeteria began serving lunch as a fund raising endeavour. The cafeteria has always been staffed with volunteers and raised over $81,000 in the following 13 years. With the City of Hamilton’s amalgamation January 1, 2001, the Centre became part of the Hamilton Recreation Division. Members from the City's four major seniors’ centres could participate at the Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre as full members and vice versa. Moving from a well established partnership with a smaller Town Council to a new relationship with a much larger bureaucracy and a new set of rules presented a bumpier road. Change became the challenge. Full time staff was reduced and it became necessary to rely more on part-time employees. But the way was worked out and the City began to recognize and appreciate the character of the Ancaster centre. At the end of 2001, Shirley Glauser retired as Administrator of 17 years and Wilma Groen was established as Recreation Co-ordinator. A party was held at the Centre for Shirley with cake, gifts were presented and a board meeting skit for entertainment. Bob Cunliffe played the role of Shirley. Advisory Board chairs continue to be selected by the members of the Board. These members followed Bob Hart - Al Gordon (2003), Gwen Morrison (2006), Bernard Willem (2007), Margot Bailey (2009) and Al Gordon (2011). Chair Al Gordon restructured the Board’s subcommittees in 2004 creating five – Finance & Purchasing, Building & Facilities, Administration & Standards, a new Program & Activities, and Communications. The Building & Facilities committee has been very instrumental in overseeing maintenance and upgrades to the facility. The Communications committee completely revamped the quarterly Journal and renovated the website in 2006. Ad hoc committees have been created for such activities as long range and strategic planning, archives and facilities planning. In 2004 the 30th Anniversary was celebrated in good style! Several anniversary events were held throughout the year, capped by a 30th Anniversary Jubilee held at Redeemer

College in October. The Jubilee was a success in every way! The participants, and there were more than 120 people on stage for the 'final bow,' demonstrated their talents while group leaders coached from the wings and stage directors marshaled the players onto the stage. Out of the shadows of the ‘Big Band’ a group was formed in 2005 and they named themselves The Golden Swing Band. Instruments have varied over the ensuing period, including Ken Dechert on saxophone. But in a smaller way, they played for special functions, at the Ancaster fair and at area retirement/long term care facilities. Partnerships have played an important role with ASAC throughout its history. Aquatics were available through the City’s Aquatic Centre, golf through the Oak Gables Club, a walking club at Walmart, ice-skating at the Firestone Arena, fitness at Cedar Springs Rotary Fitness Centre, etc. These partnerships have proven successful. Changes to personnel continue. In October 2012 Wilma Groen retired. A large sendoff reception was held at the Firestone Centre where several groups from ASAC performed on stage. Shari Farrell replaced her as Recreation Coordinator in November. The fortieth anniversary of ASAC brings a declining membership, 1120 at the end of 2012. But the class attendance has continued upward, 61,600 for 2012, as are the number of volunteer hours (6,930) being donated from these fewer members. Indicating the actual usage of the Centre has not changed and programs have stayed with the times. Senior centres will play an important role as the percentage of seniors increases. Although on the threshold of Boomer retirements, competition from retirement homes and fitness centres as well as an “I’m not senior yet” attitude are keeping the numbers down, ASAC has decided to remain in their rural setting, expand their facilities and provide a welcoming environment. Theirs is a “build it and they will come” attitude. We wish them continued success.

2004

2008

2012

Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre 622 Alberton Road South Alberton, Ontario L0R 1A0 905-648-3466 www.asacseniors.ca