A history book more than three years in the making will be unveiled next month at the Ridge Meadows Seniors Activity Centre.
Celebrating Seniors, A History of the Ridge Meadows Seniors Society documents the history of the activities the centre has provided to the senior community in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
The Ridge Meadows Seniors Society provides social support services, education and recreation programs to those aged 55 years and older.
It moved to its current location along 224th Street, just north of 121st Avenue, in 1999, the year it became a registered charity.
Before that, it was known as the Elderly Citizens Recreation Association and was located further south along 224th where the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre is now built.
However, there has been no detailed record of the society’s creation or its forebears, until now.
The idea for the History Project was first sparked in June, 2016., when Bonny Klovance, Bob Foster and Michael Buckingham decided to get a group together to begin the process of documenting the society’s history.
It was inspired by a collection of 10 photo albums that were gathering dust in the cupboards at the centre. Inside the albums were photographs and newspaper clippings dating back to the 1970s.
The actual project started in April, 2019, after grant funding of $16,000 was approved through an application to the Government of Canada New Horizons for Seniors Grant Stream. The bulk of this funding was for printing costs.
A team of five put it together – Sandra Penney, Linda Gardiner, Michael Buckingham, Audrey Hatch and Dick Drew.
Initially, Buckingham said, the team started to research the people who made the centre what it is today. But they were having difficulties finding information.
“The original idea was to find as much history of the personalities that had gone on in from the old days,” he said.
“We found that really difficult because the museum didn’t seem to have any reference material and the library was no good either. They had some archives but it’s not that much,” said Buckingham.
That’s when they decided to focus on the activities of the centre.
“We went through all the activities that we knew of and we went back and talked to all the people we could find that were connected to those activities,” said Buckingham.
“That’s where most of the stories came from,” he said.
The challenge of the project, said Maria Perretta, executive director of the Ridge Meadows Seniors Society, was that they had a collection of historical records in the form of photos, newspaper clippings, articles and other literature that had been accumulated over the past 19 years by senior volunteers and members.
The team had to design and create a historical publication for future senior generations, staff, and the community to understand the society’s past.
“After all, history is what shapes our future,” said Perretta.
The result is a, “glossy accumulation of everything since the building was started,” added Buckingham.
The book has already won an award. On Feb. 20, the Maple Ridge Community Heritage Commission awarded the Ridge Meadows Seniors Society history committee the Sheila Nickols Award for Heritage Teaching and Preservation.
Buckingham hopes the book will give others a foundation of the types of things seniors are involved with in the community.
“The fact that when you are a senior you are not hung out to dry. You are still active and still contributing and being useful where ever you can.”
The official unveiling of Celebrating Seniors, A History of the Ridge Meadows Seniors Society takes place at 2 p.m. on Mar. 6 at the Maple Ridge Seniors Activity Centre lounge, 12150 224 St. in Maple Ridge.
Guests will have an opportunity to meet the History Project team and receive a complimentary book at the free event.
Light refreshments will be provided.