The community around Ruskin hall, in operation since 1923, is rallying to save it.
Elaine Hall, treasurer of the Ruskin community association, said it costs $8,500 a year to operate the hall, built to replace an old two-room building that burned down in 1922.
The community association owns the building and the land, which was donated by William Gilchrist Laing, a carpenter, in 1927.
The community association was incorporated on Dec. 4, 1930, to take ownership of the land and Ruskin hall, through volunteer subscriptions and donations to manage.
The association maintains that mandate today, and to “promote and advance the interests of harmony, fellowship and community development in the community of Ruskin.”
Ruskin sits on the border of Maple Ridge and Mission, near where the Stave River flows into the Fraser River. It was named around 1900 after the English art critic John Ruskin.
Ruskin elementary used to rent the hall to use as gym space, but that ceased when the school closed.
Hall said the association rented the building out for other purposes, such as dances or weddings or movie shoots, but the demand for such has waned. Getting table rentals for flea markets and craft fairs is troublesome, she added, so the hall sees less of those.
Members of the community association are getting older. New members will new ideas are needed, but Hall understands that families who have moved to the area are busy.
Still, she thinks the heritage hall is worth having.
It still hosts the annual pancake breakfast with Santa.
“That’s really popular,” Hall said.
But it doesn’t make any money.
The association holds regular meetings each month at the hall, at the corner of 96 Avenue and 284th Street, as well as events such as yoga or belly dancing.
It seats 84 for a banquet or 114 for a theatre setting. It costs $350 a day on weekends. The kitchen, with two stoves and a fridge, is available for $60.
“We’re just kind of struggling at the moment to keep the doors open,” Hall said.
The association has enough money, at the moment, to keep it open until January.
“So we have to do something or the hall will be shut down,” Hall said before heading to the hall for her Monday janitorial duties.
“It’s just something, we want to save the past.”
So members of the Ruskin Community Hall Association are looking for ways to raise funds to keep the old hall alive for future generations to enjoy.
Their first fundraiser is the Value Village FUNDrive, from which all items must be in good, clean, and salable conditions. Items accepted include clothing, accessories, shoes, purses, belts, jewelry, books (excluding encyclopedias and library books), CDs, DVDs, electrical items, toys, games, kitchen items, knick-knacks, and sporting goods.
For Hall, Ruskin hall has fond memories, such as in 1997, when she rented it for her husband Phillip’s 50th birthday.
“My thoughts were that this hall was wonderful and I knew I was going to become a member, which I did, and have been ever since,” Hall said.
They rented it again in 2003 for their daughter’s wedding reception.
Their family holds an annual get-together at the hall now.
“What a great way to keep in touch with the family,” Hall added.
“Over the years, there have been many dances, parties, community pot luck dinners, flea markets, Christmas events that I’m sure all of the members – past and present – remember fondly.”
• Drop-off for Value Village FUNDrive is Saturday, Dec. 16, from 2-4 p.m. Email email@example.com or leave a message at 604-462-9739.