BEGINNINGS AND FUNDRAISING
In 1995 several members of the community approached the Pender Island Recreation and Agricultural Hall Association (PIRAHA) with a proposal. They offered to spearhead a drive to build a hall within the parameters of that original fact finding misson. The Hall Assn. gave the group the go-ahead to present a building proposal, budget and timeline. They quickly established the type of building ( inspired by the design of Karl Hamson’s workshop/barn, which had hosted several community barndances) and added a few more people to the building committee. With the acceptance ot the proposal a fundraising committee was formed and a goal set: to build a hall to lock-up.
The first fundraising committee worked with the theme of “Raising a Little Hall!”. Fundraising events were held; local groups and individuals donated thier time, money and materials. Karl Hamson donated a 3 acre parcel of land for the hall. Other residents donated the large trees needed for the log post and beam construction. Volunteers salvaged timbers from the reconstruction of the bridge linking North and South Pender .
Although the building was essentially to “lock-up” much needed to be done to bring it to a truly usable state. The committee decided to regroup and refocus.
A second fundraising committee formed. From October 1998 until June 1999 they worked at raising the monies for “The Final Haul”. More events were held: dances, the Penducky Derby, the sale of firewood…. Grant applications went out. The Pender Island Community Services Society, which runs the Nu-to Yu store, donated an amazing $80,000 overall. Grant monies arrived from various public offices and private foundations. Some estimate the building’s value at close to $1,000,000, demonstrating that not just money built the Hall, a lot of love also went into it. Countless volunteer hours contributed greatly to the constuction of the Hall and landscaping of its grounds.
Joe Donahue and Michael Barnes began drawing the plans for the Hall in 1996. As a public building many factors required hours of consultation with engineers and government departments. During the summer the trees for the log post and beams were felled and hauled to Karl Hamson’s field for storage over the winter. The salvaged bridge timbers for the roof trusses were planed, milled and graded. Machinery moved onto the site; clearing and trenching continued into the Fall.
In 1997 work began with the pouring of the foundations. Recycled glass filled the foundations in preparation for the floor slab. Volunteers prepared the logs, peeling and sanding them. The huge logs rolled back and forth as the crew cut and notched them. Next the posts were fitted to the logs and a crane lifted the assembled units upright on their footings. Log joists spanned the beams. The flooring, recyled from the former Yarrows Shipyard in Vancouver, was laid down and the assembled trusses lifted into place. Finally the metal roof spread over the skeletal structure and building paper wrapped the walls. Awaiting further funding the Hall sat until the Spring, a string of Christmas lights outlining its roof.
Work continued throughout 1998 – 99. Volunteers poured the slab for the lower floor and worked on the grounds. Interior walls were erected; wiring, lighting and plumbing installed. Local builders constructed magnificent sets of stairs at both the main and the rear entrances. Drywall went up and cabinets were installed.
Although work continues on the Hall it is essentially complete. The Bear Mother Project welcoming poles and Pender Islands Museum Society display completed the entrance. The kitchen was filled with commercial quality equipment. In April of 2000 the Hall officially opened.