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North River Notebook: Community centre a vital part of North River


For nearly a century the Central Community Centre has stood on the corner of Highway 311 and Hiram Lynds Road in Upper North River.

The Central Community Centre has been a part of the landscape in Upper North River for nearly a century. Formerly a one-room school house, the community centre has been operated by a small group of local volunteers since 1964. New board members are hoping to have the hall used more often as a rental space for birthday parties, showers and other activities. Matthew Scullion and his mom, committee vice-president, Amanda Perrin; president Tracy Kittilsen; and Savanna Scullion.

Originally a one-room school house, the structure was built on land previously owned by Timothy Lynds. Upper North River resident, Kay Franklin, was the last teacher to teach at the school before it was shut down in 1962.

"There were 11 students from grades primary to six," said Franklin. "I had at least one in every grade."

Franklin recalls that through the cold winter months, Ernie Upham would make the fire in the morning and she would keep it stoked throughout the day. She also remembers there was no plumbing so students had to use an outhouse. She and her students enjoyed putting on Christmas concerts and special performances for the community.

"The place would be packed," she said.

More than 50 years later, Franklin can still recall the name of every child she taught while at the school.

"There were the Lewis children, the Tattries, the Uphams and the Roodes."

In 1964 after the school closed, the land and the building were sold for $1 to a local board of trustees. The trustees named in the deed were Norman Tattrie, Wilson Lynds and Isaac MacQuarrie. All are now deceased.

Since that time the location has continued to operate as a community centre run by a small board of directors.

Past president, Elsie Tattrie, has been involved in many fundraisers for the building.

"We did auctions, bean sales, card parties and dances for the kids. Our main source of revenue now is by card parties."

Tattrie is proud of the many upgrades the committee has been able to make to the hall, including the addition of electric heat, an oil furnace, new siding and paint for the roof.

Tracy Kittilsen, the incoming board president along with Amanda Perrin, incoming vice-president, are hoping to see an increase in community use of the building.

"My hope is to have it used," said Kittilsen. "It is an affordable option for birthday parties and small wedding showers."

Kittilsen and Perrin live nearby the community centre. Both see a lot of potential in the former school. They are especially hoping to initiate more activities geared toward the children of the community. The hall can accommodate about 50 people making it a good choice for a small gathering. To promote community use the rental fee has been kept at $25.

"Just enough to keep the building repaired," according to Tattrie.

The popular Monday night card parties, which have been a staple at the hall for many years, will continue.

The next committee meeting will be held at the Central Community Centre on June 23 at 7:30 p.m.

For information on booking the Central Community Centre, contact Perrin at 902-956-2053.

Julie Johnstone is a married mother of two school-aged children, fiddle and step dance teacher, and a community volunteer. She lives in North River. If you have any community news to report, send it to her at jamesandjulie@eastlink.ca.

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