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Club History

The White Rock Scottish Country Dance Club had its first meeting on September 26th 1954 with thirteen members present. Dancing began on October 5th 1954 with Thomas Bingham of Vancouver as teacher being paid $5 per evening plus fare. R.M. Dey of New Westminster was pianist at $3 per evening plus fare. The first members were Thomas Irwin, & C.A. Caldwell, & Robson, & Robert Stanhouse, & H.E. Harvey, & R.A. Ivaney, & S.K. Mackay, Ms Sheila Carmichael and J.S. Ramage, who acted as Secretary with Caldwell as President. Dancing was held every second week at the White Rock Hotel Hall at a fee of $3 for six meetings.
At the Annual Meeting on March 29th 1955, Shelia Carmichael was elected to the Executive and was made an 'Honorary Member' in 1980, for 25 years faithful service; Ms. Carmichael continued as an active dancing member until the early 1990's and although not currently an active member Ms. Carmichael still lives in White Rock and supports the club whenever she is able. The 'drop in fee' per evening at this time was 60 cents. Nine dancers were selected to perform at the 1959 Burn's Night in Cloverdale, and again at a concert given by the St. Andrews and Caledonian Branch. At both performances they danced Dalkeith's Strathspey and The Ninesome Reel. Membership had increased to twenty-four.
The teaching was taken over by Davidson, with Wintersteen as pianist. Elsie and Jack Miller joined the club and Elsie remained an active member till 1989 when she was made an 'Honorary Member'. In 1957 dancing nights were increased to weekly with no change in the fee and a special $1.50 per course fee for teenagers and a reduced drop in fee of 50 cents. Prospective members had to be approved by the committee before their fee was accepted. Dancing was moved to Ocean Park Community Hall and a record player was purchased in 1958 which greatly enhanced the dancing. Much discussion was held regarding recruitment of new members
On October 22nd the Scottish Country Dance Society of British Columbia invited the White Rock Scottish Dance Club to affiliate with the parent group at a fee of $10 per annum. The invitation was accepted. In November $40 was invested by & Miller in records for the club as until that time records had been loaned by the Miller's from their own collection. Twenty records plus one long-playing record were purchased from Scotland 'the old country' for $25.
It was estimated that the cost to each person per night was 18.5 cents and the bank balance at that time was $164.90. This was the year Miss Jean Milligan head of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society visited Vancouver. Several members attended a special dance class in Vancouver and were impressed by her method of teaching. Miss Jean Milligan and Stewart of Fasnacloich, Scotland had played a major part in the formation of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.
The club subscribed to the 'Thistle' magazine, edited by Hugh Thurston who was a member of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society and also of our own club until 1992. The Thistle was published four times a year with articles of interest to Scottish Country Dancers and also some dances were described. A short review of the activities of the White Rock Scottish Country Dance Club was sent to Thurston for publication in 1963. In April 1963 a club member attended a meeting of the local 'Council of Women' which was started in 1893 by Lady Aberdeen to raise women's issues through the Provincial, National and International level. Any women's organization could send a representative and it was suggested that the club's involvement in this would be advantageous and informative. Five ladies were appointed and the annual fee of $5 forwarded to Council.
A locked cupboard was provided for the club in the Ocean Park Community Hall so that dishes could be purchased and stored for use by the club. Several demonstration dances were performed for various local groups. In 1967 annual membership in the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society was $2.25 and advertisements for new members were placed in local newspapers and on the radio.
Classes were held at Peace Arch and District School and in 1971 in Peace Arch Elementary School where John Allan of Vancouver was appointed to teach Scottish Country Dancing for two successive weeks followed by two more weeks by Elsie Miller.
The Vancouver Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society held their 'Eighth Annual Banquet and Ball' on February 12th and seven members of the White Rock Club attended. A beginner class was started and this class was subsequently integrated with the more experienced dancers. Sheena Ellis took over as teacher in 1975 and the following year fees were increased and the class divided into two sessions; the first session, prior to Christmas costing $10 and the second session after Christmas $5. A children's class was also started in 1975 with Sheena Ellis as teacher and this proved very successful.
On March 7th, Jack Miller, a long time devoted and energetic member of the club died. He had been instrumental in developing a love for Scottish Country Dancing into the hearts of many people.
Elsie Miller, Jack Miller's wife, continued as teacher until the appointment of John Allan as full time teacher in September 1974.
Maureen Lyon was appointed as teacher for adults and Robin Leach for children. Advertising for new members was stepped up in 1982 not only in local newspapers and radio but also the Blaine Newspaper and Welcome Wagon, several lower mainland newspapers, TV. Channel 10 and posters were also distributed. Membership remained at 25 to 30 people. Elsie Miller and Sheila Carmichael were elected 'Honorary Members' for 25 years of faithful service to the club. Several school gyms and cafeterias were used for classes from 1980 onwards and applications for these had to be made in good time as several were unsuitable for the club's needs. Suitable dance shoes were stressed to the membership and ladies were requested to wear a dress or skirt.
A demonstration group named the Heather Belles was formed and it performed at a number of senior care facilities, church and club functions. The practice and training of this group is held separately from the club night.
The Heather Belles demonstration group was selected to dance at Expo '86 in Vancouver. Accompanied by Peter and Murray Lyon on the bagpipes the Heather Belles danced on four occasions at Expo '86 and a special dance named 'The Call of the Pipers" was written by teacher and leader Maureen Lyon.
When several men joined the group, it was renamed the Tam o' Shanter Dancers who have since visited Scotland in July/August 1994, 1998 and again in 2003. On these occasions they were ambassadors from Canada and took with them greetings from the Mayors of Surrey and White Rock. In 1994 the Lord Provost of Edinburgh welcomed the Tam o' Shanter Dancers at an official 'Afternoon Tea'. In 1998 they were welcomed at several civic lunches and evening functions at Kilmarnock, Ayr and Dumfries. In 2003 their trip was highlighted by 98� F weather at Loch Lomond.
1989 to 1994
The club rented the gym at Sunnyside Elementary School, an ideal location not only because of the excellent wood floor for dancing, but also because it provided kitchen and storage facilities. Having the parking lot adjacent to the entrance made the carrying of equipment in and out simple and easy. Due to changes in Janitorial Contract rules in 1997 class hours were cut back from 10 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so the club decided to relocate to the Star of the Sea Hall on Pacific Avenue in White Rock.
On April 8th, the White Rock Scottish Dance Club celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a Grand Ball when over 150 Scottish Country Dancers from the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and Washington State joined them at the Gizeh Temple Hall in Burnaby. Five years later they celebrated their 45th Anniversary 'Tartan Dance' on September 24th.
Due to a minor rental cost increase and small reduction in membership in 1998 it was decided to once again relocate to the 'Box Gym' at Earl Marriott Secondary. While the gym floor is suitable, there are no storage or kitchen facilities and carrying equipment from the very busy parking lot in and out presents a challenge. Our membership once again rebounded and is currently between 35 and 45 with some members paying semi-annually and others drop-in fee. Membership dues are $70 per annum or $35 semi-annual and drop-in fee is $4 per evening.
In the summer of 2000 the club decided to become a Registered British Columbia Society.
In 2001/2002 Douglas Brown was elected President and because the club found that the Earl Marriott Box Gym had many challenges such as cancellations whenever the school had a concert the gym became a dressing room, whenever the club had a social event the kitchen facilities were inadequate, contact was made with the Surrey Parks and Recreation Department to try to find another suitable facility. As a result of this contact the Club Executive were invited to attend a Surrey Parks and Recreation Meeting. The Executive turned up in force at the meeting with members representing many countries of the world to make the point that Scottish Country Dancing was not only for Scottish Nationals. As a result of this meeting we were offered The Sullivan Hall. This community run facility on 152/Johnston Road at 64th Ave., has the benefits of a wooden dance floor, a kitchen, a balcony area and a reasonable rent.
For the first time in our history, in August we entered a float in the White Rock Torchlight Parade. As this was our first time, we took a 'simple' approach as can be seen from the photograph at the left. A local Rotarian and friend of Past President Douglas Brown not only loaned us his business truck but also constructed the frame for our 'float' and drove the truck from start to finish. A combined group of dancers from both our club and the Tam o' Shanter Dancers followed behind the float and danced (in 2 shifts) the full length of Marine Drive (2.5K). Ahead of the float three members proudly carried a 'new' club banner created by Incoming President Cheryl Jorgensen.
After the previous year's success in the White Rock Torchlight Parade, we once again entered, however, this time we took a simple approach with a classy red convertible decked out in our banners and tartans. Well, it paid off because we won third prize!!! The intent was that we would follow one of the pipe bands, however, the band was a 'no show' so we ended up dancing to our own music.
In October, the Club celebrated its Golden Jubilee with a very successful 50th Anniversary Ball at the Star of the Sea Hall in White Rock. Music was provided by the Vancouver Fiddle Orchestra and a plaque was presented to the Club by the Mayor of the City of White Rock, Judy Forster.
Maureen Lyon was honoured at the Spring Tea for her 25 years of dedication as the Club Teacher. Maureen was presented with a celtic pin. Alex Jappy provided the music for this very popular event. A Red Dance was held at the Club in February, a Green Dance in May and an Annual Picnic at Redwood Park in September.
The highlights of the year were the Annual Spring Tea in May, with over 100 dancers at the Star of the Sea Hall, and the White Rock Spirit of the Sea Torchlight Parade in August. For the Parade, the Club was joined by a group from the Tam o' Shanter Dancers. A flatbed truck, duly decorated and lit with Christmas lights, provided a dance floor for a continuous display of Scottish Country Dancing over the entire length of the route. A Halloween social and a Christmas Social were held in the fall term.
A Green Social social was held in March. Mary Ross, from Victoria, provided the music at the very successful Spring Tea. Minister of Fun, Clive Griffiths, organized highly competitive events at the annual Annual Picnic. Once again the Club entered into the White Rock Torchlight Parade, in conjunction with the Tam o' Shanter Dancers. The group was honoured with a third place finish in the Musical category. In September, the drop-in fee was raised to $5.00 in order to encourage full membership. The members responded with a record 40 signing up for term membership. A Halloween social was held in November.
A traditional Burns Social Burns Social was held at the end of January at which Jim Nicol Addressed the Haggis.. The Spring Tea featured the music of John Carmichael from Glasgow, Scotland. John provided very lively music for the enthusiastic dancers. Isobel Beck and Janice Lowe were crowned "Bocce Champions" at the Annual Picnic at Donna and Doug Beattie's home. The Club teamed up with the Tam o' Shanter Dancers to take first place in the Musical Entries category at the White Rock Spirit of the Sea Torchlight Parade; on the deck of a flatbed truck, Club Members danced the "Hang On" reel, devised by Maureen Lyon. Several members joined in the British Invasion Parade held at Central Plaza in White Rock. A group of members, as well as a number of dancers from other clubs, went on a 7 day dancing cruise to Alaska in September. Each afternoon, Maureen Lyon conducted mini-wokshops in the lounge. Ghouls and Goblins overran Sullivan Hall during the Halloween social in November.
The annual Burns Social featured the Address to the Haggis delivered by Duncan MacKenzie. At the annual RSCDS "Love to Dance" event, teacher Maureen Lyon was presented with the RSCDS Vancouver Branch Award (Maureen RSCDS Award) in recognition of her contribution to Scottish Country Dancing and other Gaelic activities over the last 30 years. John Carmichael returned from Glasgow to perform at the 55th Celebration. There was a record attendance of 130 dancers for this year's main event of the season. Margaret MacKenzie and Janice Lowe were crowned ping-pong champions at the annual Annual Picnic. Once again, with the Tam O'Shanter Dancers, the Club participated in the White Rock Spirit of the Sea Torchlight Parade and took second place in the Musical Entries category. Robbie Burns, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Mary Queen of Scots and a crofter spinning wool rode on a decorated float while Braveheart, Robert the Bruce and an entourage walked alongside and entertained the spectators. Charlie Chaplin made a surprise appearance at the Halloween Social. A St. Andrews Social and a Christmas Social rounded out the events for the year.
The winter and spring socials included a Burns Social at which Duncan MacKenzie once again Addresssed the Haggis, a Red Social and a Green Social. The Club celebrated the success of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games with an Olympic Celebration that culminated with the formation of 5 interlocking circles, representing the symbol of the Olympics. The Annual Spring Tea once again featured the fantastic music of John Carmichael from Glasgow. While in town, John also performed at the last class of the season, the Club Ceilidh at the Crescent Legion and at Duncan MacKenzie's monthly Ceilidh at the Scottish Cultural Centre. The Club was sad to say Adieu to Donna and DougBeattie who were moving to Chemainus. Evelyn and George Zaklan hosted the annual Annual Picnic at their heritage farm site. The first social of the new dance year was held at the end of September to welcome new members. This was followed by a Halloween Social, a St. Andrew's Social and a Christmas Social.
Monthly socials included a Burns Social, a Red Social, a Green Social and a Tartan Day social. Accordionist Gordon Shand, from Scotland, joined by local drummer Bill O'Donnell, played for the Spring Tea Class and the Spring Tea. The MacKenzie's hosted the Annual Picnic. Members of the Club joined in a celebration of John Lang 80th Birthday in September and a Halloween Social was celebrated with a customary costume parade. The Club was proud to host the annual RSCDS Lady Aberdeen Tea Dance at the Scottish Cultural Centre on Remembrance Day. A mini social was held at the end of the St Andrews Class and the fall term finished up with a Christmas Social.
The very popular monthly socials were continued including a Burns Social, a Red Social, and a Green Social. The format for the Spring Tea had to be changed because of the unavailability of the Star of the Sea Hall. Because it was held on a Saturday evening, it was renamed the May Dance featuring renowned accordionist Jim Lindsay, from Scotland, joined by local drummer Bill O'Donnell. The Annual Picnic was held at the home of Evelyn and George Zaklan. Fall socials included a "Bring a Friend Social" evening, Halloween Social, Saint Andrew's and Christmas Social. A Fall workshop was held in October.
The new year was kicked off with a Burns social with Hugh Aspinall addressing the Haggis. As in previous years, a Red Social and a Green Social were held in February and March respectively. The Spring Workshop was well attended and the Tartan Players played for the annual May Dance. Once again, Evelyn and George Zaklan hosted the Annual Picnic. Fall events included a Bring as Friend social in September, a Fall Workshop, a Halloween Social in October and a St. Andrew's Social in November.
Hugh Aspinall once again addressed the Haggis during the Burns Social in January. Additional socials were held in February and March for Heart month and St. Patrick's Day. In March, a group of members performed at the Celtic Fest at the Cloverdale Museum and a very successful, well attended Spring Workshop was held. The Club celebrated it's 60th Anniversary with a gala ball ( 60th Anniversary Ball Excerpts) in early May. Many enthusiastic dancers were treated to an unbelievable evening of music provided by Marian Anderson on accordion, Max Ketchin on drums and Jim Nichol on keyboard. The band came all of the way from Scotland to play for the Wednesday class, a Club ceilidh and the gala ball. The weather was fabulous for the Annual Picnic which was once again hosted by the Zaklan's. A "Bring a Friend" evening was held in September, a Fall Workshop and a Halloween Social in October and a Blue and White St. Andrew's evening in November.
For the third consecutive year, Hugh Aspinall kindly addressed the Haggis during the Burns Social in January. A Heart Social was held in Februrary. The Annual Spring Workshop, a St. Patrick's social and a performance at the Celtic Fest at the Cloverdale Museum were held in March. The Annual Ceildh and May Dance featured Lindsay Weir on accordion and Colin Garvin on keyboard from Scotland (). The fall session included a Bring a Friend social, a Halloween Social, the Annual Fall Workshop and Dancewear Sale, a St. Andrew's scial and a Christmas Party.
For the fourth consecutive year, Hugh Aspinall addressed the Haggis at the Burns Social in January. Heart party and St. Patrick's socials were held in the winter. The Annual Spring Tea Dance featured the fabulous Tartan Players; the music was superb, the weather was perfect and the view of Semiahmoo Bay from the windows of the Star of the Sea Hall was breathtaking. In the fall, a Bring a Friend Social, a Halloween Social, the Annual Fall Workshop and Dancewear Sale, a St. Andrew's Social and a Christmas Party were held.
For the fifth consecutive year, Hugh Aspinall addressed the Haggis at the Burns Social in January. A Heart social was held in February and a St. Patrick party in March. The May Dance featured the music of the Tartan Players. Margaret and Duncan MacKenzie hosted the Annual Picnic in September. Once again a Fall Workshop, a Halloween Social, a St. Andrew's social and a Christmas party were held.
For the sixth consecutive year, Hugh Aspinall addressed the Haggis at the Burns Social in January. A Heart social was held in February and a St. Patrick party in March. Mary Ross provided great accordion music for the Annual Tea Dance in May. The dance was held once again in the Star of the Sea Hall despite ongoing rumours that the site is to be re-developed. In September, the Club welcomed back John Carmichael from Scotland to play at the season opening social. This was followed by a Fall Workshop, a Halloween party and a Christmas party.
For the seventh consecutive year, Hugh Aspinall addressed the Haggis at the Burns Social in January. A Heart social was held in February and a St. Patrick party in March. For the first time, the annual dance in May was held at the Scottish Cultural Centre. As this was the 65th anniversary of the Club, a special catered buffet was served. Dancing was to the music of Alan Small, accordion, and Gemma Donald, fiddle, from Scotland. This was followed by a Fall Workshop, a Halloween party and a Christmas party.
For the eighth consecutive year, Hugh Aspinall addressed the Haggis at the Burns Social in January. Unfortunately, the dancing season was cut short in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual dance had to be cancelled for the first time that anyone could remember. However, members still had the opportunity to interact during online Halloween, Christmas and Burns Zoom meetings .
Following an 18 month hiatus brought on by the COVID-9 pandemic, dancing was finally resumed in September. Competition for use of Sullivan Hall resulted in the hall only being available to the Club for 3 Wednesdays per month. The fall social events were low key under the circumstances. However, a Christmas Social was held.
The winter sesson wound up with a social in late May to which members of other clubs were invited. The traditional Halloween and Christmas parties were held in the fall.
This year, Hugh Aspinall engaged three other members of the Club to assist in addressing the Haggis. The Red party was held to celebrate Valentines Day and a Green party for St. Patrick's Day in March.