In April 2019, the Merville Soldiers’ Settlement community will be 100 years old. Time for a birthday party! But first we have to organize it, right?
On Thursday, March 29th, the Merville hall will be open for the first meeting for the planning of the event. From 7:00 to 8:00, the Merville Community Association Board will go over plans for renovating the 3 acre site to get it ready for the big centennial celebration in October, 2019.
We will be forming committees to take on various aspects of the project. Committees will range from site construction and landscaping; to communications; to inviting a member of the British Royal family to attend. There will be lots of room for anyone who would like to sign up and get involved. You can even make up your own committee if you think that we have forgotten something.
The Big Yellow Merville hall and grounds, sitting in the geographic middle of Merville, is the ideal venue to host the celebration. The three-acre site, which has served the community well for over 70 years, includes the large, yellow community hall, two heritage buildings (a 103 year old church and a manse), a playground and a large field.
The property, however, could use some upgrading. What better time to get the joint gussied up than to celebrate a 100thyear birthday party. To that end, the Merville Community Association (MCA) Board has decided to build on its community mandate and expand the site to also become a tourist attraction with a heritage and ag-tourism theme. http://mervillehall.ca/
Capital costs for the upgrades are estimated to be $200,000 and will include:
- redoing the kitchen to VIHA standards, building an accessible ramp and kitchen entrance
- renovating the stage, PA system, lighting and canteen
- restoring the two heritage buildings to create a heritage theme and added space for rentals
- developing heritage storyboards to capture the rich history of the area
- landscaping the greenspace and creating a sustainable gardening operation
- building a small timber frame shed to store antique farming and logging equipment
- installation of solar panels
This expansion is anticipated to provide a number of benefits such as additional revenue, local employment, facilities and community participation. The MCA, while applying for grants, is also developing a community fundraising program targeting individuals and organizations to provide cash and contribution-in-kind. It also seeks committee members to plan and organize operations and skilled contractors to complete projects. Fundraising site: http://mervillehall.ca/donate/.
In 1919, returning soldiers from WWI drew lots for free parcels of rock and stump covered land in the new Soldiers’ Settlement community of Merville (“city by the sea”). Many ancestors of these original settlers still live in the Comox Valley. In September, 1919, Edward, Prince of Wales, visited the new hamlet of Merville, opened the first school and planted a commemorative tree. We will be extending an invitation to the current royals in England to pay the community a second visit in 2019. Merville also has a sister community in Merville, France, that will be approached to send a representative in 2019.
1919 was a big year for this area and we would like to make 2019 an equally important date for this historic part of North Vancouver Island and the Comox Valley. From a few hardscrabble settlers in 1919, the Merville area now boasts over 8,000 inhabitants. Let’s celebrate!
So we hope to see you on Thursday, from 7:00 to 8:00pm at the Big Yellow Merville Hall. Bring your ideas and we can get cracking.