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Dateline Cowichan: OAP breaks new ground with seniors housing

Members of the Native Sons of B. C. Prevost Post No. 10 at the Stone Church work party, holding a piece of roofing. From left are: Jim Evans, George Evans, Chief Elwood Modeste of the Cowichan Band, Alphonse Billy and Danny George.  - courtesy Cowichan Valley Museum and Archive
Members of the Native Sons of B. C. Prevost Post No. 10 at the Stone Church work party, holding a piece of roofing. From left are: Jim Evans, George Evans, Chief Elwood Modeste of the Cowichan Band, Alphonse Billy and Danny George.
— image credit: courtesy Cowichan Valley Museum and Archive

Fifteen years into the 21st century, we often read of people planning and achieving innovative housing options for seniors — unassisted, assisted and gentle care, to name a few.

But 55 years ago housing dedicated to elders was rare, and many people simply didn’t understand the need. Accolades were tossed to Duncan branch of the Old Age Pensioners Organization, who in April 1959 announced it had bought a property next to Berkey’s Corner for a boarding house for “elderly” people of the district. This had been done in the name of the OAPO’s incorporated society, Elderly Citizens’ Homes Association which had raised $6,000 with almost $4,000 going to finalize the land purchase followed by a ceremonial mortgage burning. But what really brought people’s attention to the news was the OAPO’s strong fundraising methods and the community’s willingness to help.

“...other branches in the province put on a tea…and donate the proceeds, maybe on $100 or so to the housing association existing in their district,” reported Duncan’s OAPO president H. Kenyon and Mrs. J. White. With no association, Duncan began from scratch, forming the ECHA in 1955. Since then, funds had been raised through bazaars, tag days, raffles and draws.

1959: dances

Mr. and Mrs. Stan Baker won the novelty dance at the British Columbia Forest Products square dance round-up held in the construction cafeteria. Mrs. Kay Morton won a draw; caller was Robert Swailes.

1959: inns

The Maple Inn, Maple Bay, under the management of Mrs. And Mrs. T. Treasure, was among those honoured as 20-year members of the Duncan Hines Institute. They had been recommended by the institute every year since 1939.

1959: campfires

During a campfire at the Quamichan Scout Hall, the boy scouts of the Cowichan District Dance Group presented a scout billfold engraved in gold to Abel Joe in recognition of his help in teaching them Indian (sic) dances.

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