About Us

Harmony Hall and Gibsons Seniors Society

The Harmony Hall Activity Centre is managed by volunteer members for the benefit of our community. The Gibsons Seniors Society operates the building.

Hall Hours

Monday to Friday 7am to 7pm

Saturday/Sunday 8am to 8pm

Our vision:

Harmony Hall is a welcoming place for seniors to gather to pursue a variety of activities that promote friendship, wellness and FUN!

The purpose of the society is:

Donations

As a Society, the GSS is limited in its ability to receive small donations.  However, if individuals wish to make donations of $500 or more, these can be made to the GSS through the Sunshine Coast Foundation and donors will receive a tax-deductible receipt.

https://sunshinecoastfoundation.org/

History

Established in 1958.

The Gibsons Seniors Society is a non-profit, member driven society established in 1958. Harmony Hall was built by the members of GSS on land leased from the Town of Gibsons for a nominal fee.

The History of HARMONY HALL

In the beginning…… 

The origin of the present-day Gibsons Seniors Society (GSS) can be traced back to about 1958 / 59. At that time the organization was known as the Old  Age Pensioners Association #38. In these early days, meetings were held in  private residences and wherever space could be secured. It wasn’t until the mid  1970’s that the GSS built its own facility, known today as Harmony Hall. The Hall is located on Harmony Lane in Lower Gibsons and continues to be a focal  point supporting older adults and seniors in the local community. The GSS has a current membership of several hundred individuals. 

In 2004, Irene Bushfield, one of the Society’s oldest living members, compiled a  brief history of the GSS and the building of Harmony Hall based on her experiences in the community, after arriving here in 1973. In 2021, Irene turned  100 and a birthday celebration was held for her at the Calvary Baptist Church  located on Park Rd. in Upper Gibsons. 

Submitted by Irene Bushfield. July 18th, 2004 

When my husband and I came to Gibsons in 1973 we quickly joined the Old Age Pensioners Club and became quite active in it. There was no Harmony Hall at that time. The Village government allowed us to use the Marine Room twice a month. The first Monday afternoon we had our  general meeting, and the third Monday afternoon we had bingo. Howeverwhen the village needed the hall for some other purpose – such as for elections – we would get bumped out. 

The United Church allowed us to their church hall one afternoon a week (at  no charge) for our carpet bowling. After all of these occasions we socialized  over refreshments. On Tuesday afternoons we had 5-pin bowling. It was quite casual – we just split up into fours and played a game, we did the high 5 whenever someone got a strike. But that fizzled out when they decided to play the game by the book. It became too competitive and was no longer  friendly

The Legion Ladies would put on a dance for us every year on Valentine’s  Day. They also gave us Dinner and entertainment at Christmas not just for  club members but for all seniors. 

My husband died in 1974 and later that year I became treasurer of the Gibsons OAPA Club. Our President at that time was a man named Maclaren – I never knew his first name – we just called him Mack. He was an agent for another agency that did tours to Hawaii, so every year Mack would  take a group of us to Hawaii. I guess that was the full extent of all our  activities at that time. There were not many facilities available to us – no Kinsman Hall, or Frank West, or Chaster House. All the churches except the United Church, were all old and small – they have since been built up. So, we were somewhat limited, and the feeling grew that we should have our own hall. Mack went to the Village Council and was able to get them to let us use this lot here for a dollar a year, payable every five years on condition that the neighbors agreed. Fortunately, they did! 

Only trouble was we had no money, so it was decided that along with their  dues, all members should pay $20 into the Building fund. Our membership  dropped considerably. Well, it was like asking for $120 in today’s money.  However, it was the next president, Jim Holt, who really got things going  when he saw that we could have the making of a building for $19,000.00, and was able to get the Provincial (or was it Federal?) government to  agree to pay for it. The only trouble was we would not get the money in  advance – not until the building was under way and the company that had the building didn’t want to give us credit. Finally, they decided to release the materials if Members of the executive would sign a note to say they  would be good for the money if the project fell through. All but one of us on the executive signed the note. The one that didn’t, moved away from the  coast shortly after that. 

We would have liked to have a bricks and mortar building, but the reason  for taking on this building was that it was something the men felt they could handle themselves. They were all over eighty years old, and they figured  they would save money by not having to hire anyone

So the building got under way. I believe it was the Lions Club members  that leveled the property and dug the hole for us. Then the eighty-year olds got cracking and put up the sides, the roof, and then the floor. We  have to really hand it to those men. They used their own tools and equipment which they literally wore out. One man named Vic Eckstein, wore out his truck transporting all the stuff. The only thing the club paid for  in that line, was to replace a sander that belonged to Jim Holt because  they still needed one to finish the job. There was one hold-up when the building inspector decided the hall would have to have four pillars to hold it up – something we hadn’t bargained for. Anyway, we all gave a sigh of relief when the government came through with the $19,000 and we were  off the hook for the note. However, we were running into debt to our local  friends because we had to have lumber, doors, flooring, lighting,  electricity, pillars, smoke inhalators, lino, locks, insulation for the ceiling,  tables, chairs, bathroom cabinets, toilets, and kitchen cabinets. All we  really got for the $19,000 was a metal roof and these side panels. 

Around this time, we held a competition for naming the hall. It was Sally Garlick who came up with the name’ Harmony’. She is still with us, she  lives on Headlands Drive

So, Jim Holt approached ‘New Horizons’ for help. He had a long list ready  when they came to meet with us. They agreed to buy everything on the list  except a microwave, and they would not pay anything towards the  building. We got money for a heating system which was the worst thing because the heat was blown down from the ceiling and made a terrible  noise. We quite often had to stop the meeting ’til it quit. New Horizons paid for all the kitchen appliances and wares. I remember taking two other  ladies in my little Pinto to Vancouver to buy kitchen wares and crockery,  cutlery etc. And on the return trip we could not get out of the car on the ferry to go up on deck because we were packed in with boxes all around us, which took up every inch of the space we had

Once the hall was up and people saw that we had a viable thing going, we  started getting donations. People would stop me on the street – in the post office,.at the store, wherever, and shove money at me. I had to keep a special purse in my handbag for it. But it was never enough

I kept borrowing from Peter to pay Paul and then we had to raise the  money to pay back Peter. As soon as the roof was on and the floor  finished, we had a big yard sale. All I can remember about that was the  umbrellas – we had a whole table full of umbrellas. When we started having  activities in the hall, everyone who crossed the threshold had to pay 50 cents. Some members objected, but they did get refreshments for that. We held our  first bazaar that year too. The Lions Club started having their meeting here,  and each month we would cook a dinner for them. I recall that the very first  time I had to use the stove it didn’t work. I didn’t know it wasn’t working and  that the potatoes weren’t roasting. Really embarrassing, but they did not hold it against us. We also leased the hall to other renters, but we had to stop renting to wedding parties because they were so noisy with their bands blaring  and banging car doors and shouting across the parking lot at one and two o’  clock in the morning. The neighbors didn’t like that. 

We also started having bingo on Thursday nights. We had put a lot of hope  into the bingo paying off the bills but instead of making money, we were losing  it because we were in competition with the Legion in Roberts Creek. We tried  to make it pay by making crafts and selling them at the bingo. I don’t know what happened to the cane trays we had in the kitchen but the crafts group  made those so we would not have to buy any. However, when Roberts Creek  quit at the end of the year our bingo started to payoff. Helen Raby made the  tea trolley and another member donated the pool table. So, we were off and  running – so happy to have a hall. 

I recall that we were a long time paying off those last bills. Jim Holt had asked  New Horizons for more money for more tables, more chairs, several games,  office equipment etc., and they were asking for the unused balance because  we were supposed to have used it up within a certain time. By this time Helen  Raby was our president and she was horrified to learn about the unpaid bills. [She] would have given the hall to the village and let them worry about it. But  our secretary wrote a letter to New Horizons explaining that men in their  eighties and ladies who had helped them with the painting and varnishing and  cleaning up – had worked hard on the project for so long that now they had  slowed down and needed more time to get things finished. After all, they did not  have all the labor- saving devices that would have finished the job sooner. We did not have a large membership either. At the start of the project we only had  35 members and we were all involved in everything, so we were all exhausted. We had all been so busy working, we had almost forgotten how to play. It is  sad to think that most of those people have gone now. 

So that is the early history of Harmony Hall as I remember it.  

Submitted by Irene Bushfield. July 18th, 2004

Administration

A volunteer board of directors oversees the operations of the Gibsons Seniors Society and Harmony Hall. Board members meet on a monthly basis and conduct an annual general meeting in April.
PresidentSusan French
Vice PresidentGreg Grant
SecretaryFran Miller
TreasurerBetsy Van Halderen
Directors at LargeAnne MacLachlan
Harvie McCracken
Kevin Hamilton
Linda Rodney
Manfred Scolemann
Maria Jones

Join our activity centre!​

We offer a wide range of activities at the Harmony Hall in Lower Gibsons. All seniors are welcome. Drop in any time and try your first activity for free!

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