Monterey Centre turns 40

What started as a place for seniors to play bridge has been transformed into an 18,000-square-foot hub of activity

Monterey Recreation Centre volunteers Joyce Bevan

Helen Larman was never one to join groups or societies. But after her husband died 40 years ago, she had the impetus to join the Monterey Centre.

“I wanted to do some volunteering and I thought it is right here in Oak Bay, close to home. I was thrilled (that it was available),” she says.

Larman was 51 when she got involved – she greeted members at the front desk. She went on to volunteer for 16 years as a cashier in the cafeteria and filled in on occasion as a hostess for events.

Now 91, she’s given up volunteering, but still stops by several times a week for lunch in the recreation centre’s Fern Café. She’s one of the longest-standing members at the centre.

“It provides friendship for me,” Larman says. “I’ve made a lot of friends here and the staff are just super.”

This month Monterey Recreation Centre celebrates its 40th anniversary. A dinner and dance to mark the milestone are planned for Wednesday, Sept. 28.

A traditional roast beef dinner will be served and the Swiftsure Big Band will get everyone out on the dance floor.

The centre was formed from very humble beginnings, says Lesley Cobus, a Monterey staffer since 1993.

“It was a group of like-minded seniors who said ‘We need a place to do our own thing,’” she says.

The group began meeting in 1960 to play bridge in the Guide Hall beside Fireman’s Park. Membership in the Old Age Pensioners’ Club was limited to 65 and fees were $1 a year.

Monterey Centre member Joyce Bevan, who has been researching the centre’s history all summer for a presentation screening at the gala, says OAP club members lobbied Oak Bay council for a designated building.

In 1968, the municipality purchased the estate home known as Kimbolton at 1442 Monterey Ave. for $50,000.

In 1971, the Oak Bay Seniors Activity Centre opened on the property.

It’s gone through several name changes and renovations since then, including a $1.2-million, 7,500 square-foot expansion in 1990, a glassed-in courtyard in 2001 and an elevator in 2010.

The Oak Bay branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library is attached, as well as a Hampshire Road house that the municipality purchased in the 1970s.

Renamed Monterey Recreation Centre in 2009, it still caters to retirees during the day and in the evening offers over 200 classes for anyone over 19.

That the centre continues to survive is “a testament to the power of people who want to make a difference,” Cobus says.

Tickets for the anniversary gala are $20 for members and $23 for guests. They’re available at the centre desk at 1442 Monterey Ave.

Call 250-370-7300 or visit www.recreation.oakbaybc.org for more information.

vmoreau@oakbaynews.com

Just Posted

Beat the rush: Give the gift of time to the community this holiday season

Volunteer Victoria offers tips for meaningful experiences

Sensitive Santa brings patient holiday cheer to Tillicum Centre

Those who need more time with Santa can book a session ahead starting Nov. 19

The Grinch decks the halls for Sidney’s holiday season

A flurry of holiday events to be had in Sidney this year

B.C. mom, kids on bike turned away from Tim Hortons drive-thru

Car-free for years, Charity Millar ‘felt gross’ being denied service

VicPD officer answers the call from Canada Revenue Agency phone scammer

Officer politely asks questions, frustrating scammer

POLL: Do you plan on making any purchases on Black Friday?

We’ve all seen the images. Shoppers rioting outside of a store in… Continue reading

B.C. to advocate for frustrated, confused, unhappy cellphone users, says premier

Maple Ridge New Democrat Bob D’Eith to advocate for more affordable and transparent cellphone options

B.C. man who killed Belgian tourist near Boston Bar gets life in prison, no parole until 2042

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

‘Very disrespectful’: B.C. first responder irked by motorists recording collisions on cellphones

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue deputy chief challenges motorists to break the habit

Daily cannabis linked to reduction in opioid use: B.C. researchers

Researchers looked at a group of 1,152 people in Vancouver who reported substance use and chronic pain

Port Alberni rallies for mill workers

Fundraisers helping ease the sting of five months without work

Island student lobbies school board for dress code consistency

Jaylene Kuo contacted school trustees after seeing dress guidelines at brother’s school

Most Read