In October 1987, Mary Johnston of St. Jacques, Nfld placed an ad in the personal column of the Times Colonist, "DOES ANYONE KNOW OF A CLUB FOR NEWFOUNDLANDERS IN VICTORIA?" giving her phone number.
I read Mary's ad and called her, so did 34 other Newfies. Mary had the foresight to record all names and phone numbers of her callers. Mary and I talked on several occasions about forming a club, but decided to wait until the new year. Jim Barker of Grand Falls, Genny St. George of Hearts Desire and Claire Walker of Bay Roberts were very interested in forming a club. Jim visited Mary and got a copy of the names, Genny St. George made the phone calls, and in February 1988, 29 of the 34 Newfies gathered at my apartment for a meeting.
It was so exciting, even in that small group, to find relatives and people who went to the same school! Ralph King won't forget that meeting; he thought Dorothy and Clem Poff were "pulling his leg" when they told him about it. You're not sorry you came, are you Ralph?
We decided to form a Club, but first lets host some functions to gauge interest from others. A dance and pot luck dinner was planned for April at Work Point, Sergeant's Mess. We decided to bring our own music because the crowd would be small. WRONG! When the line up started Jim Barker lost no time getting on the phone to find a DJ. He did, they came, and we passed the hat later for payment. EVERYONE HAD A BALL! If my memory is correct, we had 118 people. Of course we recorded all names and phone numbers. There was no doubt of the interest in forming a Club after that.
Several more functions were held that year with people taking turns at organizing events. In the fall of 1988, it was decided to ask Len Walsh to become the first official President, Jim Barker Vice President, Leo Hynes Treasurer, and I, Shirley Hulan was Secretary. Our first official membership meeting was held at Four Mile House, on June 25, 1989, with 33 members enjoying breakfast and good company.
Mary Johnston has been given the well-deserved title of Club Founder. In December of 1990 a plaque was presented to Mary. The Founders Award has been given yearly since then to a member having contributed outstandingly to the Club.
In October of 1989, Gary Hogan put forth an idea to start a scholarship fund to help further the studies of a child or grandchild of a member. Brenda Laurie agreed to head up the Scholarship Committee and $5000.00 was raised and invested. We now award annually a Scholarship of $500.00.
In 1990, Leo Hynes and I started working on a Club Constitution. With a lot of help in re-writing and typing by Frances March and lawyer Michael Egan, we finished it in June 1991, and presented it to the members for approval.
The success of this Club can be attributed to its members. The feeling of togetherness we share here keeps us in touch with our roots. It is important that we keep that special love of people and our home land to pass along to our children and grandchildren who in a lot of cases were not fortunate enough to have been born on "The Rock".
Membership meetings are held every second month in the form of a breakfast or dinner. You do not have to be a Newfoundlander to join our group.
As they say "back home" LONG MAY YOUR BIG JIB DRAW"!
Written by: Shirley Hulan, formerly of St. David's