Duhamel Recreation Commission

The Duhamel Recreation Commission played a large role in the area’s activities and the community’s identification in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Organized in 1964, the commission was composed of five executive members, elected annually, who met once per month and held annual general meetings. Its constitution was presented and accepted at a public meeting on June 22, 1964 in the St. Andrews by the Lake Church Hall. The commission’s aims and objects were to plan, develop, activate and promote community recreation and to assist already established groups and programs. Kokanee Lodge to Kokanee Creek, the AI Collinson School catchment area, was the area served by the Commission.

The Commission applied for and received grant money from the Community Programs Branch. It is reported in the April 19, 1966 minutes that their monthly grant had been increased from $20.00/month to 35.00/month. They joined the BC Recreation Association in 1967. In 1973 the Regional Recreation Commission #5 was formed through the Regional District of Central Kootenay. Margaret Heddle, who had been the Secretary of the Duhamel Recreation Commission since its inception, was appointed to serve on it. In April of 1973 the DRC applied for grant money from RRC#5 ($1000.00) to assist in running its programs-particularly its new Tennis Club Program as there was now a tennis court in the area at the AI Collinson School grounds.

The sixties and seventies were a busy time for the commission. Activities included square dancing, ping pong, cards, softball, carpet bowling, rythmics, gymnastics, ladies keep fit, ceramics, swimming lessons, soccer, summer playground sessions, judo, badminton, arts and crafts classes, and tennis lessons. They sponsored a Drama Club, a Garden Club and a Riding Club. They joined forces with other organizations in the area to put on Halloween Parties and Christmas Concerts. They held Hi Neighbor Nights to welcome new comers to the area, Sale-a-ramas to raise funds and wind up nights to showcase their seasonal activities. They held sports days in the summer which turned into the annual Duhamel Family Day event.

From 1964-1967 indoor programs were held in the St. Andrew’s Church Hall or in a classroom at AI Collinson School. These areas were small and furniture and desks had to be moved before and after the activities. The addition of the activity room (gym) to the school in 1967 was of great benefit to the community’s recreational programs.

There were long standing groups functioning in the area before the formation of the Duhamel Recreation Commission who agreed to work in conjunction with the Commission. Cubs, Scouts, Brownies, Girl Guides and the school’s Parents Club were a few of them. The success of the activities and programs relied heavily on many hours of volunteer time and energy put in by area residents.

As happened to many community efforts that relied on volunteer hours, it became harder to find people willing to spend time on the Duhamel Recreation Commission and to run its activities. The number of programs offered thinned, the calendar of events got less and less, Duhamel Family Fun Days stopped happening and eventually the Commission was no more. I am not sure when it folded but it seems that slowly the Regional Recreation Commission #5 took over running some of the programs and families went into Nelson to participate in recreational activities that were once offered right in the community.



In the first summer after their formation (1964), the commission organized a community sports day and raffle for August. There were races and ball games. Hot dogs and drinks were sold.

The next summer a bicycle parade was added with prizes donated by Willow Point Store, Six Mile Service Station and Trembley’s Service Station. Cash prizes of 5, 10 and 15 cents were given for the races.

The 1966 sports day was canceled due to construction at the school grounds but the raffle was held at the Halloween party prizes being stacking stools and an electric kettle.

In 1969 many groups got together to put on ‘Duhamel Family Fun Day’. Events included a playground program display and parade, horseshoe tournament, bake sale, rummage sale, bingo games, fish pond, races, ladies ball game, spaghetti supper, teen dance and adult old time sock hop. This became an annual event at the AI Collinson School grounds that eventually included a dance on the tennis court and Bavarian Garden in 1975.


At the March 8, 1965 meeting of the executive the secretary was instructed to write a letter to the District Engineer regarding the opening of an access on the public right of way to the beach on Lower Six Mile Road (Six Mile Point). At the April meeting it was reported that the District Engineer had written back to say his department was not interested in clearing the beach access at this time but that he would consider issuing the Commission a permit to do the clearing themselves. The parks and recreation department was contacted to ask if they would be able to clear the right of way to the beach. Again the answer was no. However Milt Godard, area director of the parks branch, offered his personal services. A work party was organized and 17 people showed up on May 17 to slash out a path to the beach.

With the path cleared, the commission decided it would try conducting swimming lessons at the beach as opposed to subsidizing the children’s fees to take lessons in Nelson. Sixty children participated in swimming lessons at the point that first year (1965). Instructors were Peter Demars and Evette Hondayers under the supervision of Dick McKeen.

In 1966 forty-eight children took lessons. In 1967 and 1968 Mrs. June Price from Harrop was hired as instructor at $3.50/hr. In 1969 Mr. Rick Tourand instructed 71 students of various ages and levels. In 1971 sixty children took lessons. Mr. and Mrs. Greg Ottewell allowed the use of their wharf so the children could practise diving, treading water, and other techniques that required the water to be over the swimmers head.

In 1977 another lower six mile area family, Judy and Mike Horswill, offered the use of there outdoor pool for the use of the area’s swimming lessons. These lessons were run through the Canadian Red Cross Program and organized and taught by Marna Edey, another six mile resident. Each summer, for the next 10 years approximately 55 students took swimming lessons at the Horswill’s pool. Unfortunately, by 1988, partly due to health authority regulations, the lessons could no longer be offered at the private pool and so once again children had to go into town for swimming instruction. The Hoswill’s and Marna were presented with the Red Cross Community Service Award for their part in helping North Shore area children learn to swim.


In 1968 a contest was held to create an emblem and slogan for the Duhamel Recreation Commission. It was felt appropriate as some of the groups were traveling to events outside of the area. The contest winner was Chris Fairbank. Crests, t-shirts and shorts were sold with the emblem printed on them.



In November of 1965 Mrs. Doris Smith volunteered her services to prepare a bulletin for the commission. It was agreed that this was a worthwhile endeavor. In December 1965 the Commission published and distributed its first ‘Calendar of Events’, a monthly newsletter “to provide a means of informing the residents of the district of any happenings in the area.”

In the December 1966 edition it is reported that 250 copies are mailed each month. It was produced on the schools mimeograph machine and was distributed through Canada Post to the area’s residents. Doris Smith, Margaret Heddle, Dorothy Boldt, and Margaret Barwis were some of the ‘staff’ that worked on the production, with many others helping out at various times. Other names mentioned: Dick Powell, Kay Powell-typing, Mary Learmonth, Peter Boldt, Joan Segur, Greg Ottewell-cover design.

Although the number of editions produced got less per year in the 1970’s, the calendar of events continued to be produced and distributed until about 1975.




Parades were organized as part of the sports days, Duhamel Fun Days and wind up programs. Children often decorated their bikes, which usually involved some sort of crepe paper, to go in a parade. The summer playground program participants made costumes of various themes to enter as part of their wind up activities. Adults and families would also dress up and decorate such things as wheel barrows for the local parades at the AI Collinson School grounds.

In 1966 Mr. Greg Ottewell volunteered to decorate a float for the Duhamel Recreation Commission to put into Nelson’s Mid-Summer Bonspiel Parade in Nelson. The executive agreed to sponsor the float to a maximum of $5.00. An entry was also put in the 1968 parade, this time organized by Peter and Barbara Boldt.



West Arm Echoes

The historical booklet ‘West Arm Echoes’ was published in 1967 by the Duhamel Recreation Commission as its BC Centennial Project. It was written and compiled by Eric Denny with illustrations by Mary Learmonth. Four hundred copies were printed.


by Patsy Ormond (2014)

Sources: Duhamel Recreation Commission Minutes and Calendar of Events: 1964-1975; Nelson Daily News Paper Clippings: 1964-1988.








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