A Lakelse Ave. building which was a focal point for dances and entertainment in the 1920s and 1930s has been placed on the city’s community heritage registry.
Now the home of Urban Colour on the first floor and a residence on the second floor, the building at 4552 Lakelse Ave. was constructed in 1921 by the Great War Veterans’ Association (GWVA) which, as the name indicates, was an organization made up of veterans of the First World War.
The Great War Veterans’ Association building on Lakelse Ave. in winter of 1939. Part of the Norma Morrison Collection.
“It seems to have served as a community centre. The annual fall fair was held in the building, the first Rotary Christmas dinner, New Year’s Eve dances, basketball games, masquerade balls, meetings, memorial services, a small lending library, and commemorative ceremonies, including Armistice Day,” noted Terrace and District Museum Society curator Kelsey Wiebe of research conducted by reading the newspaper of the period, the Omineca Herald.
“Early women’s advocacy was centred around the GWVA: a GWVA Ladies’ Auxiliary operated out of the building, assisting with the creation of a sense of community.”
GWVA members, owing to the passage of time and the depression of the 1930s stopped paying the dues and, eventually, building mortgage holder O.T. Sundal took over the building, allowing community events to continue.
In 1939, the load from an enormous snowfall collapsed the building’s second storey and that floor was removed, converting it into a one-storey structure.
It took on a military flavour again during the Second World War when it was converted into apartments for soldiers, highway workers and families, adds Wiebe. In later years it also served as the location for Wilkinson Business Machines.
The building is the tenth structure or site to be placed on the heritage registry.
“While our built heritage is limited in Terrace, as a result of its small size prior to the Second World War, and the area’s emphasis on using wood for buildings (a fire-susceptible material), there are still several interesting heritage buildings in the community. Their uniqueness should mean that they should be celebrated and upheld,” said Wiebe.
The next heritage step for the building is to place it on provincial and federal historical registries.
A federal historic registry contains three local structures – the former provincial police station on the corner of Lakelse and Kalum, the Kwinitsa railway foreman’s residence on the eastern end of the millennium trail and city founder George Little’s house which is located at the foot of Kalum Ave. downtown.