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History of the Beachcombers

Page history last edited by Betty King 1 year ago


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Beachcombers Club History


Our club began when Conrad (Connie)Schlifke, a retired Buffalo Firefighter, who made his permanent home in Crystal Beach, approached Margaret Clark, then a councillor, as to how to go about starting such a group.

She got to work and obtained the necessary papers. Ten signatures were needed to do so. Connie got busy and got the signatures which were forwarded to Toronto. The first constitution was drafted in September 1974, with a small but active membership. Our first meeting was held in Connie's family room. This room was our home in the early days.

Temporary executive was:

 President - Conrad Schlifke

 Vice President - the late Charles Weiss

 Treasurer - the late Marguerite (Greta) Jansen

 Secretary - the late Mrs. Charles Weiss

 Margaret Clark  was an advisor as she wasn't old enough to  become a member.


In 1973 – President – Marguerite Janzen

Vice President – Charles Weis

Secretary – Mildred Kralick

Treasurer – Conrad Schlifke

This executive served for several years. Membership grew and meetings were held at the former Crystal Beach Scout Hall (now a church).

The club's name was chosen from many submitted. The Beachcombers was Margaret Clark's entry.


In 1974 – As membership continued to grow, we got permission to use the upstairs of the West End Arena.  Membership of 100.

An application was made for what was known as a "New Horizon's Grant"  for tables and chairs. These were used for many years. A kitchen was furnished and activities increased as did membership. An elevator was also installed for those who were physically unable to make the stairs.


In 1975-9 - Weekly meetings, with Bingo or cards following the meeting was a common occurrence, and pot luck suppers were as popular then as now.

We went on many interesting trips and designed a weekly program offering Crafts, Darts, Cards, Bazaars, etc. Many residents outside of Crystal Beach joined this very active group and soon membership was at an all time high.Guest speakers were added to the list on topics to help seniors.


In 1980-2 – Tours to 1,000 Islands, Proctor Gamble, a Hamilton Mall, Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, New Jersey and Atlantic City were planned. Quilting, craft classes, ceramics, darts, cards, shuffleboard, monthly dinners, with special speakers were part of the club activities.  A donation of $1,000.00 was made to the Douglas Memorial Hospital in 1981.

A New Horizons Grant was received from the federal government for $12,171.00.  These funds were used to buy much needed kitchen equipment, tables and chairs.


In 1983-4 – Trip to Myrtle Beach and Boston, Nashville, picnic at Queenston Heights, Day at the Races.  Regular craft classes, ceramics, darts, shuffleboard, cards, etc. monthly dinners with special speakers and entertainment.


In 1985 - Letter and sketch from Architect re seniors building.  A building committee was formed by the following members.  Margaret Clark, Mary Lou and Shorty Iwanoczko, Irene Eiler, Marguerite Stewart, Gus Carthew and Lloyd Reinhart.

The town donated a 2 acre parcel of land on Rebstock and Ridgeway Road to build a permanent home, but took it back when it was realized it was the entry point for the horse shows held at the park.

The club continued with quilting, crafts, cards, dinners, etc. along with trips, picnic, races. A trip to the Laurentians was also enjoyed.


In 1986 - The club was involved in the Moon Walk for Seniors for Canada Fitness.  


In 1987 the Beachcomber Association was incorporated, received Tax exempt status, and became a Registered Charity under the Income Tax Act.

Kitchen renovations with new stove and cupboards.  Trips to Kitchener, Toronto, Lunch at the C.N. Tower, boat cruise, Moon Walk, shutter cards, cards, ceramics, etc.


In 1988 - The old Crystal Beach Town Hall was offered to the Beachcombers, but we turned it down due to the amount of money it would take for renovations, and there was no parking. During March the planning committee borrowed $1,000.00 from the Beachcombers' fund to start holding Bingos at Delta Bingo to raise money for a building of our own.  On April 28th we held our first bingo and eventually the loan was repaid.

The club continued with a bazaar, crafts, dinners, quilting, cards, and a trip to Vermont.


1989 – The club again participated  in the 5th annual Moon Walk for Seniors for Canada Fitness.  Trips to Cambridge and Port Dover were also part of the year’s activities. 


March 13, 1990 -  A vote was taken by members on March 13th to purchase the Avondale Store on Ridge Road   in Ridgeway.  The results were 73 yes,  8 no votes,  and 1 undecided. A proposal was made to the Town that the club give up claim to land, and receive a grant of $60,000.00.  This was refused by Council.  In April a vote was taken to buy the old Kacur's grocery store building (our current home) for $170,000.00.  $90,000 was paid and a mortgage for $80,000.00 was taken out. The offer was accepted by the owner.  Renovations were started immediately.  A contract was signed with Violino Construction for $99,015.00.

The club had 225 members.


 In 1991 – Beachcombers was approved as a Senior Centre by the Ministry.  A Grant was approved by the Ministry in the amount of $11,500.00. We received a cheque from New Horizons for $17,485 for renovations. Grand Opening was June 15th, 1991.


In 1992 -  A Grant for $17,000.00 was received. Jack Walton replaced Irene Eiler on the planning board.  New By-Law was passed.  The club held a mortgage burning ceremony, and in October made an agreement to share parking lots with Branch  230 of the Legion.


In 1993 - The club donated $5,000 to other non-profit organizations. Made an addition to the building, and amended the bylaws, changing membership age to 50.


In 1994 - We donated a further $4,200 to other groups and set up a Bingo reserve of $30,000.


In 1995 - We made donations of $19,130.  September of that year we had a break in where the thief stole the computers and tools.

The club continued to donate to other groups and run our programs.


In 1996 - Donations of $2,500.00 were made.  C. Weiss passed away.  He was the second President of the club.    Dues were $10.00 for the year.

Club events included, pot luck dinners, roast beef dinner, spaghetti dinner, Christmas dinner, picnic, barbecue, darts, crafts, woodworking, bingo, ceramics, cards, shuffleboard, line dancing, Christmas bazaar.

The club gave up our Delta Bingo and thus the money raised through it.


In 1997 - Ron Huffman was elected President and was again elected in 1998, 1999 and 2000.

The club received a letter from Neil J. Campbell, solicitor for Mr. and Mrs. Wilkie  asking if the club had an interest in purchasing the Wilkie Parking Lot, 241 Ridge Road, Ridgeway.  The cost would be between $37,500 - $40,000 for the lot.  The Royal Canadian Legion also received a similar letter. The offer was turned down.

The club held a pancake breakfast, pot luck dinners, family day.    Bridge lessons were added to club events. 

In March of 1997, the following policy was reviewed.  “Use of Workshop – anyone using workshop shall do so, only under supervision and or approval of Workshop Co-ordinator.”


In 1998 - The club celebrated its 25th Anniversary – Plaques and letters of congratulations were received  at a special luncheon, along with a special cake.

The club participated in the Ridgeway Summer Festival.  A Strawberry Social was also organized.  There were craft classes, exercise classes, darts, bingo, cards, tole painting, woodworking.  A Spagetti dinner, Picnic, Barbecue, Christmas dinner , as well as monthly dinner meetings were held.  The woodworking shop produced many items for sale at the Christmas Bazaar.  Jack Walton, Doug Everett, Dougal Currie, Earl Winger and John Taylor were some of the woodworkers.

The executive agreed to hire Roadside Lawn & Garden to do the flower beds and trees at a cost of $148.00.

Apparently the club owned an organ and Frank Beam was asked to come and play it and let them know if it needs repairs or cleaning.


In 1999 - We had just over 200 members with the oldest being Gertrude Dietrich who was over 90.  The club continued to participate in the Ridgeway Summer Festival.  A Summer Picnic was also held and of course the Christmas Bazaar.


In 2000 - In addition to our regular programs, the club is now involved with the Ridgeway  BIA, joining them for Ridgefest and Downtown Ridgeway Days in December.

The club got involved in community policing, helping them with their Community Days and Christmas Memories.  The club held a pancake breakfast every spring.


In 2001 – President – Lois Hobbs

Secretary – Loraine Kenny

Treasurer – Jean Sladden

Directors – Donna Taylor, John Taylor, Ron Huffman, Jack Walton and Bob Brown

The club raised $1,400.00 at the Spring Craft Sale


In 2002 - A Dart Tournament was held and a 29th Anniversary Celebration.


In 2003


In 2004 – Grant application for funds to replace old heating and air conditioning.


In 2005 -


In 2006 – Various activities included darts, shuffleboard, cards, line dancing, and tai chi.  The club had a Mother’s Day Breakfast,  a Christmas Party, and Hot Chocolate Night.


In 2007 – 3 Amendments were made to the Constitution.  Activities included Bingo, art class, cards, cribbage, darts, line dancing, camera club, exercises, scrabble.    A Valentine’s Spagetti Supper, St. Patrick’s Day Ham Dinner, Art Show, Bazaar, bird house project with students, Christmas Party, a Fashion Show, etc.  There were 162 members.

An awning for the front of the building was purchased.  A new satellite system was installed. 

The club house was painted by  volunteer members.


In 2008 -


In 2009 – A grant from the Town of Fort Erie was received in the amount of $6,800.  The Province also gave a grant of $10,725.  New toilets were installed at a cost of $198.00 each. A  heart monitor machine was donated to the club. Cost to operate the club was $62,000 per year.

A new security system was installed, new hydro system, new smoke detectors, new Ikea dishes were purchased, and ceiling fans installed. New card tables were purchased.

A request was made for a new workshop manager.

Sunday afternoon socials were held and computer classes, along with the usual club activities. Trips to dinner theater in Niagara Falls, Grant River Cruise, and trip to Hamilton Tattoo.

There were 301 members.


In 2010  - The above members took a 100 Island Trip.

A new color copier was purchased for $3,000.  A new roof was installed at a cost of $52,000.

Membership was 232.


In 2011 -


In 2012 - New vinyl flooring was installed in the main hall, kitchen, back halls, bathrooms and the hall painted.  The club was closed for a month while this work was completed.  A Trillium Grant of $39,000.00 covered the cost.

The club purchased a GIC for $20,000.  A Grant for $14,700 was received to purchase a new computer for the office, new dishwasher and chairs for the hall.  The club received a long term care Grant of $33,600.

A loan of $50,000.00 was obtained to build an addition to house the Wood Carving Class.  New equipment, including a new heating system, vacuum cleaners and air cleaners were installed.  Cost of $70,000.00

A Grant was obtained to purchase new wood working equipment for the wood shop including a wood lathe, a computer generated router.

Dresses for Africa was started up by Helen Haslam. Over a 1,000 dresses were sent to Africa, along with shorts and feminine hygiene items that year.  Helen used the Beachcomber facilities, but Dresses for Africa was not an activity of Beachcombers, although several members were sewers.


In 2013 -  A new back walk-way was installed, correcting the drainage problem.  Approximate quote was $3,000.00 by Steele Concrete.

Pat Sider was given the go-ahead to purchase a new computer and perhaps a wireless printer - not to exceed $500.00.


The Upholstery Class received grant money to buy an industrial sewing machine ($1900.00) and button maker.  This made their jobs much easier and was very much appreciated.

A Digital Carving Machine was purchased with grant money.  The mortgage was paid off.  Matting was purchased for the art class.

The club changed over to Cogeco for telephone and internet services.Constitution was revised and approved.


In 2014 –  New siding was installed to the building.  The concrete block was beginning to flake so preserving the building became paramount. At the same time they installed a window in the back entry [replacing one of the glass block windows] so we could let in some air when that area gets a bit musty smelling.

A new concrete back entrance pad was installed to facilitate proper water drainage.

The air conditioner died and we needed a new compressor. During that repair the gas lines in the room got red-tagged and had to be replaced. Apparently they were never installed properly although what is proper now, and what was proper when the building first came to be is most likely not the same.

The very old hot water tank quit working  and had to be replaced. Since the new heating in the wood carving room had also been deemed unsafe by the fire department, the hot water system we put in became the basic part of the heating for the wood carving room, which is now safe and the room toasty.

The men's washroom was downsized which enabled the building of a huge closet in the back hallway.  This was much needed storage space for the crafters, kitchen supplies, etc.

All the above repairs were paid for through fund-raisers and monies collected through members attending various club activities.

 A Fire Safety Plan was presented to the membership by Roland King.  Fire Safety Booklets were located in the front and back entrances.  A flyer is to be presented to each member and new member.

The club had 278 members.

 An Alaska Cruise was enjoyed by a group of Beachcombers.



In 2015 - The  electricity  components were upgraded to meet present day standards.   Again this cost was covered by monies generated through the club and Grants for $59,367.00 received in 2015.


In 2016 - A new microphone amplifier was purchased for $400.00.

The club executive had to make a difficult decision to cancel woodcarving due to dust created by dremel tools and safety concerns.  This became an issue for insurance coverage and fire safety rules.  The woodcarving room was renovated to become a multi  purpose room.  It is now used as the upholstery room and art class room.


The club continues to receive income from club activities and these funds help to keep the club healthy financially.  A yearly grant  from the Town of Fort Erie for $10,500, and a monthly grant from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (Provincial)  for $3,500   A H.S.T. rebate for  $6,328.99 was received in 2016.


Activities include – tai chi, shuffleboard, shutter cards, euchre, fun darts, crafts, dresses for Africa, quilting and more, country line dance, ballroom line dance, scrabble, art class, upholstery, darts, and cribbage.


Don West provided a delicious soup to go along with our pot lucks.  Don and his crew put on a very delicious “Family Brunch” for Father’s Day.  The Christmas Party, as usual, was catered by Mae's Restaurant serving a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  Members had a wonderful time dancing to the music.


3 day trips were made to dinner/musical events in Hamilton and St. Catharines.


A new bingo machine and dart mats were purchased, along with 2 new kitchen trollies, and a bike rack. 

Door bells were repaired and a new “open” sign put in the front door.  The front awning was power washed.


The club requested a volunteer as a new workshop manager, but no volunteer came forth.  The executive made the decision to close the workshop permanently and sell off all the equipment.  $7,563.18 was received from the sale of the equipment. 


The club had a very successful summer bazaar and Christmas bazaar.

In December, the club also collected food for the various food banks and will continue to do so in 2017 making it an ongoing project.


Directors meetings are held once a month.  As of 2016 we have 15 directors, with Ken Hollinrake as President.


In 2017 -  The executive made the decision to move the office to the craft room.     A new glass door and window were installed in the east wall of the auditorium making it easier for those working in the office to see anyone coming in.


The men's washroom was upgraded with the installation of new urinals.


Work is in progress updating the old office and will be used as a meeting room for club members as well as outside organizations.  New windows were installed, making the room brighter.


Pickle Ball has been added as a new activity.  It began in the auditorium, but has since moved to the Leisure Plex in Fort Erie.


Membership is 283.


2018 -  A Special Events Committee has been formed.  Lunch and a Movie.  $10.00 each.  January - Chicken a la King - Movie - Cocoon.   February - Schnitzel - Movie - Sound of Music

March - Irish Stew - Movie -  June - Corned Beef, Cabbage, etc. Movie - A Grand Seduction


Dresses for Africa - 112 dresses and 56 shorts and t-shirts went to the Phillipines with volunteers from Sleeping Children Around the World. 

                                26 dresses and 10 shorts and t-shirts went to Kenya. 80 dresses and 50 shorts and t-shirts went to Guatemala.


A new photocopier was purchased.  A grant application was made to pay for this and other office equipment.  New comfortable chairs for the main auditorium were also purchased.


A Photography Club was started up in September, but has since disbanded. 


Autumn bazaar was scheduled on November 17th.


Christmas Dinner was held on December 8th.


 Membership is 302.



2019 -


Special events -  March -Hawaiian Party 


                              - May - Karaoke Night with  Ribs and Chicken Dinner.


The Ridgefest Bazaar was a huge success under the leadership of Mary Franks and Betty King, bringing over $4,000.00. Saturday was a soggy day, so the event was held over until Sunday noon, bringing in more revenue. 


Repairs were made to the south wall in the old workshop.  The room has been renovated with installation of a new window, walls repaired and painted, new flooring, etc.  The room is being  used as a recreation room with shuffleboard every Monday and Friday mornings from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 am.


The club received a grant for $40,000 to put in a new parking lot.  This will be repaired in the Spring 2020.


The club has also been approved for a grant of $7,000 to purchase a new gas stove and it has been installed.


The Fall Bazaar was organized by Anne Marie Lodomez-Miller and was a great success, with the club netting over $3,200.00. 


The club held its annual Hot Chocolate and Popcorn Night on December 6th in conjunction with activities in the Town of Ridgeway.  The craft group sold their craft items and left-over silent auction items were auctioned off.  The craft group donated a box of lap quilts to be taken to Crescent Park, a bag of mitts and hats to the Ridgeway Library and various other items to individuals in need.


Dresses for Africa donated over 200 girls dresses, shorts and tops and 29 boys shorts and t-shirts to Intercede International to be sent to El Salvador and Turkey for Syrian refugees. 10 dresses and 10 shorts and t-shirts went to Roatan.  Over 127 dresses and 65 shorts and t-shirts were sent to Guatemala.


The Christmas Dinner was held on December 21st with Mae's Restaurant catering.  Special music was provided.


The club has 313 members, plus 40 life members.


Past Presidents in order of holding office –


1973-1975 -    C. Schlifkei

1975-1978 -    Charlie Weiss

1979-1982 -    Art Somerleigh

1983-1988 -    E.M. Carthew

1988-1990 -    Paul Garan

1990-1991 -    Frank Blackley

1991-1993 -    Margaret Clark

1994-1996 -    Mary Lou Iwenoczko

1996-1997 -    Shirley Bradley

1998-2000 -    Ron Huffman

2001-2003 -    Lois  Hobbs

2004-               Ron Huffman

2005-6 -           Lorraine Kenny

2007-8 -           Bob Brown

2009-2011 -    Bob Brown

2012 -              Pat Sider

2013 –14        Bob Brown

2015 -17 -        Ken Hollinrake

2017 - 19         Pat Sider

2019 - 21 -       Mary Franks



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