The Selkirk and District Seniors Club organized in the late 1970’s. They met once a week on a Tuesday in the Notre Dame Roman Catholic Church basement. The stairs at the Notre Dame hall became hard for some seniors to manage so they moved to Christ Church Parish Hall. The membership grew and soon they outgrew Christ Church Parish Hall and moved to the Memorial Hall. In late 1979, the Rotarians, who Gordon Howard was a member of, donated a building at the corner of Vaughan Avenue and Jemima Bay andcanvassed the remainder of the Community for donations to support the project. A committee of Rotarians and seniors was formed to oversee the development of the project.
In 1980 the dream became a reality. Through the work of the committee and many other people, the Gordon Howard Senior Centre was born. The name originated from the late Gordon Howard who was very instrumental in the project and who, unfortunately, passed away before seeing his great efforts come into being.
Around this time, the Rotarians also donated a bus, the “Blue Bird”, to the Centre. Many trips to Winnipeg and other destinations around Manitoba such as Dauphin, Portage la Prairie, Morden, Morris, Trehern, Hecla Island and Gimli were taken on the Blue Bird. As well, groups went to Branson, Thief River Falls, Disneyland, Edmonton, Las Vegas and the Maritimes with larger tour buses.
In the beginning the centre had one staff person, a centre Director responsible for the day to day operations. The centre soon became a focal point within the community whereby the needs of older persons were met. The centre provided programs, services and information on a wide variety of areas such as education, recreation, leadership, health and supportive services.
In 1983, the centre was again in need of more space and an addition was added to the facility. In 1985 a coordinator was hired to handle the outreach programs designed to assist seniors to maintain their independent living. These programs included handy helper, congregate meals and friendly visitor. In 1988 a centre Assistant was hired to assist the Director with programs and centre functions. In 1990, the Selkirk Emergency Response System (Lifeline) was established. Past President Joe Watson was instrumental in getting the Lifeline up and running and oversaw the program in the beginning.
In 1991, the most significant milestone in the history of the Gordon Howard Senior Centre occurred when a building was purchased to be renovated for our new centre . Programs and activities had increased to the point where the current needs could not be met. Some programs were held off site and others were cancelled due to insufficient space.
Much work and effort went into our new facilities project. A very successful Loan Certificate program provided much needed funds. The Community, along with our membership was approached to contribute to a loan certificate program. The centre also applied for and received funds from the Sill Foundation, Community Services Council and the New Horizons Program. Other donors included the Lions Club of Selkirk, The Rotary Club, Toronto Dominion Bank, the Royal Bank and the Odd Fellows. Along with the funds, the centre had tucked away for this specific purpose, the centre had enough money to renovate the building to fit our purposes. With the hard work and dedication of many of the members along with volunteers from the community, the building was renovated and our beautiful centre opened in 1992 at the present location.
Through the years the Gordon Howard Senior Centre has been an active participant in the Community. The centre played a large role in the 99 years of Class School Reunion celebrations. A Crib tournament, Pool tournament, Pancake Breakfast and Beer Garden were held at the centre during the reunion.
In 2001, Selkirk hosted the Manitoba Society of Seniors games. Again, the Gordon Howard Centre was involved from the beginning with putting together the bid to hold the games here. Member George Plews and then President Peggy Holt co-chaired the games committee. Whist, cribbage, bridge and pool all took place at the Gordon Howard Centre. This was a very successful Seniors games and The Gordon Howard Centre and the City of Selkirk are to be congratulated on a job well done.
In 2003 and 2004 Selkirk took part in the Canada World Youth program where young people from across Canada partnered with young people from Thailand and India for a 6 month exchange program. Both times the Gordon Howard Centre was fortunate to have two participants at our centre for three months. They took part in regular activities, helped the staff with the day to day running of the centre and put on special programs hi-lighting their province and country. It was a wonderful learning experience for everyone.
As we begin our 28th year, the Gordon Howard Senior Centre is a bustling place. Regular fitness classes and sit and get fit classes run twice a week, floor curling, square dancing and line dancing run once a week. Cribbage, whist, wood carving and quilting are regular activities. Beginners are always welcomed. Painting classes are always filled with a waiting list. Weight Watchers, Tai Chi and ballroom dancing run out of the centre in the evenings. Special events such as our fashion show baron of beef dinners, perogy bees, quarterly birthday parties, and monthly noon lunches round out our programs. Support Services which runs out of our centre has also grown through the years. Services are provided to the City of Selkirk, The RM of St. Andrews and the RM of St. Clements. The Lifeline, Meals on Wheels, Handi Helper and Congregate Meal programs continue to grow. The driver escort program and Handi Helper programs have also grown tremendously over the years. Support Services provides a valuable benefit to the Seniors living in the community. Without these services, many people would not be able to remain in their own homes.
It is impossible to name all the people who were instrumental in the beginning. From all of us who benefit from your foresight, a big thank you for your vision, involvement and hard work that has enabled the Gordon Howard Centre to become a vibrant, active wellness centre for Seniors today.
Past and Current Presidents
George Gilhuly 1980 - 1981
Jim Gaynor 1981 - 1982
Lewis Wasel 1982 - 1983
Vernon Railton 1983 - 1984
Charlie Barnard 1984 - 1985
Margaret Anderson 1985 - 1986
Lena Van Blaricom 1986 - 1987
Crawford McMillan 1987 - 1988
Bob Thompson 1988 - 1989
Iris Hall 1989 - 1991
Garnet Pearson 1991 - 1992
Madeline Mueller 1992 - 1994
Joe Watson 1994 - 1995
Louis-Paul Poirier 1995 - 1997
Arnold Minish 1997 - 1999
Peggy Holt 1999 - 2002
Ella Chenkie 2002 - 2005
Jack Lamb 2005 - 2009
Ken Pawluk 2009 - 2012
Terry Tillett 2012 - 2014
Wayne Kotowich 2014 - 2015
Gerry Hamm 2015 - 2018