Top News

Department moves community hall to new spot

Sixty years ago, the Lower Barneys River hall was a bustling place, filled with dancing couples every Wednesday night.

The Merigomish Fire Department enlisted the help of many groups last week to move the old Lower Barneys River hall behind the Merigomish and District Fire Hall.

Now the building that houses many memories for residents is sitting at its new location – about a kilometre away.

With the help of Sheldon Rushton Construction, Bell Aliant, Nova Scotia Power, MacLeod Safety and Bernie Ross Contracting, the Merigomish Fire Department moved the building by the Merigomish and District Fire Hall, beside the community outdoor rink.

The building has been used by the department as a smoke house for training purposes for the past few years, and eventually was purchased by the department.

“…The Merigomish Fire Department was looking for an old building to train firefighters in, so (they) would be trained if (they) had (a) real emergency,” said Robert Lange, who has been a member of the department for about 40 years. “The Pictou County Firefighter Association had a machine that would make smoke which was used to simulate a house on fire (no actual fire) so we were given the use of it for training.”

After the building was purchased, the fire department discovered the foundation was “starting to fail” and it was in need of other repairs. They got cost estimates to either raise the building and put in a new foundation, raise and move sideways onto another foundation or to raise and move onto the same property as the Merigomish fire hall.

It will continue to be used for training, and as a place for chilly skaters to warm up.

It has seen many uses over the years.

Built around 1945 by volunteers all along the Shore Road, it was regularly used as a dance hall.

“The admission to the dance was $2 and not like today where halls have liquor that can be purchased. In those days, a lot of the ones coming to the dance brought a little refreshment with them,” Lange said in an email about its history after getting in touch with a community member who is familiar with its beginnings.

Walter Murray often looked after admission at the dances – a task appointed to him as a community member.

“I used to take my turn. Everybody took a turn,” he said.

The dances were always packed, he said, with people coming from “far and wide” to attend.

The Royal Swingsters were the most common band, consisting of Waldo Munro on piano, Roy Haddad on guitar, Rooster MacDonald on drums, and often Norbert Mason on fiddle. George MacDonald did the calling, Murray said, telling people when to swing their partners and the like.

The dances went strong for 25 to 30 years, eventually dwindling. The building sat vacant for many years, and was briefly used as a business, before the fire department started using it.

The move to its new home took about two hours.

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda 

Recent Stories