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Pictou New Horizons 50+ numbers grow with people finding plenty to occupy interests

From the left, Gordon Thompson, Jim MacCarthy, Ralph Bennett and Barbara Russell enjoy a game of cribbage at the New Horizons 50+ club in Pictou.
From the left, Gordon Thompson, Jim MacCarthy, Ralph Bennett and Barbara Russell enjoy a game of cribbage at the New Horizons 50+ club in Pictou. - Sueann Musick

A local seniors club is shattering an old stereotype that people over the age of 50 like to rest.

At the New Horizons 50+ Club, a person would be hard pressed to find someone in the group sitting quietly in a corner watching time pass by.

“It is a happening place,” said New Horizons program officer Terry Donovan. “There is a perception of seniors club but that is not what happens here. You read anything about seniors today and they are basically saying seniors should be able to live in their communities, be able to socialize and thrive in their communities. We are living longer and this is a place where this happens.

The club’s growing list of weekly activities is proof of that. It hosts cribbage, scrabble, women’s and men’s pool, line dancing, choral group, euchre, women’s circle, contract bridge, auction 45s and pass the ace.

Donovan said there are even beginner groups that teach people how to play these activities in case someone might be a timid about jumping in with others who have been participating longer.

"Basically we have full range of activities going on,” he said.

New Horizons has doubled its membership in the past few years from 150 to 300 members. The wide range of activities at the club help draw in members, either local residents, or visitors throughout the summer months.

It has members from across the county as well as from central Canada and the United States.

“We opened up our membership to associate members which is highly unusual,” Donovan said. “We have said if we want our club to continue to grow we have to get younger club members in here.”

At age 45, people can join as associate members, which allows them to enjoy all of the activities of any other membership but they can’t hold office or run a program.

“We had people inquiring that would like to come to line dancing, but they were not old enough according the bylaw, said club president Len Thomas. “It’s not only good music, but good exercise.”

The group also takes some of their talent on the road. The choral group was planning its first outside gig in the community, said instructor Mona MacDonald, who welcomed new members to come to their Thursday practices.

“It’s all singing,” she said. “We do golden oldies, classics, folk and gospel. We have four men so we still need some more men. If you love singing you can come. My only motto is that you start together and end together.”

The club also opens its doors to everyone, including non-members, the second and fourth Sundays of each month for jam sessions led by Jim MacCarthy, who is also chair of the New Horizons 50+ club’s board of directors.

He said the past few jam sessions have seen 12 musicians come together from 2 to 4 p.m. and take turns playing a song. Attendance has seen as a many as 40 people filling the hall.

Members have also hit the road with bus trips to special events in both Nova Scotia and Price Edward Island.

Membership to the club is $10 for the year and there are low fees to participate in activities. For example, line dancing is a dollar a session while pass the ace is $5 but includes 50/50. The building is also available for rentals.

Money raised goes toward the buildings operation and maintenance. The club has also received government grants to help with major projects such as new siding, insulation and roof as well as upgrading the building so it is accessible and barrier-free both inside and out.

The renovations coupled with the growing membership makes for a bright future for the club and its members.

“The senior population in the province is growing rapidly and people want things to do and because of the dedication of these people here running activities we are growing,” said Donovan.



New Horizons Club 50 plus weekly schedule:

Monday: 1:30 p.m. Cribbage/scrabble

Monday: 7 p.m. darts

Tuesday: 1 p.m. Women’s pool

Wednesday: 9:30 a.m. Line dancing for beginners/intermediate

Wednesday: 130 p.m. Rummikub and open activities

Thursday: 11 a.m. Choral group

Thursday: 1 p.m. Euchre and open activities

Thursday: 6:50 p.m. Cribbage

Friday: 9:30 a.m. Line dancing – beginners and novice

Friday: 1 p.m. Women’s Circle

Friday 1 p.m. Men’s pool

Friday 1 p.m. Contract bridge

Saturday: 6:50 p.m. Auction 45s

Sunday: 7 p.m. Pass the Ace

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