Reflections of Ponoka: Ponoka’s historical home away from home

During the exciting early settlement of the Village of Ponoka and the lush surrounding countryside, many years of tenacious hard work

Here are the members of the 1960 Ponoka Community Rest Room Association

During the exciting early settlement of the Village of Ponoka and the lush surrounding countryside, many years of tenacious hard work and determination would lead to the establishment of a bustling and successful community and countless active rural homesteads and districts.

A real treat for those hardy growing families would be a trip into town for supplies, to trade or sell the products of their labour, for appointments, and possibly a little socializing. While the men attended an auction sale, stopped in at the Blacksmiths for repairs, sold some livestock, or even popped into the local tavern, the mothers and their children looked for a comfortable and friendly place to relax after shopping, read, enjoy a cup of tea, a meal, a congenial chat, or some games. To serve these growing needs the first organizational meeting for the purpose of acquiring a building for the first Ponoka Rest Room was held in the Presbyterian Church on June 27, 1920. A fine building near what is now 5014-51st Avenue was made available by owner Mrs. C.D. Algar, and without hesitation kindly community folks like Mrs. Evelyn Graham, Mrs. Aro Crawford, M.L.A. Mr. C.O. Cunnington and others gathered together to form the first Ponoka Community Rest Room Association.

At a time when most of the population lived in rural areas, travel into Ponoka was necessary for groceries, farm repairs, mail, and supplies. Initially the long and tough trip into town was done by teams of horses or oxen pulling a wagon or sleigh into town, and then later when the first cars, trucks, and tractors appeared on the scene with a loud and smoky dominance, the trek usually became a whole lot quicker and often exciting, depending of course on the weather and the roads.

Many local and district clubs, organizations, and individuals responded quickly with donations and assistance in favour of purchasing the Algar building for purpose of hosting a ladies’ restroom. The support of this much needed project was overwhelming, with monies flowing in, and splendid turnouts for teas, dinners, sales, and catering to other functions for proceeds that would help the cause. Especially noteworthy was that one of the first Ponoka rodeos in 1920 very kindly donated $600.00 to the restroom building fund, and the committee made the decision to purchase and open the existing facility the same year. Although finances and spirits had become very low in 1922, the Ponoka Community Rest Room had quickly become a friendly and happy social haven for countless mothers and children year round, so the committee bravely decided to push on towards their lofty goals.

By 1925, The Ponoka Community Rest Room Association had become a large and very dedicated group of women from town and rural areas, who were thrilled to receive their first official charter. A milestone occurred in 1930 when a kindly member sponsored the association in the amount of $1450.00 in order that a mortgage could be secured to finance the construction of a new restroom. Mr. Jas Caine and Mr. R.A. Sorenson had been contracted in 1929 to build the magnificent two-story facility of cost-efficient and fire resistant cast stone, which was officially opened on November 30, 1929 during an informal tea and celebration, and all completed during the Great Depression. The former building was moved to the back of the lot, then later sold to Les Russell and moved to the cemetery. Later features of the always busy new Ponoka Community Rest Room were the addition our very first free public library of donated books, a telephone, as well as a caretaker’s suite, offices, and rental apartments upstairs that helped with the finances.

Over the years the Ponoka Community Rest Room was able operate on a debt-free basis, thanks to the generous support of the town and county, numerous fundraisers, and the supreme dedication of the over 100 ladies who diligently served on the board and strived for decades to keep this vital women’s facility running smoothly for decades. Expenses, of course, increased considerably over those years, with taxes rising from $47.48 in 1920 to over $700.00 in 1969, but the Town of Ponoka would respond with annual rebates, while the only wages were paid to the secretary, treasurer, and janitor. Ongoing improvements and renovations were made to the restroom over the years, including new taps, linoleum, rewiring and new pipes, and four lavatories. Countless items such as pictures, furniture, and other items were also donated by the community.

From 1920-1992 the Ponoka Community Rest Room provided a welcome amenity to farm women, one which no doubt reinforced Ponoka’s growth as an agricultural service centre, as well as contributing to the social, commercial, and social fabric of our growing community. The building, which was declared as a heritage site by the Ponoka Main Street Program in the 1980’s, was also recognized as one of the first affordable housing projects for single women in Ponoka. Our Ponoka Community Rest Room was sold to two young women in 1981, who, in a continuation of the association’s proud entrepreneurial spirit, have operated two successful businesses there. The association dissolved in 1992, donating $18,820.00 back to the community in the longstanding spirit and tradition of giving and caring for needs of so many in our town and surrounding districts.

 

Just Posted

Rollovers near Ponoka keep crews busy

Wintry road conditions proved a struggle for motorists on the QE2 highway with several incidents

Plane crash-lands near Ponoka

The airplane had its tail ripped off and it ended right side up in a copse of trees east of Ponoka

Ponoka barrel racer looks to strong future

Shayna Weir’s climb to CFR promises more to come for the barrel racer

Naked man arrested for impaired driving

The man allegedly fled the scene of a collision wearing only a sheet. Plus other Ponoka RCMP briefs

Ponoka Legion commemorates 100th anniversary of Armistice Day

Ponoka residents pack Legion hall during Remembrance Day

Winter weather hits parts of Canada

As some parts of the country brace for cold, parts of B.C. remain warmer than 10 C

Castor, Forestburg, coal workers get $257,644 to transition to low-carbon economy

Two transition centres will serve seven communities in the Battler River Region

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

PHOTO: Ponoka Stampede new suites construction begins

The Ponoka Stampede Wild West Suites construction has begun

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Saskatchewan college honours memory of Humboldt Broncos coach

Darcy Haugan wore jersey No. 22 when he was a star player with the Briercrest College Clippers

Liberals to act quickly if Saturday midnight deal deadline breached: source

Oh Friday, Canadian Union of Postal Workers said it would not bring the latest offers to a vote of its members

Police probe several allegations of sex assault at Toronto school

Police say they have learned of other incidents of alleged assault and sexual assault

VIDEO: The definition of a kilogram has officially changed

50-plus countries voted to a ground-breaking overhaul to the international system of measurements

Most Read