More on the Vallican Whole Community Centre construction 
 Still under construction
The beams took a long time to build, many person hours and days. Some very skilled men, like blond, Dick Pollard, and tanned Al Luthmers, (in the photo) worked well along side hardworking women, Diane Adams and soon to be Dr. Laurel Limpus, who were new to construction tool work.  There were other men who were more challenged by this kind of cooperative learning.
I was the person who was there everyday, fostering the volunteer crews, assigning work laid out at weekly planning meetings on small bits of plywood and paper, identifying the skill levels needed for each task, and hopefully finding the right workers for the jobs.  The building is quite overbuilt, and as we go back in today to do renovations, we are reminded of the strength of 3" ardox nails. Joel Harris, Al Luthmers and I made sure the building got built, with the assistance and hard work of over 500 volunteers.

Murry Nelson, our neighbour, came from across the road to backfill around the posts, in a small way providing a level of aceptance missing since the digging and pouring of the original foundation. It was a fine sight. What was to become the best sprung dance floor in the Kootenays began to take shape.
The Pratts worked on the building, Steve, above, Barbara (left) Jim, and their mother and father, Gretchen and Michael. Youngest Martin was still a bit small for construction. Barbara went on to complete several years of an apprenticeship in carpentry.  Brian Marrion (on the right) was one of the founders of Theatre Energy, the first major rural theatre group in British Columbia to create and produce plays out of the lives and historyof the community.
Raising the beams was an incredible challenge, 30-50' long plywood box beams - 2 layers of two x fours and three layers of plywood glued together weigh a great deal.  The first beam raising day there were 50 or more people there, some to watch, some to help. We raised 6 beams that day, by hand, lifting the bottom onto the posts, and pulling them up to rest on the wall beam at the top. It was a beautiful sight. The angle of the roof reflected the angle of the mountain, just like Al said it would.
That wall may not look very big, but it was heavy and quite unwieldy. It was just one of the wall that went up that day when the women came to work together. They had such a wonderful time they decided to make it a practice, and women's workdays became a regular event during construction. There is both a joy and a sense of personal efficacy that comes from building something that stands tangibly before you. 
The pile of rocks which had lain for years in front of the building site magically became a grand staircase under the guidance and hard work of Michael Pratt and Philip Pedini. 
Many men lent their tools to the amateur women and children who were working regularly on the building. Glen Bass lent his worm-drive skill saw. Wayne Buckwa (far left in the photo) lent that lovely finishing sander that saw great use and created surfaces to make us proud. Gretchen Pratt and Denton Coates, at work at the saw, have both since died, but their dedication to the building serves as commemoration.
Tissy Carpendale was over 60 when she took ahold of the giant rotary sander used to sand down this floor. The fir/larch floor had been donated by an anonymous donor after we lived for several years  our original diagonally placed 2 x 8 sub-floor. Tissy could have been born to it, so well did she handle that monstrous tool.

After sanding that floor down and refinishing it 3 times (the tongue-in-groove flooring was getting mighty thin), in 1996, we laid a maple floor from Quebec. The woman who was once my apprentice (Sally Mackenzie - now a journeylevel carpenter/cabinet maker) led the crew of young people who laid the new floor, replaced the roof after 21 years, replaced the 2nd hand windows with thermopane glass in beatiful frames, tidyed up the trim. 

Maybe someday I will put the entire Vallican Whole Slide Show, 30 years of volunteer work on a community centre in the Slocan Valley up on the Web.... (coming soon! it will be nice to clean up the photography on this page, old photos, scanned, instead of the original slides. The page is a museum of the development of technology)


We did another major renovation of the Vallican Whole in 2004. Tamara Smith, our newly minted coordinator was the overseer of the job, and got her hands dirty (see upcoming VW Slide Show on DVD) as well. The job was completed just in time for wedding season. The Community Centre has gotten quite a reputation as "the" place for wedding festivities. Now we have a kitchen that can match our expectations! The kitchen has been the hope/dream/brainchild of Rita Moir, for lo these many years. Rita is the Whole's guardian, and lives in the house you can barely see over the railing, out the kitchen door. All good things come in time, just in time!

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