THE History of the ‘Malcom Munroe HoUSE’
The Munroe House came into being in the early 1900s. Alex Munroe had been to the Klondike Gold rush in 1898 and on his return he purchased the land and built a store. His home was located where the Marion Bridge Consolidated School stood. At a later date (around 1906), he added the main house to the store building. The house was bustling place. Mr. Munroe handled not only the store, but was a pit prop contractor supplying wood to the Dominion Coal Company and employed men (sometimes 8-10) to work in the woods, who stayed at the Munroe House. The store kept the house a very active place as many came by horse and wagon and sleigh by winter from long distances. The kitchen table was always full as the Munroes served at no cost to folks who had come to the store from long distances. The store had an entrance by the Main Road and probably measured 20×24 with a back room.
There were 2 counters on the North side of the store and the main one with the cash box, scale, and string for tying parcels, sugar, milk, cornmeal, and many other things.
They had to weigh or wrap it. Molasses came in puncheons measured out by quart or gallon.
The Munroes had running water in the house, which was supplied from a water tank with a 500 gallon wooden tank located in a high work building that was close to the house. A gasoline pump was in the basement of the house and that pumped the water to the tank which had free flow into the bathroom and the rest of the house.
It was a meeting place for most people in the village every evening, especially in winter. People gathered for the news of the day or to talk politics or tell stories. The young people would play cards at the kitchen table; Rummy 500 was the game at that time (1920s/1930s).
Munroe had 3 boys and 2 girls (one died very young). Effie MacCuish turned the living room into a hospital as she had her appendix removed in the front room by Dr. Kendall, who was a country doctor.
Munroes were the owners until approx. 1931. At that time it was sold to the Mira and District Adult Recreation who carried on a senior’s place of dinners, dances, skits, concerts, and anything to entertain. They established an auction and beef BBQ, which was carried on July 1st each year. The beef dinner was a highlight. Inside the house were a flea market, home cooking and new merchandise for sale. This carried on throughout the years…..
In 1972 a group of public-spirited citizens in Marion Bridge recognized the need for a community centre that would serve the recreational, social and cultural improvement needs of the older adults of the area.
They met in homes and church basements to agree upon plans to fulfil these needs. When, in November 1972, the late Malcolm Munroe’s widow offered the ‘Old Munroe House’ for sale, these citizens courageously bought it.
They had no money so a mortgage was their only resort. Five men, at no little financial risk to themselves, signed as guarantors of the mortgage.
Then followed seven years of unrelenting work and dedicated effort by those members to renovate and alter an old home into a centre with recreational facilities, and at the same time meet the payments on their mortgage plus the interest which at that time soared to 15%.
Most of these early members were still working full time but gave their evenings and weekends, their talents and their own materials to this daunting task. Strong friendships were welded as the building took shape. Those early members know the story, and their efforts, faith, and dedication were rewarded when, in November 1979, they wrote ‘paid’ to their debts and burned the mortgage.
On November 8, 2001 we marked our 29th anniversary of survival as a seniors’ organization, and as a service to the community.
We have been told, by officials of the Provincial Recreational Department, that we are unique in our record of independent senior organization, maintenance and survival and we take pride in or achievements.
Services to the Community:
Sponsoring an annual ‘flu Shot Clinic’ under the Dept of Health and providing a separate rest and refreshment area after inoculations
Sponsoring a Foot Clinic with a qualified R.N.
Organizing and providing facilities for instructional Classes: Painting, sewing, knitting, crocheting, Bunka (special embroidery), crafts
- Providing facilities for private functions, wedding anniversaries, family reunions
Social Activities: Adult dances, line dancing, teas for seniors.
Facilities for Special Service Groups:
Stitch Makers – a group of 25 or more meet regularly and use the building for a whole day’s work of making clothing, quilts, etc. For Transition House and Pre-natal gifts where needed
Cultural and Entertainment
November 27, 2006
Everybody was in shock! All the history of a fine, old home disappeared in a matter of hours,
Hazel MacDonald wrote a poem after the 2006 fire at the Mira Senios and Pensioners Centre
A landmark is gone
There’s an ugly space
Where the old house stood,
but in its place
The Seniors hope it will rise again!
Not as big and grand
As it stood for years
We watched it burn
And shed our tears.
Members were free
to spruce it up
As seasons changed,
It was all checked out
For Easter, Christmas
and Auld Lang Syne,
A spot to go – have a good time.
On rainbow wings
of hope and faith
Belief and work – Dream on
It seems its life is finished
The old Munroe House is gone!
But no – wait awhile
We are making a plan,
Not giving up – but building up
To have the Munroe House
June 27, 2008
Grand opening of the new building