Lyons Brook Hall entering new era

LYONS BROOK — Stakeholders with the historic Lyons Brook Community Hall hope they can get more people involved and utilizing it.
Willem Hekman, Len Thomas, Lynn MacLean and Kevin Hayhurst met recently to help prepare for the hall’s annual general meeting on March 28. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. downstairs and the group hopes for a good crowd.

Agenda items include changing the hall’s governance structure from the current trustees to directors to comply with listing the hall as a society under the province’s Registry of Joint Stock Companies.

“We’re trying to revise the group,” MacLean said. “We have weddings, different courses and lunch-and-learn events, but we’ll be asking the community what other purposes the building can serve. It’s a multi-purpose hall that can serve the community in many ways. We’re open to those ideas.”

The group is drawing on the hall’s history to encourage more people to organize and attend events there.

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It’s working with a long-held misconception that it is owned by the United Church of Canada as part of the multi-point charge that also includes churches in Salt Springs and Scotsburn.

United Church services take place there, but its ownership can be traced back to 1884 when its design and multi-purpose use was proposed.

Before the hall was built, people attended church in Pictou or Loch Broom.

“The church rents the hall,” she said.

MacLean shared a view of the records written by Alex Murray indicating that the first meeting took place on February 23, 1884 and that John Logan was appointed chairman and Murray was named secretary.

A main building 46 feet long and 27 feet wide and a rear wing 15 by 20 feet. It was agreed to defer building the wing if funds were insufficient for it, but it was later added to the main structure.

Records also show how it was arranged for horses in the community to haul stone to the property, which Logan owned and donated.

“It has always been a church but they didn’t build it as a formal church,” MacLean said. “They wanted to be able to move the pews out. We still move them out. I think these men in 1884 were very wise. They were thinking into the future. They didn’t want a church attached to any denomination. They wanted some flexibility.”

More stationary pews were installed in the 1960s when a basement was installed.

The local women’s institute, one of the more frequent users of the hall, raised the money, according to recordes in 1972-73, to put in a well to provide running water for the first time.

“The women’s institute contributed $600 to help put in the basement,” said MacLean. “That was a lot of money then. It is now.”

From the left: Willem Hekman, Len Thomas (holding a picture of the Lyons Brook Hall), Lynn MacLean and Kevin Hayhurst have been preparing for the annual general meeting of the hall on March 28. The photo was taken at a Red Cross bazaar at the hall in 1916 and was mounted in the picture frame for centennial celebrations in 1984. (Goodwin photo)

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Steve Goodwin
Steve Goodwin was born in Amherst, N.S. and has been a journalist for more than 40 years. He has been a resident of Pictou County for nearly 40 years.