“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.” – The Lorax
Friends and families gathered along the shores of the Kootenay River at Taghum Hall on April 22, 2022, toasting Mother Nature with a rousing live rendition of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, a story about respecting nature and the power of action to affect positive change.
Young performers delighted the audience from the newly-installed gazebo as part of the Earth Day Festival, a bustling event that showcased the recent improvements made to the outdoor area surrounding the Hall that were supported with funds from Columbia Basin Trust. The Trust supports Basin communities to create, restore or enhance welcoming, safe and vibrant outdoor multi-use community spaces that support community gathering and programming.
Taghum Hall is operated by an independent volunteer board; anyone in the community is welcome to purchase an annual supporting membership for $25 to help preserve this local cornerstone, which has been serving the community since the early 1950s.
Jude Stralak, chairperson and board member for six years, appreciates the tireless efforts of Taghum Hall’s diverse volunteer network.
“Every event involves at least twenty volunteers donating countless hours,” she explains. “I have almost 2,000 hours of volunteer time myself. Recently, little kids came down with tiny wheelbarrows and sorted wood chips. An eighty-year-old fellow worked on the pathway. So we have volunteers that range in age from four to eighty.”
Alongside a new playground and pedestrian pathway, the Taghum Hall Outdoor Revitalization Project transformed the formerly uneven, rocky terrain into beautifully landscaped grounds, breathing new life into the public gathering space and exemplifying the Taghum Hall motto: “Building community, one event at a time.”
As a board member for the past six years, Heather Haake is impressed by the transformation. She also emphasizes the benefits for the Hall.
“It’s stunning,” she says. “The grass is green; there’s a lovely pathway with a new playground and the old storage shed is now a concession stand, where a local artist painted a mural. We now serve burgers and hot dogs so people can have their dinner here. People come from as far as the North Shore to attend our watercolour drop-ins every week. We’re drawing a broad population here.”
With the aid of grant funding, skilled trades people, volunteers and support from various community groups, the Revitalization Project built a covered gazebo for weddings, performances, farmers’ markets and other events; installed benches, picnic tables and solar lighting; laid down fresh sod; and planted trees for shade, providing a scenic area and inclusive cultural hub where people can gather outdoors in any weather.
The revitalization efforts also prioritized Taghum Hall’s historical and cultural roots, celebrating the Indigenous significance of the land.
“A local Indigenous woman received funding to make symbolic stepping-stones for the front, and they were included in the landscaping and grounds,” says Stralak. “It’s really beautiful to see — for reflection on reconciliation.”
Taghum Hall’s rejuvenated grounds now match the splendour of its interior, renovated in 2015 — all thanks to the collective of spirited volunteers who continue to offer their time and support to improve the family-friendly venue for both locals and tourists to enjoy.