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Ardenville school in need of renovation

HEATHER CAMERON – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR

ardenville school

Ardenville school serves as a social centre for the local community

Ardenville school was named after a local farmer and was a school in the 1900s.
The school closed in October 1947 because there was not enough children to justify keeping it open and there was a great deal of support for moving the children who were attending to nearby schools.
“Communities bought these little country school houses to use as community centres,” Edith Evans of the M.A.E. Belles said. “In this area, they chose Ardenville school because it was on a highway.’
The M.A.E. Belles got their name from the McBride, Ardenville, and Ewelme school districts, all of which were formed in the early 1900s.
The club was just a ladies’ group in those days, Evans said. A lot of the ladies couldn’t drive and they didn’t get out much because people didn’t go to town every day.
The group has been using the old Ardenville school house for various things since the 1960s
“The ladies were farm women from these three districts,” Evans said. “Some had attended the school themselves or their husbands had.”
In 1951, Evans said, the Ardenville Social Group bought the school house for $375 and with some alterations, it was turned into a social hall of sorts.
Over the years, various alterations were done with the M.A.E. Belles Club taking the responsibility on in 1969 with them eventually obtaining the building title and land in 1971. All renovations were done by volunteers back then.
The school building has since been used for social functions such as weddings, Christmas concerts, and various other parties.
Now the roof, which has been repaired in the past, is leaking again and the M.A.E. Belles Club is raising money for repairs.
“At one time, when we were all young and everything, we could have fixed our own darned roof, but you can’t do that anymore because for one thing, the safety people would be after you and the other thing, we’re too old to do it now,” Evans said.
Evans said that although the building is old, it is still being used and will be used until the roof gives out completely.
“Now, most people go to town for their entertainment, so it’s pretty hard to keep these things going and the M.A.E. Belles are all getting so old, the oldest being 96,” Evans said.
The M.A.E. Belles have applied for some grants, but they don’t fit the criteria for being a charitable organization because of the amount of time that they have been around.
“It seems that there is interest in helping us, but because we are not a registered charity, this presents a problem in this day and age,” Evans said. “I doubt that any group had more charitable intentions than the M.A.E. Belles. We never envisioned our group as needing help, so we have fallen through the cracks somehow.”
The M.A.E. Belles are waiting for a response from the Community Facility Enhancement Program and the MD of Willow Creek has been supportive of the club’s desire to maintain the Ardenville Hall so it can continue to be used for community functions.
Unfortunately, Evans said, the M.A.E. Belles do not seem to qualify for help from historical interest groups because of the amount of changes made, but Evans believes that if the building hadn’t been upgraded when it first needed to be, there would be nothing left of the 105-year-old structure now.
“We think it should be saved, you know?” Evans said. “Because of its great historic value and we’ve all got great memories of things that happened there and it’s sad to see communities disappear because you hear lots of hype about building communities. Families of those people who built it (the schoolhouse) are still in the area and enjoying the events that are held there.”

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