HISTORY

The following timeline details the history of the Esquimalt Neighbourhood House society.

  • 1974

    1974

    The Ministry of Human Resources offered to fund communities via Community Advisory Committees.  A joint project began with Vic West, Esquimalt and View Royal at Vic West Ministry of Human Resources with a purpose to “help people to help themselves”. This group incorporated and formed a Society, the "Combined Esquimalt, Victoria West, View Royal Community Advisory Society", to provide social service support programs.

  • 1976

    1976

    Move to Esquimalt Human Resources office to allow for a community worker and 5 volunteers to provide service with annual funding from The Ministry of Social Services.

  • 1981

    1981

    A move to 1315 Esquimalt Road and 113 Admirals Square led to programs such as Alateen, Single Mothers Program, Parenting, and Grandparents Unite.

  • 1982

    1982

    LINKS program began for adults who were experiencing difficulties parenting their teenaged children.

  • 1983

    1983

    Another move to 522 Admirals made room for a Drop-in parenting program, Job Search, Public Nurse drop-in, and a Single Parent Group.

  • 1984

    1984

    A focus on Community Development evolved a Men’s support, Women with Partners, and Single Working Parent Support Programs.

  • 1985

    1985

    A non-smoking office emerged at Harbourview School, 637 Head Street, with many more new programs such as a Pre-school Co-op, Babysitting Referral and Co-op, Women's Friendship Group, Crafts for Mother’s, Upgrading, the first Volunteer Counsellor Training Course, First Aid Course, Dieting Course, Living and Learning with your Baby, Parenting Course, Walking Club, Adopt a Grandparent, Model Airplane Club and a gathering place for youth.

  • 1987

    1987

    A grant researcher was hired.  A children's clothing exchange, and a Drug and Alcohol Information and Education Program were added.

  • 1988

    1988

    Another move to 527 Constance Ave and a name change.   The Neighbourhood House movement in Britain was initiating community resources in the community where the needs arise.  This name was suggested by the Esquimalt Star the local newspaper and a new name emerged Esquimalt Neighbourhood House Society. A Toy library, WOW, and Job Development programs were added.

Esquimalt Neighbourhood House Home Hunting
image of people sitting outside
Life Skill at Esquimalt Neighbourhood House
image of people at a BBQ
  • 1989

    1989

    The Esquimalt Neighbourhood House Society was accepted as a member of the United Way with 10 full time and 3 part-time employees and began receiving some funding from United Way.   A Prenatal Outreach, Volunteer Leadership, Drop-in for Parents, Parent Education with Nobody’s Perfect, Best Babies and Hugs and Kids programs were added.

  • 1991

    1991

    The Society began looking for a stable location with a Community Counselling Centre and a playground for the over 50 children who came to the organization every day, a home to call their own to provide programs and be the community resource as they identified community needs and trued to meet them.

  • 1994

    1994

    The 10-month Volunteer Counselling training project began.

  • 1994

    1994

    After 3 years of fundraising, the Society purchased the house on 511 Constance Ave from the Esquimalt United Church. All programs except the Opportunity Centre (an employment training program) moved to the new location with a grand opening in September. The Phil Ross Room (minister of Esquimalt United Church who wanted the building to be a community resource) and the Stewart Room (Eldest son of first owners of the house who was born at the House, original “best baby”) were dedicated at this celebration.

  • 1994

    1997

    Completion of the Family Centre Playground.  Job Search programming started at the Opportunity Centre (ORCA-opportunity, readiness change and action).

  • 1998

    1998

    A Thrift Shop was opened to create independent funding to continue programs like the Volunteer Counselling program.

  • 2001

    2001

    There was a 25-year celebration of the Esquimalt Neighbourhood House Society.  Ninety percent of the Society's funding came from Government sources.

  • 2003

    2003

    The Opportunity Centre was closed due to the financial instability and financial risks.

Family Centre Esquimalt Neighbourhood House
image of a house renovation
Volunteers at Esquimalt Neighbourhood House
image of a house renovation
  • 2004

    2004

    The Moving Company program was introduced; its was intended to provide supportive employment training and opportunities for people suffering from persistent mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.   Clinical Counselling for acute mental health problems was added to the services at Esquimalt Neighbourhood House.

  • 2008

    2008

    The Thrift Shop was closed due to declining sales and the increase in Thrift and Consignment shops opening throughout the Capital Region.

  • 2009

    2009

    Fundraising such as the local Canadian Legion’s support for 50/50 draws, allowed for a new roof to be installed.

  • 2010

    2010

    Mortgage was paid off.

  • 2012-13

    2012-13

    With a legacy gift to Esquimalt Neighbourhood House from the Foster Family the Senior’s Centre was designed and completed in 2014. The building was dedicated to Hedley Frank Foster (Jimmy) and his wife Hazel (nee Fairall). The Bryan Mee Room (spearhead and sparkplug for all the fundraising for almost 20 years) was named for his contribution to Esquimalt Neighbourhood House.

  • 2014

    2014

    The entire family centre play area was redesigned -  its landscape and hardscape.

  • 2016

    2016

    A Forty-year celebration was held on site with neighbours and members attending the afternoon party.

  • TODAY

    TODAY

    Which brings us to NOW, volunteers, staff, community partners, members all have contributed to the stability of the operation through moves, program changes, funding decreases and new project opportunities. The needs of our community continue and as was stated from the onset, the Society will continue to respond the best it can.

The Early Days

The House was built for (Andy) Wallace Stewart and (Isobel) Isabella Robertson Isbister before they were married July 27, 1911, at St. Paul’s Church. The architect was H. Elmer Nelson.  The builder was Sweeny McConnell.  It was built from 1910 to 1911. The Stewarts lived in the house for 59 years.  Isobel died at age 86 in August 1971.  Andy died at age 99. Andy had worded at Bullen’s shipyard for 45 years and retired as the foreman blacksmith. Three sons were born at the home, Charlie, Bill, and Bob.

The House Changes Ownership

511 Constance Ave was later purchased by the Esquimalt United Church in 1979 and it was to be used as a manse.  Mr. and Mrs. Maularno lived in the house for several years as renters. The House was purchased from Esquimalt United Church by Esquimalt Neighbourhood House Society in December 1993 for $109,619.

Renovations

Renovations to the House started on April 22, 1994.  The House was raised to allow for an additional floor and was completely restored. The Project Managers were Tri-Scot Construction; Stewart Wallace, President, and Brian Duncan, Foreman of the project. Members of the Building Committee: Don Beamish, Bryan Mee, Marilyn Boulton, Cathy Christopher (Executive Director), Alex Bracks, Ed Bodman (Clerk of the Works). Esquimalt Neighbourhood House moved back into the House August 15, 1994. Renovations and additions totalled $287,466; Donated building materials totalled $35,135.

The Seniors Centre

The Seniors Centre building at the back of the property, (Foster’s Senior Centre) was built and completed in December 2013. The old garage was removed and construction was started on Foster’s Seniors Centre in the fall of 2013.  It was built by CA Coastal Construction Ltd; owner Colin Amey.

Family Centre Play Area

In 2014, CA Coastal Construction Lmited was hired to rebuild the outside play area.

[Information submitted by Bryan Mee our long-time volunteer and Board member ]