History of the Westsyde Squares
" THE WESTSYDE STORY "
1957 - 2001 by Malcolm Greenwood
"This has absolutely nothing to do with the novel of the same name, but to many of us in the Kelowna/Westbank area it means Square Dancing!"
Let’s go back to 1957 when British Columbia was preparing to celebrate a Centennial in the coming year. The Lakeview Recreation Commission members were discussing this important event and possible ways to celebrate. Several ideas were discussed and cast aside, until someone came up with the suggestion of Square Dancing, as it had been part of the heritage of the Old West. This presented another problem – who could Square Dance? This as it turned out, was a problem that could be resolved.
A gentleman from Summerland, Mr. Ray Fredrickson, met with a group at the Lakeview Elementary School lunch room that November and this was the start of the Westsyde Square Dance Club – better known as WESTSYDE SQUARES – and a long friendship with Ray, our caller and his late wife Doreen. We have been dancing Wednesdays from Fall to Spring ever since. We held our Club nights mainly at the old Westbank Community Hall until the Mount Boucherie Community Center was built.
We have been an active Club, dancing not only on Wednesday Club nights, but also the second Saturday of each month from October through ‘til June when other clubs are invited to dance to our local and visiting callers. Our club members are also travellers, and it is not unusual to see several squares visiting other Clubs and attending Jamborees and Square Dance Conventions in Canada and U.S.A.
Ray, after calling for us for nineteen years, decided it was time to retire and we are now equally well led by callers Ron & Elly Heichert, Pete Prentice and Bill & Helen Thomas. We were capably led in round dancing by teachers John and Kay Hutchinson until the untimely death of John.
Hank & Jetty Walstra are now our very capable Round Dance teachers.
As we of the Westsyde Squares looked forward to our 25th Anniversary, how would we celebrate? You guessed it – Square Dancing of course – and hope for many, many more years of the very same thing?
We Have long passed our 25th and have had our 40th Anniversary, We are now entering our 44th year. Ron & Elly Heichert have retired as caller couple, as have Hank & Jetty Walstra, our Round Dance teachers. They have been replaced by Barry Sjolin as Caller and Ken & Susan Boyd as Round Dance Cuers.
We are still dancing Wednesday evenings at Mount Boucherie Hall from October to April. Our Party Nights are mnothly from November to May. We have one Square Dance Weekend a year in April that is a Plus weekend. The weekend Plus dance is called "Cherry Blossom Swing" and it will be in its eighteenth year featuring top Callers from North America and very capable Round Dance Cuers. Dancers from many parts of B.C. attend as well as from Alberta and Washington State.
It would appear that we still have many good years ahead of us!
" THE WESTSYDE STORY " Continued by Lynda Bjalek (2016)
We are not dancing in Mount Boucherie Hall anymore as it has been turned into a City Hall by the now new West Kelowna City. We still dance every Wednesday from October to April but in the Westbank United Church. Our Party Nights are the 2nd weekend of April and November each year. These party nights are held in the Westbank Seniors Activity Centre.
The Weekend Party Night that was held in April was called “Cherry Blossom Swing”. It was very popular and the waiting list to get into the weekend was quite long. This weekend dance was a Plus dance with afternoon Rounds and A1 & A2 level square dancing. This weekend dance lasted for 25 years and the last dance was held the 2nd weekend of April 2008.
Our caller Barry Sjolin retired as of January 2016. Barry was our caller from 1994 forward. Our former cuer couple, Ken & Susan Boyd, have also retired. They were our cuer couple in 1992 until December 2009.
We now have young (25 year old) Dustin McGifford. Dustin has been our New Dancer teacher since 2008. Dustin is still our New Dancer teacher and also now our Club caller. We have New Dancers dancing on the same night as club. Our cuer is Regine Anderson of Penticton and Regine has taken over the club cueing since January 2010 and at that time she cued twice a month and the other Wednesdays the club used tapes until Regine was able to cue full time for Westsyde Squares beginning January 2011.
Club membership had dwindled to the point of only dancing two or three squares in an evening. Brian Elmer was instrumental in having a large advertising campaign and a new idea of doing a 10 or 12 week lesson called the West Coast Square Dance. It was a great success this first year (2015/16 season) for we have had 24 New Dancers graduate. This was done in two sessions. One started in September and they did the 10 – 12 weeks and then graduated into the club the middle of December 2015. The club danced to the Basics as the Mainstream program was introduced to these dancers. In January we started another 10 – 12 week session and will be graduating these dancers with Mainstream skills at the end of June 2016.
As Malcolm said, “We have many good years ahead of us.” Malcolm and Karleen Greenwood were a part of the original group that started Westsyde Squares and Malcolm passed away January 2010 and Karleen passed away May 2013. They were such wonderful PR people for the club and square dancing in general.
November 2017 is Westsyde Squares 60th Anniversary as a club. We are looking forward to an exciting 60th Anniversary year and are planning a big party to include our former callers Barry Sjolin, Ron Heichert and Bob Brander. Bob and Jan Brander came to Kelowna from Calgary October 1999. Bob was a caller/teacher so Westsyde put him to work immediately as New Dancer caller/teacher. Bob taught from 2000 to 2007. We have asked Barry Sjolin to co-host the calling with Dustin and, of course, hoping that Ron Heichert and Bob Brander will also join in. The club has asked Regine Anderson and Ken Boyd to co-host the cueing for this Fall Anniversary Party Night.
2017 should be a busy fun-filled year.
PAST CALLERS & INSTRUCTORS for WESTSYDE SQUARES
Nov. 1957 - June 1976, Ray & Doreen Fredrickson
Fall 1976 - 1978 - Pete Prentice - Ron & Elly Heichert
1984 - Spring 1994 - Ron & Elly Heichert
1994 - 2014 - Barry Sjolin
2011 - 2014 - Dustin McGifford (Once a month)
2015 - Present - Dustin McGifford
PAST NEW DANCER CALLERS
Fall, 1976 - Ron & Elly Heichert
1978 - 1985 - Bill & Helen Thomas
1986 / 87 - Bill & Shirley Thomas
1988 / 89 - Gene & Inez Ramsbottom
Jan. 1992 - Ron & Elly Heichert
1993 / 94 - Ron & Elly Heichert
Fall, 1995 - Dec. 1996 - Ralph & Molly Halsall
Jan. 1997 - Ralph & Molly Halsall
Oct. 2000 - 2007 - Bob & Jan Brander
Sept 2008 - Present Dustin McGifford
PAST ROUND DANCE CUERS & INSTRUCTORS
Nov. 1957 - June 1975 - Ray & Doreen Fredrickson
Fall, 1975 - 1979 - John & Kay Hutchinson
Fall, 1979 - 1992 - Hank & Jetty Walstra
Fall, 1992 - December 2009 - Ken & Susan Boyd
January 2010 - Regine Anderson, 2nd & 4th Wednesdays
January 2010 - 1st, 3rd & 5th Wednesdays - Taped Rounds
December 2010 - Present - Regine Anderson
PAST PRESIDENTS for WESTSYDE SQUARES
December 1957 Will Hollandm
November 1958 Bill Darroch
November 1959 Malcolm Greenwood
November 1960 Malcolm Greenwood
October 1961 Bob Scriver
October 1962 Malcolm Greenwood
October 1963 Malcolm Greenwood
April 1964 Joe Schneider
March 1965 Bill Johnston
March 1966 Bill Johnston
March 1967 Malcolm Greenwood
March 1968 George Sherstobitoff
March 1969 George Sherstobitoff
March 1970 Jess Coffey
March 1971 Malcolm Greenwood
March 1972 Art Dunn
March 1973 Art Dunn
March 1974 Malcolm Greenwood
March 1975 Malcolm Greenwood March 1976 John Wadleigh
March 1977 John Wadleigh
March 1978 Laurie Thomas
March 1979 Laurie Thomas
March 1980 Ian Taylor
March 1981 Alan Whale
March 1981 Herb Heywood
March 1982 Herb Heywood
March 1983 Herb Heywood
April 1984 Brian Elmer
April 1985 Malcolm Greenwood
April 1986 Stan McKay
April 1987 Barbara Latimer Needham
April 1988 Al Ritchie
April 1989 Ian Taylor
April 1990 Ian Taylor
April 1991 Stan McKay
April 1992 Stan McKay
April 1993 Herb Heywood
April 1994 Herb Heywood
April 1995 Dick Haycroft
April 1995 Stan McKay
April 1996 Carson Weisbeck
April 1997 Carson Weisbeck
April 1998 Herb Heywood
April 1999 Joan Ives
April 2000 Joan Ives
November 2000 Phil Douziech
April 2001 Phil Douziech
April 2002 Lynda Bjalek
April 2003 Lynda Bjalek
April 2004 Carson Weisbeck
April 2005 to January 2006 Carson Weisbeck
January 2006 Laurie Lloyd
April 2006 Lynda Bjalek
April 2007 Ron Mills
April 2008 Ron Mills
April 2009 Bob Brander
April 2010 Bob Brander
April 2011 Ron Mills
April 2012 Lynda Bjalek
April 2013 Lynda Bjalek
April 2014 Ron & Gerry McMullen
April 2015 Ron & Gerry McMullen
April 2016 Lynda Bjalek