FROM THE BEGINNING
Credit for the initial idea to form a Square Dance Club came from Lu Bara and Joanne Kopchia. They discussed doing something in a group that spouses would also enjoy. The formation of a Square Dance Club was the activity that they decided to pursue.
After recruiting a number of interested couples, the first meeting of the Square Dance Group was held on Tuesday, September 22, 1987, in the home of Lu and Marvin Bara. The future plans for the new Club began to take shape at this initial meeting.
Several names for the new Club was proposed. Ultimately the name agreed on by everyone in attendance at the initial meeting was the “West Edmonton Promenaders.”
The following Executive Officers were elected to lead the Club through its first year (1987-88)
- President Couple - Lu and Marvin Bara
- Secretary-Treasurer Couple - Norma and Matti Halowski
- Telephone and Social Couples - Jan and Larry Plamondon & Joanne and Tony Kopchia.
The next thing that was required was a location to hold weekly square dance sessions, preferably in the west end of Edmonton. A user permit was requested and received from the City of Edmonton to use the small gymnasium in St. Martha Elementary School on Tuesday evenings.
It was agreed that a fee of $5.00 per couple per night would be charged. To attract new members to the Club, advertisements were placed in the Good Shepherd Parish Bulletin and commercial outlets in the west end.
Yvonnne and Pat Chevalier, who had previous square dance experience, volunteered to find a caller couple for the Club. They were successful in recruiting Norm and Loretta Demeule from Fort Saskatchewan. The first square dance session held by the newly formed Club was on Tuesday, September 27, 1987, in St. Martha’s School.
During the first year, the ladies in the Club chose the club colours of white blouse and burgundy skirt. The men would wear a white shirt with a burgundy tie and navy blue trousers.
Gina and Bruno Martinello were asked to determine a mascot for the newly formed Club. After reviewing several options, they decided that in keeping with the idea of couples common in square dancing that a “geese couple” would make good mascots.
They created the “geese couple” dressed in the Club colours as the official Club mascots, and named them “Grace and Otis”. Bruno constructed a stand to hold Grace and Otis upright in the promenade position. To this day Grace and Otis join the Club for special occasions, they also have five new members added to their family.
Lu Bara was the member who designed and had the Club badge made in the shape of a barn and in a burgundy colour. The first “Beginner’s Graduation” and Wind-up Dance for the Club was held on May 3,1988. During the second year it became necessary to make a Club banner. Gina and Bruno Martinello volunteered to design the banner 3ft. x 4 ft. in the Club colours. A case and stand to hold the banner that is still being used was built by Mike Molden.
The West Edmonton Promeaders Square Dance Club was accepted as a member of the Edmonton & District Square Dance Association as of September 1988.
Full time Caller Couples for the Club were
- Norm and Loretta Demeule 1987 - 1989
- Henry and Helen Unrau - 1989 - 1998
- Gary and Trish (Minns) Winter 1998 - April 2017
The Club has danced in different locations, for several years we were dancing in the Westend Seniors Activity Centre, on a beautiful hardwood floor. Our Club is moving to Belmead Community League in September, 2018. With the exception of Loretta & Norm Demeule, all of the founding members have either passed or do not dance anymore. The Club was conceived and built on fun and fellowship and that philosophy still holds true, as it stuggles to find new members who are willing and able to stay with Square dancing. New dancers and guests are always welcomed with enthusiasm. West Edmonton Promenades celebrated their 25th year in 2012.
Compiled from notes found in the Club’s papers.