Devlin Hall a source of community pride and years of happy memories

By Robin McCormick
West End Correspondent

Our local Devlin Hall may just be the focal point and heart of our community. Many residents likely believe this to be true, but none more then Freeda Carmody. Freeda took time from her busy schedule to share with me her memories and hope for the hall. Freeda has over 85 years of memories – since her childhood, anything that was happening in our small community took place at the hall.

Not only was Freeda and Jim’s (her late husband’s) wedding reception held at the hall, she happily remembers being a bridesmaid for her sisters Ethel(and Fritz) Audrey(and Pat) as well as close friend Ted Davis and Faye(Cooke).

Freeda reminisced about the Halloween Dances that were held in the upstairs of the hall, though the upstairs has since been removed. Families would come and enjoy the Halloween parties immensely. Freeda, being a teacher for many years, has memories of public school Christmas Concerts being held at the hall. It was quite a chore, not only the night of the concert but the day before the concert. The entire school would hold a recital with all students attending plus moving all the props to the hall. It was a lot of hard work but the community definitely embraced the yearly concerts and most likely put many people in the Christmas spirit – especially with a visit from Santa Claus at every concert.

Freeda Carmody has years of happy memories at the Devlin Hall. The local hub of activity is currently undergoing a facelift, thanks to provincial funding. —Robin McCormick photo

Many dances were held at the hall. At that time there were benches built all around the outside of the hall, making for a larger dance floor as the hall dance floor was much smaller then. Freeda remembers the wedding reception meal would consist of sandwiches and dainties. “The dance floor was always full,” shared Freeda. She spoke fondly of the music played by Jack Mutz and Al Stuart. There always was someone to call square dances, which Freeda and Jim always took part in.

Perhaps the memory I enjoyed the most was Freeda sharing with me, “I learned to Olde Time Waltz with Earl Lalonde. He would practice at home with a broom and then teach me at the dances. When I asked Freeda if she practiced at home with a broom, she shared, “No, but I did practice in front of my mirror.”

Many a Fall Supper was prepared at the Devlin Hall, just like there’s Fall Suppers that take place every fall now, one of the big differences was the UCW ladies cooked the meal in cook stove. The meal would always be delicious with turkey and all the trimmings including homemade pie. Florence (Freeda’s Mom) donated many a pie to the Fall Suppers.

Len Cooke was a real advocate for the hall, often seeing to it that changes were made to better the hall. At one time bingos we’re held at the hall. Freeda fondly remembers both the history books for our municipality being launched at the Devlin Hall as well as the LaVallee Municipality Centennial Dance being held at the hall.

When asked how she feels about the provincial funding in the amount of $111,000 from provincial funding recently allotted hall, Freeda responded “I’m very happy about it, it will be nice to have the hall refurnished, it’s a good idea to remove the stage as it’s not used anymore and will allow for more floor space. The many other changes are also also welcome to the hall.

Freda believes the hall is the heart and focal point of our community and always has been. It’s been a blessing to attend many events over the years and to help out many a time. “Anything big that’s going on, takes place at the hall. Although there have been many changes over my 85 years of involvement with the hall it’s as much a vital part of our community as it’s ever been.”

Lucille MacDonald (LaVallee reeve) also took time from her busy schedule to share with me some of the events that take place at the Devlin Hall. Weddings services and receptions, socials, funerals and funeral luncheons, birthday and retirement parties, wedding and baby showers, election polling, vendor locations, fundraisers, Christmas parties, quilting and scrap booking events and most recently our Strategic Planning Meeting, Council Meetings and probably some events have been forgotten.

Lucille shared she remembers her father, Russell MacDonald attending Meetings for Order of the Foresters also attending these meetings was Jim Barr and many others attended , this was many years ago.

Lucille also believes our local hall is a focal point of our community.

In May Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development announced provincial funding for over $111,000 for the Devlin Hall. This will provide funding for upgrades that will improve and enhance our Community Hall. The funds will be used to replace the existing stage with a new floor, repave the entrance walkway, upgrade the public washrooms, and install a water softener unit, backup electrical system, new furnace, and already in place a new sign.

It’s very obvious to myself and many our Devlin Hall is the focal point and heart of our community and we are fortunate!