Our ConstitutionOceanside SCD Constitution & By-Laws WP

Our History: 

The Nanoose Scottish Country Dancers were formed in 1984, the first class being Thursday, 13 September.

Pat Hills started the first group and Bob Vroom, with the able help of his wife Isabel, was our first teacher. Other members at that time were Bev Butler, Louise Hamilton, Gina Ladd, Margo Walters and Kelly Atkinson. Dorothy Schaupmeyer (Young) joined in November of the same year making one complete set. We met in the Nanoose Library Hall.

A group from Port Alberni joined us early in 1985, consisting of Evie and Tom Manning, Nora Harrach, Gail and Willie McFadden, and Bertha and Jack Smith. We had various other dancers from Port Alberni join us in the years that we all danced together, including Marianne McRae-MacLain, Ron Stephenson and his future wife, Loverne Appeldorne. Margaret Hastings (who was later to be one of our teachers) joined us around that time with her very good friend Joan Syme (Cochrane).

Don and Norma Emerson joined us in the fall of 1985. Shortly after that Bob and Isobel Vroom were transferred to Sidney and before Bob left he asked Don if he might consider taking over as club instructor and perhaps applying to the RSCDS to obtain a preliminary teaching certificate.

Don was subsequently accepted at the summer school at Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario, in August 1986 and was successful. Don tells us that the examiner that year was Alastair MacFadyen who was also chairman of the Glasgow branch of the RSCDS and long time friend of Miss Milligan, the society’s co-founder. Music was provided by the now famous Ian Powrie and the indubitable Stan Hamilton whose sense of humour was only matched by his talent on the piano.

Don took over as teacher from January, 1986 while living during the week with Bob and Isobel in Victoria and attending photography college. He would return every Friday to teach. However, after three years as instructor, a growing young family, and increasing work commitments, Don reluctantly decided to step down.

Rather than let the group fall apart, Margaret Hastings took over the teaching in 1990. We didn’t know for a long time that Margaret had started taking the training to become a Scottish Country Dance instructor. We were all very proud of her when she attained her certificate.

Our very first demonstration was on Saturday, January 19, 1985, at the Legion in Lantzville. We were so nervous, our mouths were dry and we could barely crack a smile. Bob Vroom had spent many years of his life in the Armed Forces and was very strict regarding footwork. However, during those early years, wherever we went dancing, people would say that they could recognize Bob Vroom’s students because of our footwork.

Other demonstrations were in Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Nanaimo, Ladysmith, Chemainus, Port Alberni and, of course, Nanoose. We were in the Lions’ TV Telethons on March 20, 1988, and February 18, 1990. We danced at various seniors’ homes in the area and always on special occasions such as Canada Day and Robert Burns’ day.

Those of us who participated in those demonstrations will recall the great variety of surfaces we were provided to dance on – everything from slippery grass then very hard concrete to splintered wood planks and areas where we could barely turn around. Still it was great fun. Some of us also made the Guinness Book of World Records when we danced the 256-some Reel at Simon Fraser University on April 24, 1988. We bought t-shirts picturing the reel and our place in it.

We joined the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society in Edinburgh, Scotland in January, 1988.

Bob Vroom took our first workshop in Nanoose Library Hall on Saturday, February 16, 1985 and it was followed by a dance.

Later we started the annual Spring Fling, which was the high point of the club’s calendar.  We always managed to attract great instructors from far and wide. Simon Scott from Vancouver and Bob Blackie from Toronto were with us during these years but always we were fortunate to have Ruth Jappy. Ruth would teach during the day and then call out the dances at the social while her husband Alex and daughter Maureen would play the music. We marvelled at the huge motorhome they always brought with them.

These workshops consisted of classes for Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced dancers. We little realized how brave we, as a very small club, were as dancers from the mainland, the sunshine coast and as far south as Victoria all came out to support us.

To start the weekend, we had a social on Friday night at the Nanoose Library and all the members brought cookies, cakes and sweet loaves for refreshments. I believe that was the start of us providing an unending supply of juice for the dancers! We had tea, coffee and something to eat for our guests during Registration on Saturday morning and we provided lunch – all put together by the members. Classes were held at various Nanoose locations and our dinner, followed by the social, was held at the Schooner Cove Resort.

Later Spring Flings had us holding the dinner at Island Hall, Parksville, where we had a piper walk us through the hotel and into the dining room in a truly grand march. Other dinners were held at French Creek House, with the social being held in the gymnasium of the Parksville Middle School – which we filled to overflowing with dancers.

More recently, the Spring Gala, as it came to be called, was held on the last Saturday of March every year, until it was changed to the first Saturday of April in 2009.

In the early days Pat Hills (now Fiddis) and Margo Walters would put their heads together and create “Scotty awards” for perhaps the most improved dancer or the best “hoocher” or any other crazy idea that they could come up with. These would be presented at our closing picnic in May every year. It was hilarious.

Pat also was the organizer for the Nanoose Library Ceilidh, the first of which was held on Saturday, February 2, 1985. The dancers played an important part, and we danced at this fund raiser for many years after we had moved on from the Nanoose Library hall. When Pat moved to Duncan in 1992, Janetta Begg took on this rather demanding task and brought in entertainment from far and wide – all for the benefit of the Nanoose Library which is run by volunteers and receives no other funding.

Janetta Begg had joined the Nanoose Scottish Country Dancers in 1990 having emigrated from Scotland with her husband David so that they could be closer to their five grandchildren. Janetta had taught Scottish Country Dancing for many years back in her native land and would help out whenever Margaret couldn’t take the class.

David MacPhail and his wife Margaret, originally from South Africa, joined us in 1995 and David taught our class until he died in 2001. By that time, Wes and Brenda Clindinning had joined us from Toronto. Wes is a ‘teacher’s teacher’ and had taught all over the world so we were extremely fortunate to have him in our group.

Janetta, Brian and June McFadden (originally from Ireland) and Wes all took turns leading our group until the class that Janetta was teaching in Qualicum Beach finished in 2002 and Janetta took over the Nanoose group.

We had a “15 year re-union” in 1998 (a year early) and it was a great success.

Three of our members thought it would be a good idea to start a basic class and in September, 2003, Valerie Allan, Rita Gibson and Anne MacLeod started our Beginners Group.

For the 2006-2007 dancing season, we moved our weekly dance classes to the Qualicum Beach Community Centre. The beginner’s class started at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday evenings, followed by the advanced class at 8:10 p.m.


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