History

HistoriansNick & Dorothy Dahm, Tillsonburg, ON

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8

Part 1

The Beginnings of Square Dancing in North America

When settlers arrived from Europe in the 18th century, they brought with them the traditional dances of the countries they left behind. For example, from England came the Morris Dance done by six men in two rows of three; from France the Cotillion, a dance done in a square formation with eight dancers. Round dancing was popular, too, with such dances as The Gavotte, Minuet and Waltz. As people travelled to various regions, different dances were learned and existing ones modified and renamed. Country dancing and early forms of square dancing appear to have flourished until the early 1900s when a decline in popularity set in.

In the 1920s none other than industrialist, Henry Ford, become interested in square dancing and, with the assistance of dance instructor Benjamin Lovett, a program was set up and square dancing was taught in a lavish hall built by Ford. And so interest in square dancing and many of the old‑time dances was revived and the Fords began hosting regular gala events. In 1926 Ford and Lovett jointly published a book extolling the virtues of square dancing.

One avid reader of this book was a Colorado teacher named Dr. Lloyd ‘Pappy’ Shaw. He was intrigued by the lack of reference to Western “cowboy dances” and decided to conduct his own research into the *American Dance”. In 1939 he published a book on western square dancing, the first of its kind, and later a similar one on round dancing.

Both Dr. Shaw and his wife, Dorothy, were enthusiastic square dancers. He trained teams of dancers and took them across the country exhibiting and teaching; he also conducted classes for new dance leaders. As a result of Dr. Show’s endeavors, enthusiasm for the activity was widespread. There was equal enthusiasm for round dancing, but back then there was no cuer: the steps were memorized. Dr. Shaw died in 1959 (the year, coincidentally, that SWOSDA was founded) but his wife continued to teach square dancing in Colorado Springs.

In the 1950s traditional square dancing began to change. More and more movements were introduced and, with the advent of public address equipment and the use of recorded music, modern square dancing, as we know it today, evolved. The American contribution to the development of square dancing was the caller, sometimes called the prompter, because he prompted the dancers’ memories of patterns they had learned. Over the next 20 years, hundreds of new calls were created. At the same time more and more round dances were being written and complex new rhythms added. As a result, a cuer became a must for the dancers who had neither the time nor the interest to memorize large quantities of material.

By the mid 70s, the organization CALLERLAB was introduced to bring order to the “new call confusion”. It established standard dancing programs (basic, mainstream, plus, etc.) and provided standard call definitions, timing and styling.

The Introduction of Square Dancing in Southwestern Ontario

In 1954, Harold Harton of the Community Programs Branch, Department of Education, Toronto, held his second Summer School of Modern Square Dancing at Geneva Park in Muskoka. Some of his dance literature was mailed to the Recreation Director in Kitchener who, in turn, gave it to Kay Sehl because of her interest in square dancing. Kay and her sister, Teresa White, enrolled at the school and soon learned that modern square dancing was far removed from the old‑time “hillbilly” style.

From this initial start, the Kitchener Recreation Commission, under the chairmanship of Mr. Pete Christilaw, invited Harry and Kay Sehl to organize a group of dancers. An executive was appointed at the first meeting with 13 dancers in attendance. Harry and Kay Sehl were the first presidents of the club known as “Couples ‘n’ Squares Dance Club. Plans were proposed to hold a dance every other week at the Victoria Park Pavilion and within weeks this hobby became so popular that membership was closed at 981 couples. A waiting list of over 40 couples was held over until the following year, 1955, when the second club, known as “Swing and Whirl’, was organized.

Enthusiasm for square dancing soon spread and, over the next few years, many clubs were organized in the surrounding towns and cities. Owing to the limited number of callers and leaders, the need for a “Callers’ Clinic” was apparent and workshops were held in London, Stratford, Woodstock and Kitchener at which Mr. Harton gave freely of his time and guidance.

Part 2

SWOSDA: Time to Organize

Kay and Harry Sehl, Presidents of the Couples ‘n‘ Squares Dance Club in Kitchener, became aware of the need to organize the clubs in south‑western Ontario based on their experience as members of the Toronto & District Square Dance Association. Once again, Harold Harton of the Community Programs Branch, Department of Education, Toronto, provided help. On his advice a letter was sent to all the existing clubs in this area inviting them to send a representative to a meeting to discuss the matter. As a result, 17 delegates met on May 5, 1959, at the home of Harry and Kay Sehl, 210 Stirling Ave. N., Kitchener. The delegates represented seven clubs from Preston, St. Thomas, London, Woodstock, Stratford, Kitchener and Waterloo. Mrs. Marie McKechnie acted as secretary.

Mr.Harton explained the functions of the Toronto Association and answered many questions. Kay Sehl subsequently proposed the formation of an Association in this area. The vote was unanimous in favour of forming an Association and a fee of $5.00 was suggested. This was not to be an annual fee ‑ rather, an initial fee f rom each club to help organize the Association.

The immediate need for Callers’ Workshops was recognized and plans were made for two to be held in Woodstock on May 21st and June 10th. Harold Harton conducted both. They were well‑attended and created an interest among several dancers in learning to call.

SWOSDA: Its Founding

The initial Organization Meeting was held on September 15,19 clubs were invited. Chaired by Kay Sehl, the meeting was held in Stratford with W.C. Woods of Preston acting as secretary.

Approval was eventually reached to establish an Association of an elected president and board of directors composed of four members.  It was agreed that the Association would be an administrative group offering guidance to square dance clubs in the area and that Workshops would be an integral part of its work.

Elections

A nomination committee was appointed to bring in a proposed slate.  Harold Harton chaired the elections and the following were installed.

President Mrs. Kay Sehl, Kitchener
Vice-President Mr. Earl Campbell, London
Secretary Treasurer Mr. Pat Flynn, Preston
Directors Mr. Elmer Haveling, Stratford
Mr. Ron Thornton, Woodstock

 

Mrs. Sehl took the chair and the work of the new Association began. It was to be known as the “South Western Ontario Square Dance Association ‑ SWOSDA”. Eight clubs paid the initial fee and plans were made to hold a Workshop in Woodstock on November 7th at which Beginner Callers would be invited to call.

(Harold Harton who, Incidentally, was the founder of the Toronto & District Square and Round Dance Association and the first recipient o f the Ontario Square and Round Dance Federation ~ ‘Trillium Merit Award”, died on January 27, 1999, one month after his 90th birthday.)

SWOSDA: The First Workshop

This was held in Woodstock at the YMCA on November 7,1959, with 43 members attending the afternoon program. The Beginner Callers took over part of the program under the guidance of callers El Haveling and Earl Campbell.

The evening dance was well attended by over 80 dancers. Kay Sehl was M.C. and the Club Callers conducted the program. Enthusiasm was high. The Callers were El Haveling, Pat Flynn, Earl Campbell, Kay Sehl, Ron Thornton, Bill Blaney and Perry Stuart. It was reported as “a gala evening”.

Preceding the evening dance was a pot‑luck supper immediately followed by a short business meeting. Plans were made to hold two dances early in 1960 with Earl Parkes of Saskatchewan as quest caller. One was planned to be held in Kitchener, and the other in Stratford. The program for each would include the teaching of a new round dance and “Del Rio” and “Happy Polka” were selected.

Part 3

SWOSOA: Its First Full Year of Operation, 1959‑60

By the time of SWOSDA’s first annual meeting in 1960, held in conjunction with the May workshop and dance at the YWCA in Kitchener, the delegates were unanimous in their optimism about the future of SWOSDA. All agreed that its first year had been a very successful one and that square dancing had, indeed, become an accepted and satisfying recreation for all age groups.

During that year many new clubs were organized throughout south‑western Ontario and there was a steady growth in the number that joined SWOSDA. At its founding meeting in May 1959, seven clubs were represented. A year later 12 clubs had become members of SWOSDA, each paying an annual fee of $7. Scattered tidbits of information indicate that the 12 clubs likely included Awaywego (St. Thomas); Beaux & Belles (Kitchener); Circle‑4 (London); Couples ‘n’ Squares (Kitchener); Four Square (London); Princess Elizabeth (London); Square‑A‑Naders (Brantford); Squarenaders (London); Swing and Whirl (Kitchener); Stonetown Steppers (St. Mary’s); the Stratford Square Dance Club and the Y’ Promenaders (Woodstock).

Monthly business meetings quickly became the norm during the dance season and some key decisions were made during that first year, the principles of which would remain in effect for the next 45 years.

Three afternoon workshops plus evening dances were held during the 1959‑60 dance season, the first in Woodstock in November 1959. It was well‑attended, as were the two that followed in the spring of 1960 in London and Kitchener. From the very beginning those involved in the creation of SWOSDA recognized the need to not only give new callers and cuers as many opportunities as possible to practice their skills, but also to provide an opportunity for all dancers to experience other callers and cuers in a social setting. The decision to hold regular workshops and an evening dance on the fourth Saturday of each month dates back to May 1960. Also at that time it was agreed that this monthly event should be rotated among the various communities where SWOSDA clubs were located. For the 1960‑61 dance season, the admission fee was set at $1.50 per couple.

Early in 1960 another important undertaking was to write to the Department of Education to request that its Community Programs Branch sponsor annual beginner courses in square dancing through the local recreation committees. SWOSDA callers volunteered their time to assist in the teaching of these courses.

It was decided, too, that the SWOSDA Executive should be composed of a president and six executive officers, all to be elected, as well as the immediate past president.

SWOSDA’s first election of officers took place at its annual meeting in May 1960. Ernie Crabtree of Toronto, caller for the evening dance, was appointed chairman on this occasion. The following were installed for the 1960‑61 dance season:

President Earl Campbell, London
Past President Kay Sehl, Kitchener
Vice-President Ron Thornton, Woodstock
Recording Secretary Cec Downham, London
Corresponding Secretary El Haveling,Stratford
Treasurer Bill Little, Kitchener
Publicity Marshall Ariss, Kitchener
Executive at Large Bill Blaney, St. Thomas

(“couple” positions were introduced in 1971‑72)

The Role of Municipal Recreation Departments

SWOSDA received word in May 1960 that the Department of Education supported its request and would sponsor annual beginner courses in square dancing. As the Department of Education had turned the matter over to the various municipal recreation departments, SWOSDA then wrote to the recreation directors in 20 areas seeking their cooperation in sponsoring beginner courses in the Fall of 1960.

During those early years, Recreation Departments in south‑western Ontario played a very important role in the advancement of square dancing. London‑area clubs were fortunate to have a great ally in W. J. Pilsworth, Assistant Director of Recreation for the City of London. He believed that municipal recreation departments should provide basic instruction in a wide range of activities for adults and that square dancing should be a part of every municipal recreation program. His reasoning? Because of its high rating on the recreation scale: square dancing is highly active, highly social, and skill learning is required which provides a high level of satisfaction. Accordingly, basic courses in square and round dancing were sponsored by the City of London for several years.

Mr. Pilsworth also held the view that a municipal recreation department had a responsibility towards the graduates of square dance classes to ensure they were able to pursue their chosen recreation on a continuous basis. As a result, his Department organized an intermediary club for the express purpose of assisting square dance graduates to move into club‑level dancing and former dancers to brush up their skills without the need to enter a basic class.

Another vital role played by recreation departments was to assist clubs in finding suitable facilities in schools and recreation centres. The facilities were provided at cost by assessing each club an amount to cover the cost of custodial fees and special services.

Records show that municipal recreation departments continued their involvement in some areas until at least the mid‑80s.

Part 4

SWOSDA: Milestones and Memories

Much enthusiasm and energy was created by and among square and round dancers during SWOSDA’s first year. It gathered speed over the next decade and SWOSDA had good reason to take pride in its accomplishments during those first ten years. During the 70s and 80s a fairly comfortable plateau was reached with respect to the routine operation and organization of SWOSDA, but there was growing concern towards the end of the 70s about the recruitment and retention of new dancers. Looking back over the years, SWOSDA has continued to be well supported by its member clubs and their dancers, even though the dancers are fewer in number than in earlier years.

Kay & Harry Sehl

1960-61: A bittersweet period for the founders of SWOSDA. Harry died very suddenly in 1960 following the November workshop and dance at which he and Kay had led the round dance hour. Kay, who continued to call for many years, was made Honorary Life President of SWOSDA in 1961 and in 1985 received the very first Trillium Award of Merit awarded by the Ontario Square and Round Dance Federation. She remained an avid supporter of the square and round dance movement until her death on April 7, 1991.

The Bugle

1961: The year that the idea of a newsletter was conceived and the costs researched. Initially, SWOSDA’s publicity member put together a package of information (minutes of the meetings and a calendar of upcoming dances) that was handed out at each SWOSDA dance in 1962. By February 1963 the first copy of the SWOSDA Bugle, edited by Joe Matika, was received with much enthusiasm. Each club was asked to appoint a Club Reporter so that ideas and club activities could be reported and shared through the newsletter with other clubs. Over the years as technology improved the Bugle editors moved from cutting stencils on standard typewriters to computer generated copy and from mimeographing to the much faster, cleaner and more user-friendly (sometimes) printer in use today.

Freshmen’s Frolic

1962: A new venture for SWOSDA was the introduction of a Freshmen’s Frolic. The first was held in Woodstock in March. Over 160 dancers attended and it was deemed to be “very refreshing and successful”. Now sponsored by Callers’ Clinic, three Frosh dances especially choreographed for new dancers are held in London in January, February and March each year.

Callers’ Clinic

1963: Formed as a committee of SWOSDA under the chairmanship of Johnny Davidson, Callers’ Clinic was the forum through which all area square dance callers and round dance leaders could obtain new material, new ideas and information about square dancing in general. It first met on February 10, 1963, and thereafter monthly meetings were held for callers and cuers to study ways and means of better preparing and presenting a program that would appeal to as large a number of dancers as possible. Over the years many formal programs of varying lengths have been sponsored by Callers’ Clinic for prospective callers or those wishing to take a refresher course. The first, completed by 22 callers, was a ten-week course in 1968 conducted by callers Earl Bowles, Perry Stuart, Ernie Holland and Lloyd Buchanan. The purpose of Callers’ Clinic remains as important today as ever – new records are reviewed, new moves are practiced and seminars and workshops are held on a myriad of topics ranging from the art of teaching and calling to choreography, timing, the use of microphones, voice and presentation skills – to mention but a few.

Junior SWOSDA

1963: During the Easter weekend, over 160 young square dancers from eight junior farmer clubs of southwestern Ontario attended a Spring Jamboree in London. From their wish to meet again came the idea of forming an association through which a continuing relationship could lead to the standardization of children’s square dancing. Permission from SWOSDA was received to call the group “Junior SWOSDA”.
The main goals of the association were to promote standardization of basics for all young square dancers of southwestern Ontario; to pool leadership resources to help beginner group leaders; and to spread the word that “square dancing is fun” to more and more young people. A giant stride toward achieving the first two goals was taken earlier in 1963 when on three consecutive Saturday mornings Junior SWOSDA conducted a course for London public school teachers in the teaching of children’s square dance basics. This was accomplished through the cooperation of Mr. J. N. Given, Superintendent of Public Schools, London, and Mr. Tom Hennessy, Supervisor of Physical Education, London, and through the tireless and dedicated efforts of Earl and Marie Bowles, presidents of Junior SWOSDA, who conducted the course. Plans were made to repeat the course in the fall.
While the number of active clubs fluctuated over the next few years, Junior SWOSDA was able to stage two very successful Fall Round-Ups in Woodstock and London and to hold two more Spring Jamborees – one in London and one in Exeter. Attendance varied from 75 to 300 dancers.

Joint SWOSDA and T&D Dances

1964: Following the first, and highly successful, jointly sponsored dance, the executives of SWOSDA and the Toronto & District Square & Round Dance Association (T&D) agreed that it should become an annual event. For several years – until approximately the mid-70s – at least one jointly sponsored dance was arranged each year. Much to the pleasure of many dancers, this tradition was revived in 2002 by the joint efforts of T&D’s Dean Fisher and SWOSDA’s Charlie McClure. On November 16 of that year, 26 squares of dancers enjoyed dancing to Jeff Priest (who was MC for the day), Dave Williamson, Les Greenwood, Dean Fisher and Charlie McClure. Bob and Betty Beck, Andrea Priest and Dan Roy cued the round dances. During the evening Jeff Priest introduced executive members from T&D and SWOSDA, as well as representatives from the Ontario Square & Round Dance Federation and the Canadian Square & Round Dance Society. It is hoped that the success of this event will ensure its continuation in years to come.

Centennial Booklet

1966: SWOSDA’s Centennial Project for 1967 was the production of a Centennial Booklet to create interest among dancers and to stimulate interclub visitations over the year. The booklet was made up in ticket form, one for each square dance club in Ontario that wished to participate. Each ticket noted the date, time and location of the club’s regular dances. A club could order as many booklets as were required by its dancers at a cost of $4.00 per couple, which included a pair of badges designating the wearers as Centennial Year Square Dancers. Each ticket entitled the bearer to dance free with that club on one of its regular dance nights during the Centennial Year.

Swinging Fashions Sewing Book

1969: Several callers and their partners produced “Swinging Fashions”, a sewing booklet published by SWOSDA. The booklet was edited by Lloyd & Florence Clayton with the assistance of Floyd & Helen Stewart and John & Mary Hern, and was printed by Earl & Marie Bowles. It proved very popular and more than 500 copies were sold during the 1969-70 dance season. It contained a collection of patterns, many of which were submitted by SWOSDA dancers.

10th Anniversary

1969: By the time of its 10th Anniversary Dance on April 26, SWOSDA boasted a membership of 33 square dance and two round dance clubs. The Anniversary Dance was hosted by the two Sarnia Clubs: the Swinging 8s and the George-Anna Squares and the entire program was arranged by the ten past presidents: Kay Sehl, Earl Campbell, Ron Thornton, El Haveling, Dene McConnell, Bill Blaney, Fred O’Connell, Cec Downham, Mort Torgerson and Floyd Stewart.

SWOSDA Hosts British Dancers

1970: A page of autographs in the History Book recalls the more than 100 British square dancers who visited London, Ontario, for two days in 1970. When word of their impending visit reached SWOSDA, a Host Committee chaired by Lloyd Clayton was established to ensure that it was a well-organized and memorable visit for everyone. With the help of dancers from area clubs, a “Buddy Couple” system was set up whereby each local couple hosted a visiting couple. It’s reported that when the buses arrived carrying members of 12 square dance clubs from England, a cheer went up in every bus at the sight of the many welcoming banners that were displayed.

Later the same day a dance was held at the Prince Charles Public School in London at which Cliff Beaver was Master of Ceremonies. It’s reported that 400 dancers attended and banners representing both Canadian and British clubs were displayed. A special banner across the stage welcoming the dancers was presented to the English tour leaders, Fred & Gwen Manning, and each visitor received a commemorative badge depicting the Bugle flag and “SWOSDA 1970” printed below it. Each lady also received a copy of SWOSDA’s Swinging Fashions sewing book.

On their second day in London, the visitors attended a picnic and dance at Springbank Park. The Mayor of London was on hand to welcome them and presented each with a coffee mug bearing London’s crest. Water from the River Thames in London, England, was mixed with that of the Thames River, London, Ontario, and soil from England was mixed with some at a site in the park. At a dance later that day, over 450 dancers gathered and many lasting friendships were made.

National Square Dance Week

1970: The first reference in SWOSDA materials to National Square Dance Week appeared in 1970 and an article written for the London Free Press by SWOSDA Historian Roberta McConnell explained the difference between “the hoe-down type of country music with its energetic swinging” and “modern square dancing: moving with ease to modern music and executing many variations of dance figures”. Readers were encouraged to consider taking up square dancing: “one of the most refreshing and fun-filled hobbies that any couple can share”.

Ontario Square & Round Dance Federation

1980: Ed & Jean Christian of Aylmer represented SWOSDA at meeting in Whitby to discuss the formation of an Ontario Federation. Its purpose was to provide a structure through which all square and round dance associations in the province could work together to strengthen the movement in Ontario, and to serve as a united voice for Ontario at the national level through the Canadian Square & Round Dance Society. The Christians subsequently served on a 15-member steering committee which drew up the necessary documents that were required for incorporation. On August 1, 1982, the newly formed Ontario Square and Round Dance Federation was officially incorporated. SWOSDA’s two representatives to the Federation’s first board of directors were Ed & Jean Christian and Denny & Judi Howlett. Ed Christian was elected as its first President.

25th Anniversary

1984: About 300 dancers attended SWOSDA’s Anniversary Dance at College Avenue Secondary School in Woodstock in October. It created fond memories for some because the first dance of the newly formed SWOSDA in May 1959 was also held in Woodstock at the YMCA. Special guests at the 25th anniversary celebrations included 83-year-old Kay Sehl, founder of SWOSDA, along with 17 other past presidents. Participating in the dance program were callers Ken Brennan, George Watson, Alex Piggott, Howard Weir, Harold Clark, Perry Stuart, Lawrence Mitchell, Mack Macdonald, Denny Howlett, Egbert Jacobs, Len Rowe, Bill Blaney, Garth Calvert, Al Calhoun (who was guest caller for the evening dance), and leading the rounds were Lois Wise, John Wilson, Hilda Hibbert, Jim Gillespie and Peter Chandler.
An article in the Bugle noted that the 25th Anniversary Dance marked three important milestones in the history of SWOSDA:

First, 25 years of service to the southwestern Ontario square and round dance movement despite the  critics’ predictions in 1959 that a dancer-operated organization would not survive for one year.
Secondly, the growth of the Association from a few dedicated clubs to more than 36.
Thirdly, the change in name – to the South Western Ontario Square and Round Dance Association – a change that was made to recognize the role and support of the round dance clubs and their leaders. The members agreed that, except for official purposes, the venerable acronym ‘SWOSDA’ would still be used in reference to the organization and its dances.

Twenty years further along, SWOSDA continues to play a key role in the promotion of square and round dancing and an important service to its member clubs, which have grown in number to 45.

Part 5

SWOSDA: More Milestones and Memories

SWOSDA’s early years were periods of rapid growth, not only in terms of increasing numbers of member clubs, dancers and new initiatives, but in its development as an association.

The Executive Committee

Executive meetings have always been scheduled each month during the dance season and the Executive continues to meet today immediately prior to the monthly dances.   Only recently (2000) were general meetings reduced from six to three per season (November, February and April).  They require a quorum of club representatives and are held in conjunction with a monthly dance at the end of the afternoon session just before the supper hour.

During 1959-60, SWOSDA’s initial year of operation, a board of directors composed of the president, vice-president, secretary-treasurer, and two directors managed the day-to-day business of the association.    A year later, in 1960-61, SWOSDA’s first executive was composed of the past president and 7 elected officers: president, vice-president, recording secretary, corresponding secretary, treasurer, publicity representative, and an executive member at large.

In the mid-60s the executive expanded to help spread the workload involved in the planning and preparation of the monthly workshops and dances – arranging for host clubs, obtaining suitable facilities, drawing up the square and round dance program, attending the registration table, designing the flyers, preparing a write-up for the Bugle and, most important of all, securing square dance callers and round dance leaders (who have always volunteered their time for these occasions), as well as a host of other time-consuming details that are dealt with behind the scenes.  New positions included a representative responsible for Doors & Badges (1964); a Square Dance Section Leader; a Round Dance Section Leader; and a representative responsible for Halls and Refreshments (1966).   Also, the role of vice-president was expanded to include the duties of Program Chair (1966).  A non-executive position, that of Historian, was created in 1963.

The club visitation program was implemented in 1962.  As is the case today, it involves the visit of a member of the executive to various area clubs to speak about SWOSDA and the benefits of membership.

Thus the groundwork was laid for the Association’s operation during the next four decades.

Monthly Workshops and Dances

The basic format for SWOSDA’s monthly workshops and dances has been followed successfully for the last 45 years and continues today.  Each season a dance is held on the fourth Saturday of the months of October, November, and January through April.  A different SWOSDA club hosts each one.   The level of dance is Mainstream with announced Plus tips and Phase II rounds, and the program includes a Round Dance Hour immediately prior to the beginning of the evening dance.  Some time during 1964 the members voted to reduce the number of dances in a square dance tip from three to two.

To encourage dancers who had never before attended one of the monthly dances, the idea of half price tickets was introduced in 1990.  Any SWOSDA club dancer attending a SWOSDA dance for the first time would be admitted for half price on that one occasion.  Half price admission is still available today to first time attendees.

Round Dance Gala

A major change occurred in 1982 with the introduction of a new program for round dancing.   The Round Dance Gala, which is still held twice a year in May and September, became part of SWOSDA’s regular dance schedule.  The first Gala was held at the Medway Community Centre in London on May 29, 1982, with 70 couples in attendance.  Much of the initial planning and preparation was done by round dance leaders Ed & Kitty Giles (Sarnia) and Ed & Lois Wise (Clinton).  Also on the program were Celia Chandler, Peter Chandler, Hilda Hibbert, John Wilson and Jim Gillespie. It provides three hours of non-stop rounds cued by local round dance leaders from Easy Level Square Dance Rounds to Intermediate Level Rounds.

Promotion

As the 80s drew to a close, square and round dance leaders spent more and more energy in an attempt to re-create the fervor that gripped square dancers in earlier decades.  The 90s marched quickly along and by the year 2000 square and round dancing in general was faced with fierce competition.  Not only had leisure time become a scarce commodity for many prospective dancers, but they were faced with many other choices with which to fill that limited time.  Fortunately, there remains a core of dedicated, enthusiastic people who continue to hope for resurgence and seek ways to increase interest in the activity.  Over the years many ideas have been and continue to be explored to publicize square and round dancing and encourage growth in the numbers of dancers.  It continues to be a perennial challenge.

At the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto in 1997, the Ministry of Transportation unveiled the new Square Dance Graphic License Plate.  To help promote square dancing, this project was initiated in 1996 by SWOSDA club members Peter & Norma Fleming (Royal City Squares) with the help of Ken & Eva Earle.  SWOSDA and other square dance associations in Ontario as well as the Ontario Square & Round Dance Federation supported the idea.  The Federation was successful in obtaining the necessary approval from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation; royalties from sales continue to be used by the Federation to further promote the activity in Ontario.

Technology

The 1990s brought more technological change.  Fax and e-mail facilities made communication faster and easier between SWOSDA and its member clubs; hand-drawn flyers were replaced with computer-generated copies; print material also became computer-generated; printing and duplicating facilities greatly improved.  A major step forward occurred towards the end of the 90s when Peter Piazza (Shiloh Buckles & Bows) developed SWOSDA’s first home page on the Internet.  In 2002 then past president Dan Roy (Kincardine) undertook to upgrade the website and the SWOSDA.ca name was registered; he continues to update and expand the site.

As technology advanced, and funds allowed, other significant changes over the years have included the purchase of improved turntables and sound equipment for the monthly workshops and dances and in 2001 hearing enhancement equipment was purchased, the cost of which was shared by SWOSDA and Callers’ Clinic.

Part 6

SWOSDA: Trillium Award Recipients 1985-1995

The Trillium Award program was developed by the Ontario Square and Round Dance Federation, which makes the awards annually to recognize meritorious contributions to the square and round dance activity.  The two unique Trillium awards are the highest that can be bestowed by the square and round dance movement in Ontario.  Awarded to dancers, callers and leaders in the Province of Ontario provided they have been involved in the activity for five years or more, the Trillium Merit Award recognizes excellence, dedication and outstanding achievement, and the Trillium Long Service Award acknowledges contributions that reflect a continuing dedication to the activity for a period of 25 years or more.

Since the program was first introduced in 1985, recipients have been nominated by regional square and round dance associations (or clubs in the absence of an association) across the province: Southwestern Ontario, Eastern Ontario, Toronto & District, Sudbury Area, Lakehead & District, Fort Frances and Sault Ste. Marie.  Of the 89 Merit Awardsconferred by the Federation since the program’s inception, 25 have been awarded to members of SWOSDA.  Of the eight Long Service Awards presented, SWOSDA members have received three.

Trillium Award of Merit – SWOSDA Recipients

Space permits merely a thumbnail sketch of each of the recipients.   There is much, much more that could be included about these people who have been, and continue to be, great ambassadors of the square and round dance activity.   What does come through loudly and clearly in all instances is their selflessness and their commitment to whatever is good for the betterment of square and round dancing.  Personal gain is never a consideration.  A willingness to help out wherever needed is always present.  They’ve each contributed in countless ways and right alongside their commitment to the square and round dance movement is their dedication to community, church and family.  And it should be emphasized that inherent in all of these awards is the equal recognition of the often invisible, but crucial, support of the “other half”.

1985   Kay Sehl

Square dance caller and round dance leader Kay Sehl was a recipient of one of the first Trillium Awards ever presented.  Founder of SWOSDA in 1959, and the first President (1959-60), she was made Honorary President in 1961.  In 1963, as SWOSDA’s first historian, Kay began the tradition of maintaining a history book in the form of photograph albums with pictures and text.  Predeceased by her husband Harry in 1960, Kay’s interest and involvement never flagged and she continued calling for many years.  Award of Merit presented at Victoria Park Lodge in Kitchener on November 24, 1985.  (Kay died April 7, 1991)

1988   Howard & Evelyn Weir

Howard and Evelyn became involved in square dancing in 1968.  Howard began calling in 1972, became a member, and later chair, of Callers Clinic.  Members of the Galt Swinging Eights, where they also taught basics, Howard and Evelyn founded the Waterloo Alpha Squares in 1983.   They also helped establish a wheelchair square dance club in 1981, the Wheeling Squares, with the assistance of the Kitchener-Waterloo Civitan Club.  It was an idea that evolved after Howard & Evelyn saw an impressive wheelchair square dance demonstration at the 1980 national convention in Ottawa.  The Wheeling Squares was one of a handful of such clubs in Canada and one of only two in Ontario.  Howard and Evelyn devoted much of their time to this club and worked many hours with the members who were able to dance at subsequent national conventions in Winnipeg, Calgary, Hamilton, and Vancouver.   Award of Merit presented at the SWOSDA dance in Woodstock hosted by the Woodstock “Y” Promenaders on April 23, 1988.  (Evelyn died October 22, 2002)

1988   Dene & Roberta McConnell

Involved in the activity since 1957, Dene and Roberta taught round dancing in 1967 for the City of London’s basic square and round dance program.  By 1970 they were leaders of two round dance clubs in London (the Fun-A-Rounds and Basic Rounds), and one in Sarnia.  Beginning in 1972, for a period of ten years, they taught and cued rounds at the Awawego Square Dance Club, St. Thomas.  Also during this time, they were the first round dance cuers for School House Squares, St. Thomas, and were involved with the annual camping weekends at Port Glasgow.  Dene and Roberta were elected to a five-year term on the SWOSDA executive in 1961 and were the fifth president couple in 1963-64.  Roberta also served as SWOSDA Historian for 14 years, from 1968 to 1982.  Due to Roberta’s ill health, they retired from the round dance circle in 1982.  Award of Merit presented at the SWOSDA dance in Woodstock hosted by the Woodstock “Y” Promenaders on April 23, 1988.

1989   Perry & Mary Stuart

Perry had been calling for over 40 years when he and Mary received the Award.  He started to teach during the early 50s and was equally at ease teaching square dancing, round dancing or contras.  He was the first caller for London’s Princess Elizabeth Square Dance Club in 1956 and at the club’s 25th anniversary dance tribute was paid to his versatility, patience and teaching skills.  In the early 60s Perry ran classes for the City of London’s basic square and round dance program.  He was a staunch supporter of SWOSDA from its inception and served as president in 1970-71.  Also a member of Callers Clinic, he assisted in the training of new callers.  Award of Merit presented at SWOSDA’s 30thanniversary dance in Kincardine hosted by the Kincardine Tartan Twirlers on October 28, 1989.  (Mary died in January 1993; Perry a month or two later)

1989   Cec & Hazel Downham

Cec and Hazel started dancing in the mid 50s and were active in two square dance clubs and one round dance club in London: the Circle Four, the Princess Elizabeth, and the Rhythm Rounds.  Cec was a very active member of the SWOSDA executive during its formative years and for a number of years thereafter.  He served as president in 1966-67 before the concept of “couple” positions was introduced.   During his presidential term, he was involved with SWOSDA’s Centennial Project and was instrumental in producing the Centennial Booklet to create interest among dancers and to stimulate interclub visitations during that year.  Following their move to Stratford, Cec & Hazel became members of the Stratford Square Dance Club while maintaining their club memberships in London.  Award of Merit presented at SWOSDA’s 30th anniversary dance in Kincardine hosted by the Kincardine Tartan Twirlers on October 28, 1989.

1990   Eric & Mary Steward

In the mid 50s Eric and Mary helped start the Sarnia High Park Squares Club.  It later joined with the Sarnia Swinging 8s who presented Mary with her 40-year badge in 1996.  As well as holding almost every position on their club’s executive over the years, Eric and Mary were elected to the SWOSDA executive in 1978-79 and were actively involved in various capacities.  They held the position of president in 1980-81 and in 1982 were appointed as SWOSDA’s representatives to the Ontario Federation.  Mary also served as SWOSDA’s Historian from early 1982 until April 2001.  Award of Merit presented at the SWOSDA dance in Windsor hosted by the Windsor Single Squares on October 27, 1990.  (Eric died July 19, 1991)

1992   John & Mary Meijer

John and Mary have been square dancing for over 40 years.  They were active supporters of the Stratford Square Dance Club prior to moving to Kitchener where they joined the Beaux & Belles, Kitchener-Waterloo.  They were first elected to the executive of Beaux & Belles in 1970 and have served in a variety of positions over the years.  Beginning in 1983 John and Mary became very involved with the Kitchener-Waterloo (Civitan) Wheeling Squares, assisting regularly with all of the club’s routine activities, as well as with transporting and storing wheelchairs, sewing most of the dancers’ costumes, and fundraising.  They also accompanied the wheelchair dancers to four national conventions (Winnipeg, Calgary, Hamilton, Vancouver), acted as their “pushers” where necessary, and cared for their special needs.  Award of Merit presented at the Canada Fitweek Kick-Off Dance held at the Victoria Park Pavilion in Kitchener on May 22, 1992.

1993   Charlie & Bea Bodfish

Charlie and Bea began square dancing in 1969.  Charter members of Circle T, they served in all positions on the club’s executive. They also served on the Committee of London Square & Round Dance Clubs, which sponsors the annual Forest City Festival and the New Year’s Eve Dance, and were actively involved in SWOSDA and Ontario Federation work.  Elected for a five-year term on the SWOSDA executive (1982-87), they held the office of president in 1985-86.   They also served a five-year term (1986-91) on the Ontario Federation.   Bea served as Federation secretary for four years (1987-91) and Charlie as Federation treasurer in 1990-91.  They held the position of Federation president for two years (1988-90).    For many years they were instrumental in arranging dancers and callers on a monthly basis to help the patients at Parkwood Convalescent Hospital celebrate their birthdays, as well as ensuring that sufficient dancers and a leader were available to dance every month at the CNIB with the visually impaired.  Award of Merit presented at the SWOSDA dance in London hosted by the Centennial Beavers on February 27, 1993.  (Charlie died March 24, 1998)

1993   Ken & Mary Brennan

Ken and Mary started dancing in the early 70s.   In October 1977 Ken became club caller for the Centennial Beavers, London, in which position he remained for 18 years until his death.  He also called for the Swingin’ Wheels square dance camping club based in London.  Being avid campers, Ken and Mary were also very involved with camporees in Ontario and the U.S.  They were loyal supporters of SWOSDA, and served on the executive for two years.  It was during their presidential year that Ken died.  They were members of Caller Lab and also served in many executive capacities within Callers Clinic.  Ken was active in running leaders’ courses and encouraged new callers to participate in the program at his regular dances. Award of Merit presented at the SWOSDA dance in London hosted by the Centennial Beavers on February 27, 1993.   (Ken died March 17, 1995)

1994   Stan & Ruth Melling

Stan and Ruth attended the City of London’s basic modern square dance class in 1959.  On graduation they joined the Princess Elizabeth Square Dance Club where they remained members until it closed.  In the early 70s they joined two square dance clubs, the Centennial Beavers and Circle T Squares. They also provided leadership in a community square dance program in Lambeth for several years and helped with beginner classes at both the Centennial Beavers and Berkshire Beavers.  In 1987, in appreciation for their active involvement, they were made Honorary Members of the Centennial Beavers where they served as president couple on more than one occasion.  They were elected to the SWOSDA executive for a five-year term in April 1974, serving as presidents for two years (1977-79), and were elected for shorter terms in 1981 and 1985.  Also involved in Callers Clinic, they were made associate members in 1979 and in 1986 Stan was appointed Secretary-Treasurer.  Following Ruth’s death, Stan remained active within his clubs as well as on the SWOSDA executive for several more years.  Award of Merit made posthumously.  (Ruth died September 8, 1987; Stan January 10, 1994)

1994   George & Elma Watson

George and Elma started square dancing in 1963 with the Sarnia Swinging 8s.  In order to practice, George acquired a few records and started calling for a few couples from his recreation room in their Oil Springs home.  Other couples joined them and so was founded the Oil Springs Promenaders Square Dance Club in 1966.  He was also the first caller for the Chatham Hi-Neighbour Club in 1969.   Elma, who designed the original Promenaders banner, cued rounds at both clubs and filled in as a man at their square dances.  George began calling for the Bluewater Rolling Squares camping club in 1973 in Ailsa Craig, and over the years has called for the Port Huron City Recreation Square Dance Club, has taught round and square dancing at the Polystar Recreation Centre in Sarnia, and has called for the Sarnia Swinging 8s for over 20 years.   Award of Merit presented at a special dance, arranged to mark the occasion, at the Youth Centre in Oil Springs, 1994.  (Elma died January 29, 2001)

1995   Harold & Olive Clark

One of the original founders of the Galt Swinging Eights in 1965, Harold called for the club for 36 years at many levels: novice, mainstream and plus as well as A1.  Harold and Olive were great square dance enthusiasts and were involved in many areas of the activity.  Harold was also club caller for the Twin City Squares in Kitchener for 14 years, he called at Easter and Christmas for the Five Oaks Teen Conference for 20 years, he taught square dancing to Grades 5, 6 and 7 at local schools, as well as at outdoor camps for children and adults, and at Wilfrid Laurier University in Kitchener.  Harold has been club caller for the Kitchener Guys & Dolls since 1981-82 and has called for countless celebrations, fundraisers, promotions, campouts as well as for senior groups and conventions in Canada and the USA.  Harold and Olive served on the SWOSDA executive for three years, including a year as president in 1973-74.  Award of Merit presented at the 30th anniversary dance of the Galt Swinging 8s on May 1, 1995.  (Olive died August 16, 2003)

1995   Jim & Lerine Gillespie

Jim and Lerine have been active in square and round dancing for over 30 years.  Jim has cued rounds for more than 25 years and they have been active members of Round-A-Lab.   They have also been involved as members and round dance leaders in several square dance clubs including the Kitchener Beaux & Belles, the Kitchener Guys & Dolls, and Galt Swinging Eights, and in 1980 founded the Kitchener Lads & Lasses Round Dance Club.  They have also taught line dancing several times a week and in 1992 started the Golden Triangle Contras.  They were elected on two occasions to the SWOSDA executive and served as round dance section leaders as well as treasurer, and as president couple in 1986-87 and 1992-93.  They represented SWOSDA on the Ontario Federation serving as treasurer couple for two years (1987-89).  Award of Merit presented at the annual Friendship Circle Dance sponsored by the Beaux & Belles in St. Agatha on March 18, 1995.

1995   Edward & Lois Wise

Lois and Edward started square and round dancing in the 60s.   They were leaders of the Huron Happy Hearts for over 25 years and Lois has been guest cuer at many regional and provincial events.  Strong supporters of SWOSDA, Lois and Edward were elected to the SWOSDA executive on two occasions, in 1981-82 for a five-year term, and in 1983-84 for a three-year term.  They served as round dance leaders and held the office of president in 1984-85 and 1995-96.  They were charter members of the Clinton Wheel ‘n’ Dealers Square Dance Club founded in 1964, and have held all offices on the executive of that club, some several times.  Also involved with square dance camping clubs, Lois and Edward were members of the South Western Ontario Square Dance Camping Association, as well as associate members of the Horseshoe Squares of Woodstock and the Swingin’ Wheels of London.  Award of Merit presented at the SWOSDA dance in Coldstream hosted by the Strathroy Swinging Duos on April 22, 1995.  (Edward died June 18, 2002)

Part 7

SWOSDA: Trillium Award Recipients 1996-2004

1996 Denny & Judi Howlett

Denny and Judi began square dancing with the Swing Billies Club in London in 1962.  In 1963 the club’s caller, Tom Twiddy, encouraged Denny to call and later on to cue.  After moving to Oil Springs, Denny was instrumental in forming the Shiloh Buckles and Bows Square Dance Club in 1966.  It is now an advanced dancing club.  In 1975 Denny began calling for the Baldoon Squares in Wallaceburg and in 1986 he became club caller and cuer for the Circle T Club in London.  Denny and Judi are keen campers and have also been involved with the annual Ontario Camporee in Tillsonburg.  First elected to the SWOSDA executive in April 1970, Denny served as president in 1972-73.  It was during this time that Denny and Judi were instrumental in having SWOSDA executive positions filled by a couple rather than by an individual.  They were also the first representatives from SWOSDA to be appointed to the Ontario Square and Round Dance Federation.  Award of Merit presented on April 27, 1996, at the SWOSDA dance in Sarnia hosted by the Swinging 8s.

1996 Egbert & Mary Jacobs

Dancing since 1960 and attending caller school in 1961, Egbert became club caller for the Seaforth Whirlaways Square Dance Club in 1963 and over the years has called for many other clubs in the area.  In April 1968, in the days before couples participated on the SWOSDA executive, Egbert was elected and served two years as square dance section leader.   Egbert and Mary were later elected for a four-year period when they served as vice-president couple and square dance section leader in 1988-89, president couple for two consecutive years, 1989-90 and 1990-91, and past president couple responsible for publicity and visitations in 1991-92.   Today, Egbert calls for Egbert’s Scramblers, Milverton (22 years), Beaux & Belles, Kitchener (10 years), and Howick Country Squares, Gorrie (32 years). Award of Merit presented on May 24, 1996, in Kitchener at the Canada Fitweek celebrations.

1997 John & Irene Bullock

John and Irene’s interest in square and round dancing began in 1958 when they lived in B.C.  They have since had a long and active association with several square and round dance clubs in the London area.  Avid campers, they are also members of Chapter C112 of the National Square Dance Camping Association.  In 1987 they served as chair couple for the annual Camporee in Tillsonburg and as chair couple for the first National Square Dance Camporee to be held outside the United States.  John and Irene were first elected to the SWOSDA executive in 1984-85 and served as president couple in 1987-88.  They were editors of the Bugle for four years (1995-96 to 1999-00) and in 2000-01 began a three-year term as SWOSDA Treasurer.  They have also represented SWOSDA on the Ontario Federation of which they are a past president couple.  Award of Merit presented on March 22, 1997, at the SWOSDA dance in Norwich, hosted by the Springsteppers Line Dance Club.

1997 Les Greenwood

Les began dancing in 1966 with the Exeter Promenaders and started calling in 1968.   Over the years he has called for many clubs, including the George Anna Squares in Sarnia (from which he recently retired as club caller after 27 years), the Calico Cats (33 years) and the Clinton Wheel ‘n’ Dealers (19 years).  His own clubs have included the Komoka Kloverleafs and the Greenwood Forest City Squares (an advanced dancing club today).  He teaches beginner square dance classes, instructs at caller schools, teaches advanced levels of square dancing and leads line dance groups.  Les has served on the SWOSDA executive, has been president of Callers Clinic three times, and has been involved in the work of the Canadian Western Dance Instructors’ Association and the Canadian Square & Round Dance Society. He has been guest caller at conventions across Canada and the US, as well as at the 1998 Australian Convention in Brisbane.  Les and Shirley were married on May 11, 1999.  Award of Merit presented at the Clinton Wheel ‘n’ Dealers annual Pie Night in Seaforth on June 17, 1998.

1997 George & Evelyn Rayner

George & Evelyn took their square dance basics with Lloyd Buchanan in 1962 and learned to round dance with Fred and Wynne O’Connell.  They were members of the Awawego Club in St. Thomas until it ceased operations.  George began calling in 1971 and in 1972 he and Evelyn started a basic group, which was the beginning of School House Squares of which they were subsequently made honorary members.  They also served on the executive of Calico Cats for several years, and danced with the Byron Round-A-Bouts in London.  George retired from club calling for health reasons in 1984 but continued to call for several years for the “60” program at Beal Tech in London and for the monthly CNIB program.  George and Evelyn were elected to the SWOSDA executive in 1987-88 where they served a year as vice-president with responsibility for halls and refreshment, and were responsible for Bugle correspondence and visitations for two years.  Award of Merit presented on November 8, 1997, in Komoka, at the 25th anniversary dance of School House Squares.

1998 Jean & Stan Carr

Jean and Stan started dancing in 1956.  Jean began calling in 1969 and she and Stan were instrumental in forming and calling for clubs in Owen Sound, Tara, Hepworth and Meaford, as well as organizing an annual square dance camping weekend for many years.  Although not a round dance leader, Jean held classes in the Grey/Bruce area for prospective dancers who were unable to find a place close to home to learn Phase II rounds.  In addition to calling, they danced three times a week from Basic to A2 and attended all Canadian national conventions up to and including Winnipeg in 1992.  Jean retired from active calling in 1994.  Award of Merit presented in April 1998 at the SWOSDA dance in Clinton hosted by the Clinton Wheel ‘n’ Dealers.

2001 Ken & Pat Parrish

Ken and Pat began dancing in 1976 with the Baldoon Squares, Wallaceburg, and later held several positions on the club’s executive, including president couple.  They were also active on the executive of the Bluewater Rolling Squares Camping Club, which they joined in 1979, and later served on the Ontario Camporee committee from 1988 to 1990.  They were actively involved with the Shiloh Buckles & Bows Club in Petrolia, which they joined in 1991, and later served as president couple.  In April 1989 and again in 1996, Ken and Pat were elected to the SWOSDA executive.  They served a 5-year term on each occasion during which time they held nearly every position, including president couple in 1991-92 and 1997-98.  Ken and Pat also represented SWOSDA on the Ontario Federation from January 1993 until December 1997 as directors at large and then as treasurer couple.  Long Service Award presented on December 8, 2001, at 35th Anniversary Dance of the Oil Springs Promenaders, held at the Lambton Central Centennial School.

2001 Bill & Bonnie Taylor

Bill and Bonnie started square dancing in 1982.  Upon graduation they joined Circle T Squares in London and in 1984 they also became members of the Swingin’ Wheels square dance camping club.  Over the years they have held a variety of positions, often more than once, on both executives.  In addition to belonging to several other clubs, they have held various offices on the London Forest City Festival Committee and in 1994 they co-chaired the International Square Dance Camporee in Ancaster.  Bill and Bonnie were elected to the executive of SWOSDA for a five-year term in April 1994 and served in a variety of positions, including president (1996-97).  In March 1997 they were appointed to represent SWOSDA on the Ontario Federation where they served for two terms as president couple; they continue on the Federation as secretary couple for 2003-04.  Award of Merit presented on March 24, 2001, at the SWOSDA dance in Rockwood (Guelph), hosted by Royal City Squares.

2002 Neva & Duncan McVittie

Neva and Duncan began dancing over 30 years ago.  While both are qualified callers, by mutual agreement Neva calls and Duncan looks after the arrangements and assists on the dance floor.  In their early days Neva called four nights a week at clubs in Southampton, Hepworth, Chesley and Kincardine; they are currently caller couple for the Huron Bruce Swingers (Lucknow), the Southampton Lighthouse Squares and the Kincardine Tartan Twirlers.  Over the years Neva and Duncan have taught square dancing to youth at high schools, in 4H clubs and at Junior Farmers.  Award of Merit presented on March 23, 2002, at the SWOSDA dance in Listowel hosted by Egbert’s Scramblers, Milverton.

2003 Peter & Sybil Chandler

Peter and Sybil started square dancing in 1975 with the Huron-Bruce Swingers in Lucknow and currently dance with the Strathroy Swinging Duos.  They began round dancing in 1977 with the Huron Happy Hearts in Clinton and continue to dance with the Rhythm Rounds in London.  They have taught round dancing since 1979, first to the Huron-Bruce Swingers in Lucknow, then in London to the Chandeliers, in Byron to the Round-A-Bouts and presently in Strathroy to the Swinging Duos.  Over the years they have always been actively involved with the square and round dance movement: presidents of the Huron-Bruce Swingers and Huron Happy Hearts; SWOSDA executive members serving as round dance section leaders (1979-81) and later as president couple (1981-82); SWOSDA representatives to the Ontario Federation for two years; chair persons of Callers Clinic; and chair couple for several years of the Committee of London Square and Round Dance Clubs.  Award of Merit presented at the Forest City Festival in London on April 12, 2003.

2003 Bryan & Vaile Henry

Bryan began calling and dancing at the age of 11 while living in Vancouver where he participated in the Pacific Northwest Teen Town Square Dance competitions, winning calling cups in both the junior and senior divisions.  He and Vaile met when they were both members of the same teen square dance club.  A move to Florida in 1963 gave Bryan an opportunity to work with children and teens and he trained a young group in Tallahassee for demonstrations.  During an 18-year hiatus from calling after a move to Winnipeg when business and family took priority, Bryan frequently volunteered his services to call and teach easy square dancing to school classes, church groups, teen conferences and other groups looking for a fun afternoon or evening.  A move to Guelph in 1976 provided the opportunity for Bryan and Vaile to rejoin the activity.   Bryan is currently club caller for the Elora Grand Squares and the Eramosa (Guelph) Chain Reactors.  Award of Merit presented on March 15, 2003, in St. Agatha at the Friendship Circle Dance sponsored by the Beaux and Belles Square Dance Club.

2004 George & Jean Clark

George and Jean have been involved with square and round dancing since the early 70s. They started the Whirlaways Club in 1976-77, and in 1977-78 they became club caller/cuer for two clubs: the Gingham Swing’em and S-X Squares (then a new club).  Also in 1978 they began calling and cueing for the Swinging Canadians, NSDCA Chapter 028, at Aldborough Campground in Port Glasgow.  Over the years they have arranged many benefit dances and demonstrations and for 15 years, from 1980 to 1995, George was very involved in the organization of the annual Rose City Festival sponsored by the Gingham Swing’em Club.  Today, as well as calling and cueing for area clubs when called upon, George and Jean teach and demonstrate line, square and round dancing for seniors at various levels, and Jean teaches line and round dancing in Windsor at the Chatterbox Lines Club which she started in 1994.  Award of Merit presented on March 27, 2004, at the SWOSDA dance in Wallaceburg hosted by the Baldoon Squares.

2004 Lorne & Cecille Lockrey

Lorne & Cecille learned to square dance at the Southampton Lighthouse Squares Club where they later held the position of president.  Lorne learned to call around 1979 and Cecille learned to cue shortly after.  They called and cued in 1980 for their first club in Lion’s Head and since then for clubs in Lucknow, Tara, Hanover and Wiarton.  Currently they are club caller/cuer for the Wiarton Steppers Square Dance Club, and have been since its organization in January 1982, as well as for the Hanover Happy Twirlers since 1987. Over the years they have organized many special events, including the first Southampton Jamboree in 1983, which ran every second year for a number of years.  As well as serving on the SWOSDA executive for two terms as Square Dance Section Leader (1985-86 and 1986-87), Lorne and Cecille organized the Bluewater Square & Round Dance Association for clubs in Bruce County.  Award of Merit presented in Clinton on April 24, 2004, at SWOSDA’s 40th Anniversary Dance hosted by the Clinton Wheel ‘n’ Dealers

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Trillium Long Service Award

1999 Ralph & Doris Adam

Doris has served as SWOSDA secretary since 1965 – when only men attended meetings.  After 38 years in this position, which requires a week of her time each month, Doris has tendered her resignation to take effect at the end of the 2003-04 dance season.   Ralph and Doris began square dancing in 1959 and after a few years also learned to round dance.  They were members of three London clubs: the Princess Elizabeth and Four Square as well as the forerunner of the Rhythm Rounds. They attend all SWOSDA meetings and monthly dances and remain actively involved with the Byron Round-A-Bouts.   Long Service Award presented in Petrolia at SWOSDA’s 40th anniversary dance hosted by the Shiloh Buckles and Bows on April 24, 1999.

1999 Walt & Eunice Warner

Walt maintained the financial records of SWOSDA for over 32 years, having served as treasurer from 1966 to 1998.  Walt and Eunice began square dancing in 1957 and went on to dance at the A1 and A2 levels.  They were members of one of the founding clubs of SWOSDA, the Four Square Club, and also round danced with the forerunner of Rhythm Rounds.   They have since danced with a number of other clubs and have served on the executive committees of those clubs.  Over the years they attended many festivals and conventions, and on two separate occasions Walt served as treasurer for the Committee of London Square & Round Dance Clubs.  Long Service Award presented in Petrolia at SWOSDA’s 40th anniversary dance hosted by the Shiloh Buckles and Bows on April 24, 1999.

2003 Harold & Sylvia Stephens

Harold & Sylvia were founding members of the Beaux & Belles Square Dance Club in Kitchener/Waterloo in 1959 and served in a variety of positions throughout the 60s and 70s – publicity, membership, treasurer and secretary.  In the 80s and 90s, once Harold had retired, they provided continued leadership to the club as vice-president and president couple as well as past presidents.  They are currently club historians and were key organizers of the club’s 40th anniversary.  Over the years they have organized clothing sales, given mini-lessons in their home, and their attic became a treasure trove of decorations and equipment for special events.  They were involved in the “Spring Fantasy Dance” organized in the 70s and 80s which drew over 1200 participants from across North America, and they have participated in many events over the years to promote square dancing.  Long Service Award presented at the Beaux & Belles Square Dance Club in Kitchener on October 17, 2003.

2004 Les & Doris Moore

Les and Doris have been square dancing for 42 years.  They are charter members of the George Anna Squares in Sarnia (formed in 1962) where they served on the executive for many years.  They also danced regularly with the St. Thomas Awawego Club in the 60s.  Today, Les and Doris are also members of the Calico Cats in London; they dance regularly at the Swinging 8s in Sarnia and have camped with the Bluewater Rolling Squares for the past five years.  Les and Doris also round dance.  Great ambassadors for the square and round dance movement, they encourage new dancers, serve as angels for beginners, participate in all club activities, volunteer to dance in demos, and over the years have attended countless conventions, festivals and special dances, as well as most SWOSDA dances.  Long Service Award presented on March 27, 2004, at the SWOSDA dance in Wallaceburg hosted by the Baldoon Squares.

SWOSDA: MEMBER CLUBS 1959-2004

Since its formation in 1959, SWOSDA has seen a steady increase in the number of member clubs.  The makeup of this membership, however, has seen some drastic changes.  Some clubs affiliated for just a single season while others have been long-term members.  SWOSDA boasts a total of 45 member clubs (bold print) as it enters its 45th year.  Where records are available to the historians, included below is the date each club was established and its first caller/leader/instructor.

Aylmer Luton Squares (1994 –2001: Tom Charlton)

Brantford Dancing Diamonds (Johnny Davidson; Jim & Lerine Gillespie)

Brantford Square-A-Naders (1950: Ron Thornton)

Brantford Village Squares (1976: Kenneth Battram); prior to 1992 known as Scotland Village Squares

Brucefield Twirlers (1999: Mike Warner); summer club

Cambridge Carousels (1967: John & Peggy Wilson)

Centralia RCAF Pairs & Squares (1963: Ernie Dempster)

Chatham Hi-Neighbour (1963-2002: Eldon Kemble)

Chatham Town & Country Squares (pre-1965: Frank Burgess)

Chesley Charmers (Neva McVittie)

Collingwood Blue Mountain Promenaders (1961: Lorne Hay)

Collingwood Ski Town Squares (1960s: Lorne Hay)

Clinton RCAF Crosstrailers (1960s: Earl Bowles)

Clinton Huron Happy Hearts (1975: Lois & Edward Wise)

Clinton Round L’s (Earl Bowles)

Clinton Wheel ‘n’ Dealers (1964: Earl Bowles)

Conestogo Diamond Squares, St. Jacobs (2000: Marie Fretz)

Elora Grand Squares (1974)

Eramosa (Guelph) Chain Reactors (2003: Bryan Henry)

Essex S-X Squares (1977: George Clark)

Exeter Promenaders (1962: Earl Bowles)

Flesherton Denim ‘n’ Lace (1992: Jim Lee)

Galt Swinging Eights (1965: Harold Clark)

Goderich Social Squares (pre-1965: El Haveling)

Guelph Merri-Eights

Guelph Merri-Go-Rounds (Johnny Davidson)

Guelph Royal City Squares (1962: Norm Wilcox)

Guelph Shadow Vine Rounds (Sylvia Liles)

Hamilton Happy Hoedowners (Johnny Davidson)

Hamilton Jolly Mixers (pre-1963: Johnny Davidson)

Hamilton Wood Bees Round Dance Club

Hanover Happy Twirlers (1960: Johnny Davidson)

Hepworth Grey-Bruce Dancers (Neva McVittie)

Howick Country Squares, Gorrie (1972: Egbert Jacobs)

Huron-Bruce Swingers, Lucknow (1969: Egbert Jacobs)

Ingersoll Cheesetown Stompers (1970: John Lenart)

Kent Klodhoppers, Charing Cross (1974: Jim Wood)

Kent Round Dancers, Tilbury (Maria Harrison)

Kincardine Blue Water Squares (1960: Eve & Ron Keddy); forerunner of the Tartan Twirlers

Kincardine Sunset Rounds (Dan & Rhetha Roy)

Kincardine Tartan Twirlers (1975: Egbert Jacobs)

Kitchener Beaux & Belles (1959: Johnny Davidson)

Kitchener Dance-A-Round (1960s: Cecilia & Gerry Lavigne)

Kitchener Golden Triangle Contras (Jim & Lerine Gillespie)

Kitchener Guys & Dolls (1976: Ruth Dunn)

Kitchener K-W Squarenaders

Kitchener Lads & Lasses (1980: Jim & Lerine Gillespie)

Kitchener Swing & Whirl  (1953-1998: Norm Wilcox)

Kitchener Whirlaways (pre-1959: Gerry Lavigne)

Komoka Kloverleafs (1980: Les Greenwood)

Leamington Merry Mixers (Gerry Payne)

Lion’s Head Peninsular Promenaders (Lorne Lockrey)

London Berkshire Beavers (1996: Bob Miller)

London Byron Round-A-Bouts (1976: Hilda & Les Hibbert)

London Byron Swinging Squares (1959: Perry Stuart)

London Calico Cats (1963: Ernie Holland)

London Carousel No.127 Round Dance Club (1980: Alf & Betty Johnson (beginners); Bill & Irene  Morrison (intermediate); Hal & Eileen Lobb (advanced)

London Centennial Beavers (1967: Cliff Beaver)

London Chandeliers (Peter and Sybil Chandler)

London Circle 4 (1954: Perry Stuart)

London Circle-N-Star (1962: Ron Thornton)

London Circle T Squares (1969: Alex & Joan Piggott)

London Crazy 8s (John Gray)

London Diamond Squares (1992: Currie Burchill)

London Forest City Squares (1972: Roy Hull); amalgamation of Trafalgar Squares (1969) & Berkshire Beavers

London Four Square (1949: tapes and records, visiting callers, 1965: Stu Robertston)

London Friday Night Falling Stars (2000: Ed Dolson & Mike Warner)

London Greenwood Forest City Squares (1985: Les Greenwood)

London Happy Hoppers (1975: John Gray)

London Ja-Make-A-Square

London Princess Elizabeth (1956: Perry Stuart)

London Rhythm Rounds (1961: Fred & Wynne O’Connell)

London School House Squares (1972: George Rayner)

London Skirts & Flirts

London Squared-Ates

London Squarenaders (pre-1965: Earl Campbell)

London Squaws & Paws (1968: Cliff Beaver)

London Swing Billies (Tom Twiddy)

London Trafalgar Squares (1969: Roy Hull)

London Whirl O’Eights (1962: Lloyd Buchanan)

Milverton Egbert’s Scramblers (1982: Egbert Jacobs)

Milverton Pairs & Squares (1982 Egbert Jacobs) changed name in 1985 to Egbert’s Scramblers (Milverton)

New Hamburg Nith Valley Squares (Egbert Jacobs)

Norwich Springsteppers Line Dance Club (1993: Rita Buckrell)

Oil Springs Promenaders (1966: George Watson)

Ontario Rhythm Cloggers, London and Kitchener-Waterloo Branch (1978: Dorothy & Jack McCulloch)

Owen Sound Rounds (Sylvia & Norm Liles)

Owen Sound Scenic City Squares

Owen Sound Sound Steppers (1988: Jean Carr)

Palmerston Norwell Twirlers (1954: Elmer Haveling)

Parkhill Ausable Flairs & Squares (1968: Jack Fairfield

Petrolia Shiloh Buckles & Bows (1966: Denny Howlett)

Port Elgin Town & Country Swingers (1961: Wanda Wild); forerunner of Southampton Lighthouse Squares

Princeton Circle 8 (late 50s)

Sarnia George-Anna Squares (1962: Tiny Henderson)

Sarnia Merry-Go-Rounds (1981: Kitty & Ed Giles)

Sarnia Swinging 8s (1956: Hugh Kilbreath)

Scotland Village Squares (1976: Ken Battram); forerunner of Brantford Village Sauares

Seaforth Huron Scalpers (1964: Art Sheppard)

Seaforth Whirl-Aways (pre-1963: Art Sheppard)

Simcoe Star-A-Naders (1966: Bruce Payne)

Southampton Lighthouse Squares (1964: Bill Cranny)

Stratford Square Dance Club (1945-1971: early years records/tapes; El Haveling)

Strathroy Millenium Promenaders (2000: Mike Warner)

Strathroy Swinging Duos (1991: Peter Hales)

St. Mary’s Stonetown Steppers (1952: records/tapes; 1962: Lawrence Mitchell)

St. Thomas Awawego, (1959-1987: Bill Blaney)

St. Thomas Awaywego, (1992: Bob Miller)

St. Thomas Hoedowners (1971: Stan Down)

Tara Tappers  (1969: Jean Carr)

Trafalgar Squares (1969-1972: Roy Hull) see London Forest City Squares

Wallaceburg Baldoon Mystery Squares (1972: Doug McLean); forerunner of Wallaceburg Baldoon Squares

Wallaceburg Baldoon Squares (1975: Denny Howlett)

Waterloo Alpha Squares (1983: Howard Weir)

Waterloo Civitan Wheeling Squares (1981: Howard Weir)

Wheatley Grand Squares (1964: Mack McDonald)

Wiarton Steppers (1982: Lorne Lockery)

Windsor Chatterbox Lines & Rounds (1994: Jean Clark)

Windsor Gingham Swing’em (1968: George Clark)

Windsor Promenaders (George Layman)

Windsor Single Squares (1987: Dave Alway)

Windsor Strutters (1969: Don Healy)

Winona Buds & Blossoms (1960s: Ken McCormack)

Woodstock Thames Valley Squares (1997: Ed Dolson)

Woodstock “Y” Promenaders (1956-1992: Ron Thornton)

 

National Square Dance Camping Association Clubs:

Bluewater Rolling Squares

Horseshoe Squares ‘n’ Wheels C-112, Waterloo (1979)

Swing’n Wheels C-046, Forest (1971) 

 

The Original Eight

Following are the eight clubs that were represented at the preliminary meeting hosted by Kay Sehl in Kitchener on May 5, 1959, when the delegates voted in favour of forming an Association in south western Ontario:

Kitchener Swing & Whirl

Kitchener Couples ‘n’ Squares

Preston Twirling Squares

Woodstock “Y” Promenaders

London Four Square Club

St. Thomas Awawego Club

Stratford Square Dance Club

Kitchener YMCA Club

 

SWOSDA: CELEBRATING 45 YEARS

On April 24, 2004, a special dance will be held in Clinton to mark SWOSDA’s 45th anniversary.  There is much for SWOSDA to celebrate……friendships made, the helping hands of its volunteers, the commitment of its callers and cuers, the support of its clubs and their dancers, the fellowship of belonging – all of which have contributed to SWOSDA’s longevity and success.

And Some Thought It Might Not Last?

In the September 1978 issue of the Bugle there was a comment that “SWOSDA is unique because it is the only dancer run organization in the world that has lasted past its initial few years of existence”.   That claim still holds true as SWOSDA now heads towards the half-century mark!

“So Harry & Kay dreamed a dream…………”

These words appear in the reflections of Historians Dene & Roberta McConnell on SWOSDA’s 20th anniversary in 1979 as they recounted how SWOSDA was founded by Harry & Kay Sehl, and recalled its achievements:

  • It has added to the experience of many callers and aided in promoting them.
  • It has provided callers for areas lacking in leadership personnel.
  • It has given to many dancers their first thrill of a big affair.
  • It created and supports Callers’ Clinic, which in turn has helped to keep the South Western area coordinated and knowledgeable.

The McConnell’s account concludes: “And as Harry & Kay Sehl did – let us dream a big dream.  Let us keep our sights on the purpose.  Let us go on achieving and succeeding.”

The Dream Continues Today

SWOSDA’s 45th anniversary dance will mark the end of a very successful year.

  • Many clubs reported beginner groups at the start of the 2003-04 dance season.
  • During the summer of 2003 the SWOSDA executive, together with some former members, investigated the possibility of hosting a future Canadian national convention.  An excellent location was found in London, with all facilities centrally located.  Because of the enormity of the project, SWOSDA sought and received the support and commitment of its member clubs and their dancers.
  • At the November 2003 SWOSDA Dance, over 100 dancers and leaders stayed for the General Meeting when two important resolutions were supported:
    • To submit an official bid to the Canadian Society for SWOSDA to host the 2008 Canadian National Convention in London, Ontario, and
    • To apply for SWOSDA to become incorporated.
  • Subsequently, on February 11, 2004, SWOSDA was granted Letters Patent.  It is now a registered not-for-profit Ontario corporation, legally known as Square and Round Dancers of South Western Ontario Inc.  For everyday purposes, it will likely continue to be known as SWOSDA.
  • In February 2004 the Ontario Square and Round Dance Federation notified the Canadian Society of its support for SWOSDA’s bid to house the National Convention in 2008.
  • At the end of March 2004, the Canadian Society approved SWOSDA’s bid to hold the 2008 National convention at the Convention Centre in London, Ontario, on July 17-19, 2008.

·         Two new member clubs were welcomed to SWOSDA during 2003-04:

    • The Chain Reactors in Eramosa (Guelph), with caller Bryan (and Vaile) Henry
    • The Horseshoe Squares and Wheels NSDCA, Chapter 112, who camp and dance at Green Acre Park in Waterloo.
  • At the Joint T&D/SWOSDA Dance in November 2003, there were 29½ squares of dancers.
  • The three annual Frosh dances sponsored by Callers’ Clinic continue to be well supported.
  • The 2003-04 season saw an increase in the number of SWOSDA member clubs involved in sponsoring square dances to raise funds for charity.  There was an incredible outpouring of support for these events at which the callers and cuers donate their time.
    • In May 2003 the Simcoe Star-A-Naders sponsored their first annual Trillium Dance, a fundraiser for Camp Trillium – Rainbow Lake, a Childhood Cancer Support Centre, which offers and promotes recreational experiences to bring children with cancer and their families together.
    • In the January 2004 issue of the Bugle, a letter of thanks was printed from Mayor Gerald Hurley of the Town of Badger, Newfoundland, for the generosity shown by dancers at the Square Dance in Cambridge held to raise funds for the victims of the disastrous weather conditions that engulfed Badger.
    • In November 2003, the Brantford Village Squares Club hosted its second annual Dance for Dreams, a fundraiser for Sunshine Dreams for Kids which fulfills dreams for children who are challenged by severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses.
    • The 15th annual Square Dance for Heart fundraiser for the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario was held in Cambridge, once again sponsored by the Beaux & Belles (Kitchener), the Brantford Village Squares, the Clinton Wheel ‘n’ Dealers, the Conestogo Diamond Squares, Egbert’s Scramblers (Milverton), Elora Grand Squares, Galt Swinging Eights, Guys ‘n’ Dolls (Kitchener), Huron Happy Hearts (Clinton) and Royal City Squares (Guelph).
    • The Sound Steppers of Owen Sound also organized a Square Dance for Heart fundraiser (co-sponsored with PPG Canada Inc.), an event that has been held annually for a number of years.

·         And last, but by no means least, was the great news that three well-deserving couples from the SWOSDA family had been selected to receive the prestigious Ontario Trillium Award in 2004.  The Trillium Award of Merit was presented to George & Jean Clark in March and to Lorne & Cecille Lockrey in April.  The Trillium Long Service Award was presented to Les & Doris Moore in March.

SWOSDA Presidents Through The Years

1959-60           Kay (Harry) Sehl

1960-61            Earl (Lillian) Campbell

1961-62            Ron (Marie) Thornton

1962-63           El (Ruth) Haveling

1963-64           Dene (Roberta) McConnell

1964-65                      Bill (Elaine) Blaney

1965-66                      Fred (Wynne) O’Connell

1966-67                      Cec (Hazel) Downham

1967-68                      Morley (Dorothy) Torgerson

1968-69                      Floyd (Helen) Stewart

1969-70                      Lloyd (Florence) Clayton

1970-71                       Perry (Mary) Stuart

1971-72                       John & Peggy Wilson

1972-73           Denny & Judy Howlett

1973-74                      Harold & Olive Clark

1974-75                      Gerry & Cecilia Lavigne

1975-76                      Staff & Audrey Bidewell

1976-77           Doug & Zillah Thibideau

1977-78                      Stan & Ruth Melling

1978-79                      Stan & Ruth Melling

1979-80                      Harvey & Evelyn Button

1980-81                       Eric & Mary Steward

1981-82                       Peter & Sybil Chandler

1982-83                      Ed & Jean Christian

1983-84                      Ed & Kitty Giles

1984-85                      Edward & Lois Wise

1985-86                      Charlie & Bea Bodfish

1986-87                      Jim & Lerine Gillespie

1987-88                      John & Irene Bullock

1988-89                      Bob & Marilyn Bonnell

1989-90                      Egbert & Mary Jacobs

1990-91                       Egbert & Mary Jacobs

1991-92                       Ken & Pat Parrish

1992-93                      Jim & Lerine Gillespie

1993-94                      Les & Rita Buckrell

1994-95                      Ken & Mary Brennan

1995-96                      Edward & Lois Wise

1996-97                      Bill & Bonnie Taylor

1997-98                      Ken & Pat Parrish

1998-99                      Peter & Bev Piazza

1999-00           Dan & Rhetha Roy

2000-01                      Dan & Rhetha Roy

2001-02                      Charlie & Betty McClure

2002-03                     Ed & Nancy Dolson

2003-04                     Keith & Dorothy Wilton

(Couple positions were introduced in 1971-72)

Memorable Anniversary Dances, Host Clubs and Callers

1969:  10th   –           hosted by the Swinging 8s and George-Anna Squares, Sarnia, arranged and conducted by SWOSDA’s ten past presidents

1974:  15th    –  hosted by the Awawego Club, St. Thomas; host caller Roy Hull

1979:  20th    –  hosted by the Awawego Club, St. Thomas; host caller Bill Blaney

1984:  25th     –  hosted by the ‘Y’ Promenaders, Woodstock; Ken Brennan, Program Chair

1989:  30th     –  hosted by the Tartan Twirlers, Kincardine; host caller Neva McVittie

1994:  35th     –  hosted by the Galt Swinging 8s; host caller Harold Clark

1999:  40th   –   hosted by the Shiloh Buckles & Bows; host caller Denny Howlett

2004:  45th    –  hosted by the Wheel ‘n’ Dealers, Clinton; host caller Les Greenwood

The Closing of Another Dance Season

As the 2003-04 dance season comes to a close with SWOSDA’s special 45th Anniversary Dance on April 24, the words of President Couple Keith & Dorothy Wilton (Bugle, January 2004) embody the very heart of SWOSDA:

“The monthly SWOSDA dances provide an opportunity to meet and get to know dancers from throughout South Western Ontario.  It makes you feel good to look across the floor and see someone you met at a previous dance now sending you a smile and welcoming you into their square.  These dances give us a chance to dance to a variety of leaders and become more comfortable with our dancing abilities.  The callers and cuers select their best music and dance moves to ensure that we all have a good time.  Please show your support with your attendance.  A full dance floor creates the greatest fun for both dancers and leaders.”

 

 

 Part 8

SWOSDA: Celebrating 45 Years

On April 24, 2004, a special dance will be held to mark SWOSDA’s 45th anniversary.  There is much for SWOSDA to celebrate……friendships made, the helping hands of its volunteers, the commitment of its callers and cuers, the support of its clubs and their dancers, the fellowship of belonging – all of which have contributed to SWOSDA’s longevity and success.

And Some Thought It Might Not Last?

In the September 1978 issue of the Bugle there was a comment that “SWOSDA is unique because it is the only dancer run organization in the world that has lasted past its initial few years of existence”.   That claim still holds true as SWOSDA now heads towards the half-century mark!

“So Harry & Kay dreamed a dream…………”

These words appear in the reflections of Historians Dene & Roberta McConnell on SWOSDA’s 20th anniversary in 1979 as they recounted how SWOSDA was founded by Harry & Kay Sehl, and recalled its achievements:

  • It has added to the experience of many callers and aided in promoting them.
  • It has provided callers for areas lacking in leadership personnel.
  • It has given to many dancers their first thrill of a big affair.
  • It created and supports Callers Clinic, which in turn has helped to keep the South Western area    coordinated and knowledgeable.

The McConnell’s’ account concludes: “And as Harry & Kay Sehl did – let us dream a big dream.  Let us keep our sights on the purpose.  Let us go on achieving and succeeding.”

The Dream Continues Today

SWOSDA’s 45th anniversary dance will mark the end of a very successful year.

  • Many clubs reported beginner groups at the start of the 2003-04 dance season.
  • During the summer of 2003 the SWOSDA executive, together with some former members, investigated the possibility of hosting a future Canadian national convention.  An excellent location was found in London, with all facilities centrally located.  Because of the enormity of the project, SWOSDA sought and received the support and commitment of its member clubs and their dancers.
  • At the November 2003 SWOSDA Dance, over 100 dancers and leaders stayed for the General Meeting when two important resolutions were supported:
    • To submit an official bid to the Canadian Society for SWOSDA to host the 2008 Canadian National Convention in London, Ontario, and
    • To apply for SWOSDA to become incorporated.  Subsequently, on February 11, 2004, SWOSDA was granted Letters Patent.  It is now a registered not-for-profit Ontario corporation, legally known as Square and Round Dancers of South Western Ontario Inc.  For everyday purposes, it will continue to be known as SWOSDA.
  • At the Joint T&D/SWOSDA Dance in November 2003, there were 29½ squares of dancers.
  • Two new members clubs were welcomed to SWOSDA during 2003-04:
    • The Chain Reactors in Eramosa (Guelph), with caller Bryan (and Vaile) Henry
    • The Horseshoe Squares and Wheels NSDCA, Chapter 112, who camp and dance at Green Acre Park in Waterloo.
  • The three annual Frosh dances sponsored by Callers Clinic continue to be well supported.
  • The 2003-04 season saw an increase in the number of SWOSDA member clubs involved in sponsoring square dances to raise funds for charity.  There was an incredible outpouring of support for these events at which the callers and cuers donate their time.
    • In May 2003 the Simcoe Star-A-Naders sponsored their first annual Trillium Dance, a fundraiser for Camp Trillium – Rainbow Lake, a Childhood Cancer Support Centre, which offers and promotes recreational experiences to bring children with cancer and their families together.
    • In the January 2004 issue of the Bugle, a letter of thanks was printed from Mayor Gerald Hurley of the Town of Badger, Newfoundland, for the generosity shown by dancers at the Square Dance in Cambridge held to raise funds for the victims of the disastrous weather conditions that engulfed Badger.
    • In November 2003, the Brantford Village Squares hosted its second annual Dance for Dreams, a fundraiser for Sunshine Dreams for Kids which fulfills dreams for children who are challenged by severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses.
    • The 15th annual Square Dance for Heart fundraiser for the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario was held in Cambridge, once again sponsored by the Beaux & Belles (Kitchener), the Brantford Village Squares, the Clinton Wheel ‘n’ Dealers, the Conestogo Diamond Squares, Egbert’s Scramblers (Milverton), Elora Grand Squares, Galt Swinging Eights, Guys ‘n’ Dolls (Kitchener), Huron Happy Hearts (Clinton) and Royal City Squares (Guelph).
    • The Sound Steppers of Owen Sound also organized a Square Dance for Heart fundraiser (co-sponsored with PPG Canada Inc.), an event that has been held annually for a number of years.
  • And last, but by no means least, was the great news that three well-deserving couples from the SWOSDA family had been selected to receive the prestigious Ontario Trillium Award in 2004.

 

Trillium Award of Merit

2004   Lorne & Cecille Lockrey

Lorne & Cecille learned to square dance at the Southampton Lighthouse Squares Club where they later held the position of president.  Lorne learned to call around 1979 and Cecille learned to cue shortly after.  They called and cued in 1980 for their first club in Lion’s Head and since then for clubs in Lucknow, Tara, Hanover and Wiarton.  Currently they are club caller/cuer for the Wiarton Steppers Square Dance Club, and have been since its organization in January 1982, as well as for the Hanover Happy Twirlers since 1987. Over the years they have organized many special events, including the first Southampton Jamboree in 1983, which ran every second year for a number of years.  As well as serving on the SWOSDA executive for two terms as Square Dance Section Leader (1985-86 and 1986-87), Lorne and Cecille organized the Bluewater Square & Round Dance Association for clubs in Bruce County.  Award of Merit to be presented in Clinton on April 24, 2004, at SWOSDA’s 40th Anniversary Dance hosted by the Clinton Wheel ‘n’ Dealers.

2004  George & Jean Clark

George and Jean have been involved with square and round dancing since the early 70s. They started the Whirlaways Club in 1976-77, and in 1977-78 they became club caller/cuer for two clubs: the Gingham Swing’em and S-X Squares (then a new club).  Also in 1978 they began calling and cueing for the Swinging Canadians, NSDCA Chapter 028, at Aldborough Campground in Port Glasgow.  Over the years they have arranged many benefit dances and demonstrations and for 15 years, from 1980 to 1995, George was very involved in the organization of the annual Rose City Festival sponsored by the Gingham Swing’em Club.  Today, as well as calling and cueing for area clubs when called upon, George and Jean teach and demonstrate line, square and round dancing for seniors at various levels, and Jean teaches line and round dancing in Windsor at the Chatterbox Lines Club which she started in 1994.  Award of Merit presented on March 27, 2004, at the SWOSDA dance in Wallaceburg hosted by the Baldoon Squares.

 

Trillium Long Service Award

2004  Les & Doris Moore

Les and Doris have been square dancing for 42 years.  They are charter members of the George Anna Squares in Sarnia (formed in 1962) where they served on the executive for many years.  They also danced regularly with the St. Thomas Awawego Club in the 60s.  Today, Les and Doris are also members of the Calico Cats in London; they dance regularly at the Swinging 8s in Sarnia and have camped with the Bluewater Rolling Squares for the past five years.  Les and Doris also round dance.  Great ambassadors for the square and round dance movement, they encourage new dancers, serve as angels for beginners, participate in all club activities, volunteer to dance in demos, and over the years have attended countless conventions, festivals and special dances, as well as most SWOSDA dances.  Long Service Award presented on March 27, 2004, at the SWOSDA dance in Wallaceburg hosted by the Baldoon Squares.

SWOSDA Presidents Through The Years

1959-60  Kay (Harry) Sehl

1960-61   Earl (Lillian) Campbell

1961-62   Ron (Marie) Thornton

1962-63   El (Ruth) Haveling

1963-64   Dene (Roberta) McConnell

1964-65    Bill (Elaine) Blaney

1965-66   Fred (Wynne) O’Connell

1966-67   Cec (Hazel) Downham

1967-68   Morley (Dorothy) Torgerson

1968-69   Floyd (Helen) Stewart

1969-70   Lloyd (Florence) Clayton

1970-71   Perry (Mary) Stuart

1971-72   John & Peggy Wilson

1972-73   Denny & Judy Howlett

1973-74   Harold & Olive Clark

1974-75   Gerry & Cecilia Lavigne

1975-76   Staff & Audrey Bidewell

1976-77   Doug & Zillah Thibideau

1977-78    Stan & Ruth Melling

1978-79   Stan & Ruth Melling

1979-80   Harvey & Evelyn Button

1980-81   Eric & Mary Steward

1981-82   Peter & Sybil Chandler

1982-83   Ed & Jean Christian

1983-84   Ed & Kitty Giles

1984-85   Edward & Lois Wise

1985-86   Charlie & Bea Bodfish

1986-87   Jim & Lerine Gillespie

1987-88   John & Irene Bullock

1988-89   Bob & Marilyn Bonnell

1989-90   Egbert & Mary Jacobs

1990-91   Egbert & Mary Jacobs

1991-92   Ken & Pat Parrish

1992-93   Jim & Lerine Gillespie

1993-94   Les & Rita Buckrell

1994-95   Ken & Mary Brennan

1995-96    Edward & Lois Wise

1996-97   Bill & Bonnie Taylor

1997-98   Ken & Pat Parrish

1998-99   Peter & Bev Piazza

1999-00   Dan & Rhetha Roy

2000-01   Dan & Rhetha Roy

2001-02   Charlie & Betty McClure

2002-03   Ed & Nancy Dolson

2003-04   Keith & Dorothy Wilton

 

(Couple positions were introduced in 1971-72)

Memorable Anniversary Dances, Host Clubs and Callers

1969:  10th  – held in Sarnia, hosted by SWOSDA’s ten past presidents
1974:  15th  – hosted by the Awawego Club, St. Thomas; host caller Roy Hull
1979:  20th – hosted by the Awawego Club, St. Thomas; host caller Bill Blaney
1984:  25th – hosted by the ‘Y’ Promenaders, Woodstock; Ken Brennan, Program Chair
1989:  30th – hosted by the Tartan Twirlers, Kincardine; host caller Neva McVittie
1994:  35th – hosted by the Galt Swinging 8s; host caller Harold Clark
1999:  40th – hosted by the Shiloh Buckles & Bows; host caller Denny Howlett
2004:  45th – hosted by the Wheel ‘n’ Dealers, Clinton; host caller Les Greenwood

The Closing of Another Dance Season

As the 2003-04 dance season comes to a close with SWOSDA’s special 45th Anniversary Dance, the words of President Couple Keith & Dorothy Wilton (Bugle, January 2004) embody the very heart of SWOSDA:

“The monthly SWOSDA dances provide an opportunity to meet and get to know dancers from throughout South Western Ontario.  It makes you feel good to look across the floor and see someone you met at a previous dance now sending you a smile and welcoming you into their square.  These dances give us a chance to dance to a variety of leaders and become more comfortable with our dancing abilities.  The callers and cuers select their best music and dance moves to ensure that we all have a good time.  Please show your support with your attendance.  A full dance floor creates the greatest fun for both dancers and leaders.”

 

Let’s All Keep That Dream Alive
. . . . and cherish the legacy that has been passed down to those of us who continue to benefit from the enthusiastic and tireless efforts of our founders and their unwavering commitment to the square and round dance movement.

Gremlins:

Part 7 (March 2004 Bugle) – The last section should have read: The Original Eight: Kitchener Swing & Whirl; Kitchener Couples ‘n’ Squares; Preston Twirling Squares; Woodstock “Y” Promenaders; London Four Square Club; St. Thomas Awawego Club; Stratford Square Dance Club; Kitchener YMCA Club (forerunner of the Beaux & Belles).


Changes:

Part 7 (March 2004 Bugle) – Member Clubs
*Centralia RCAF Pairs & Squares – this club was NOT a forerunner of Egbert’s Scramblers
*Milverton Pairs & Squares (1982: Egbert Jacobs); name changed in 1985 to Egbert’s Scramblers
*Stratford Square Dance Club – El Haveling was the first caller (prior to 1962)
*Port Elgin Town & Country Swingers – formed in 1961; Wanda Wild was the first caller
*Southampton Lighthouse Squares – formed in 1964; Bill Cranny called until 1986