Cumberland OAP president Evelyn Bowers, treasurer Bev Berkely and vice-president Lilian Tossof speak during the final meeting. Photo by Janet Noble

Cumberland OAP president Evelyn Bowers, treasurer Bev Berkely and vice-president Lilian Tossof speak during the final meeting. Photo by Janet Noble

Cumberland Old Age Pensioners Association Branch 51 dissolves

The Cumberland Old Age Pensioners Association Branch 51 has dissolved.

The Cumberland Old Age Pensioners Association Branch 51 started in 1954 to advocate for seniors’ pensions and benefits and to provide social activities.

The first meetings and fundraisers were held in homes and then for several years in various halls including the Anglican church hall, the Cumberland Rec Centre, the Masonic Hall, the fire hall and finally the CCF Hall (formerly the Methodist church at 2nd Street and Penrith Avenue) until it was torn down.

In 1975 they moved into the old schoolhouse, which had been used as the police office and jail, and is now the Cumberland village council chambers. They were there until 1993 when the Cumberland Cultural Centre was built and they leased the lower floor.

In 2008, the OAP named their hall Buchanan Hall after long-time members and activists Win and John Buchanan. Meetings were monthly and committees included fundraising, hall maintenance, kitchen use, entertainment, and buying cards/visiting sick members. Delegates were appointed to other groups such as the heritage committee and ad-hoc committees were formed to plan and carry out events. Members attended regional and provincial meetings, conferences and events.

Whist drives and bingo were favourite fundraisers. Cribbage, carpet bowling, crafts, and painting were also popular. A kiln was installed in the 1990s and members made ceramic coal scuttles to sell at the museum. Fundraisers included tag days and raffles, a “Vanishing Tea” and bake sales. In 1967 a cookbook was produced and sold. Spring teas and fall bazaars were annual events.

The OAP also supported the community by making donations to the Cumberland Health Centre Bus Fund, the Cumberland Museum, the Child Development Centre and the Cumberland Community School lunch program. Hall rental for the Girl Guides and Boys and Girls Club was forgiven or reduced. Donations to the Empire Day Committee (now Cumberland Events Society) started with six pounds of butter but eventually became monetary only.

Over the years member numbers declined and when the COVID epidemic shut down all activities the few remaining decided to dissolve the organization. On Sept. 18, a farewell tea was held in Buchanan Hall. For 68 years the Cumberland Lamplighters Society Old Age Pensioners Organization (OAP) Branch 51 supported the community and provided advocacy and social activities for Cumberland’s seniors. Thank you for your service.

Cumberland

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