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The Past


by Gene Campbell

An excerpt from the book
“Magnolia – The First Hundred Years”

After the Magnolia School was opened in 1911, as the only public building it also served as a community  center.  However, after the war, there was a desire and need for a dedicated community hall.  In a remarkable example of civic leadership for such a small hamlet, the Magnolia Hall Society was organized under the auspices of the Society Act of the Alberta Government.  The Society Act provided a framework in which bylaws and a constitution were accepted.  Duties were spelled out, and board members nominated and elected.  Shares were issued and sold to raise funds.

The hall was a wooden structure, built on a knoll, south and slightly west of the store.  Originally it was a single room structure.  During construction, Adeline Fowler recalls that a dance was held with only the floor in place, with light supplied by lanterns suspended along the perimeter.

An addition was built, probably in 1931.  Ivan Brown recalls helping, or as he says, “getting in the way”.  Making use of the hillside to the south end, a kitchen and stage were added.  The kitchen was accessible by a ground level door on the east side.  There was a dumb waiter that allowed prepared food to be raised to the hall floor.

Above the kitchen was a stage.  On the northeast was the entrance with cloak racks.  On the northwest, accessible from inside, was a woman’s bathroom, and cloak room.  Heating was by a pot-bellied wood stove just inside the north entrance, and by a wood fired cook stove in the kitchen.  North of the hall was a small shed that housed a 32-volt generator that provided lights for the hall.

The designers of the stage, Earl Dawson, Frank Entwistle, Roy Brown and Mr. McArthur must have had some knowledge of the theater.  The stage was raised about 36 inches above the dance floor, for good audience viewing (and to accept the food).  The back of the stage was completed with an attractive permanent varnished wooden screen.  This screen had three narrow doors for the actors to exit or enter, which allowed a smooth transition between acts.  The front of the stage had small walls for the prompter to stand behind, hidden from the audience.  A curtain was installed to close off the stage at the conclusion of an act.  On the east side, a set of stairs provided access from the dance floor to the stage and down into the kitchen.”