1987 – 1996
The Maidstone Recreation Centre was established to fill the need for a small community centre near the Town of Maidstone. The Town of Maidstone is located on the fringe of the Township of Tecumseh far from the main urban centre. This rural farming community lacked a facility that offered social and recreational opportunities for all members of the community. The main facilities in the town were St. Mary’s Catholic Church and School, the Parish Hall, and the neighbouring park and baseball diamonds.
The roots of the Maidstone Recreation Centre began in the Knights of Columbus Council #9226, a fraternal organization of catholic men serving St. Mary’s Parish and raising money for local charities. For many years, the Council held its meetings and events in the Parish Hall or at local facilities such as KOA campgrounds. There was a desire within the Council to have its own property and facilities to hold its events and to offer additional baseball diamonds to complement those at St. Mary’s Park. In 1987, a committee named the Maidstone Columbus Club was formed to guide fundraising efforts with the purpose of locating and purchasing property for this initiative. Through countless volunteer hours and years of working fundraising events such as the International Plowing Match, euchre tournaments, family baseball tournaments, and bingos, the Maidstone Columbus raised the funds necessary to purchase a property of its own.
1997 – 2001
After years of reviewing various properties and deliberation, the membership of the Council voted to purchase the property at 10720 County Rd. 34. In February 1997, the property was purchased in a member’s name in trust for the MCC. This was necessary because the MCC was not a legal entity and a K of C council is not allowed to own property. No debt was assumed to complete the purchase. The property was once owned by Superior Propane and last functioned as a residential dwelling and a studio for country dance lessons. The 3.94 acre property and 1,600 square foot main building was an eye sore and required significant renovation. Our volunteers began the long road of renovation but they were proud to finally have a place to call our own.
Between 1997 and 2001, the renovation efforts focussed on completely gutting the main building and cleaning up the exterior grounds that were overgrown with a lot of debris. Hayes Bros. Excavating successfully relocated the stone area behind the main building to form the base of a new parking lot for the centre. Years of dampness and heavy propane tanks stored at the rear of the main building caused significant damage to portions of the floor. Many volunteers spent countless hours replacing the floor joists and stabilizing the floor in preparation for a new ceramic floor. New bathrooms were also installed. During this timeframe, the Maidstone Columbus Club began the process to legally incorporate so that the property could be legally owned under its own name.
In February 2001, the Maidstone Columbus Club was incorporated as non-profit corporation in Ontario under the name “Maidstone Recreation Centre”. The mission statement was established as “to own and operate a community centre that offers social, athletic and recreational activities for the benefit of Maidstone and surrounding residents”. The Corporation’s first bylaws titled “Bylaw No. 1” were approved without amendment in April 2001. The Corporation’s first three directors were formerly appointed by the Council on this date; Jim Croft as President, Brian Soulliere as Treasurer, and Ken Gignac as Recording Secretary. In August 2001, the deed to the property was legally transferred to the Maidstone Recreation Centre from the “in trust in a member’s name” status for the Maidstone Columbus Club. Having fulfilled its goal, the MCC was disbanded and the Maidstone Recreation Centre or MRC took over management of the property.
Main Hall and Property in 1997
2002 – 2005
The MRC Board of Directors recognized the need to bring in new volunteer members to support the ongoing community centre transformation project. The MRC could not fulfill its mission statement while only having Catholic men as its membership. The property would not be viewed as a recreation centre available for all members of the community while being biased by religion and gender. In 2002, the membership of K of C Council #9226 successfully voted to open volunteer membership in the Maidstone Recreation Centre to all persons in the community over 18 years of age. As an important contributor to the successful formation of the Maidstone Recreation Centre, it was agreed that all active members in K of C council #9226 at that time became the first “honourary” members of the Maidstone Recreation Centre. The K of C Council was also given the privilege to hold its meetings on the property free of charge and all costs to maintain and operate the centre would be funded by the Maidstone Recreation Centre. The MRC also extended this privilege to other non-profit groups in the community such as the Goodfellows, Sandwich South O.P.P., and St. Mary’s Park Baseball.
In 2003, the first major step towards converting the exterior grounds into a recreational facility was completed with building the outdoor Pavilion and the attached meeting room. The MRC Board investigated the potential of installing a ball diamond on the property. It was determined that the property could only offer one ball diamond and the property did not have the proper dimensions to satisfy the requirements for an adult diamond. The Board visited several popular sand volleyball facilities that had recently formed in Windsor and determined that sand volleyball was a better alternative for the MRC property and the community that it served.
The Ontario Trillium Foundation was formed by the Provincial Government to offer grant funding to non-profit applicants looking for funding assistance for their community project. In 2004, the MRC applied for an OTF grant and was awarded $41,200 to install four sand volleyball courts, drainage tile and catch basins for the parking lot, a wheel chair accessible ramp and door, trees and grass for the park, and cement for a new sidewalk. In 2006, the MRC applied for and received another $20,000 in OTF grant funding to install lighting for the volleyball courts.
Pictures of Pavilion & Serving/Meeting Room Installation in 2003
Volleyball Court Installation in 2004 (Ontario Trillium Foundation Grant)
Tree and Grass Planting in 2004 (Ontario Trillium Foundation Grant)
Wheelchair Ramp Installation in 2004 (OTF Grant)
2006 – Present
With the completion of the court lighting installation, the MRC offered its first sand mixed volleyball league in May 2006 on Thursday evenings. The league started with 7 teams that season. In 2009, the MRC was licensed to sell and serve alcohol on the property under several conditions set forth by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission. By 2014, the league had expanded to 16 teams. In 2014, the MRC also began offering youth volleyball by hosting two successful youth tournaments. The MRC applied for a Community Builder Grant offered by Libro for its Youth Volleyball League proposal. The MRC was awarded $10,000 for a new tractor and equipment to groom the volleyball courts and court netting. The Bank of Montreal also awarded the MRC $800 towards the Youth Volleyball League project. 2015 will mark the 10th season for the Thursday Night Mixed League and the 1st season for the Sunday Mixed Youth Volleyball League!
The long journey to forming the Maidstone Recreation Centre has required countless hours of support from many volunteers and hundreds of thousands in fundraising over our history. Some of these dedicated members have sadly passed away and their efforts and friendship are appreciated and not forgotten. The collective vision for the property has been achieved. We are grateful for the tremendous volunteer support that has been received and we are proud that the MRC continues to operate successfully with a solid financial footing, completely debt free. Like any non-profit organization, the success of the MRC to continue to deliver on its mission to offer recreational and social opportunities to the community that it serves, requires a strong foundation of dedicated volunteer support. The MRC is always looking for new volunteer members that share our vision and mission for the Maidstone Recreation Centre.
Volunteer & Community Support