The Mary Winspear Centre has a long history of community support and pride, which continue to be strong foundations of our facility. Let us share a bit of our wonderful history...
Sanscha Hall - The Beginning
In 1921, a 12-acre North Saanich War Memorial Park was established by the Memorial Park Society in dedication to the local men lost in the First World War. The park also included an athletic field and children's playground. In 1958, the non-profit Sidney and North Saanich Community Hall Association (SANSCHA) built the Sanscha Community Hall on this land. The association adopted the financial responsibility for the hall largely through volunteer fundraising. Groups such as the "Sanscha Suzies" dedicated their time to raising funds through bake sales and other activities.
Clearly, Sanscha Hall was undertaken by the community, for the community. A strong spirit of volunteerism from SANSCHA members supported the services of the community hall for many years, with little outside funding assistance. During the 1960s, these efforts were tried, but fortunately, the founding of the community event "Sidney Days" as a means of funding enabled the hall to continue to serve the community.
Also in the 1960s, the Sanscha Hall, athletic field and surrounding lands were named as "The North Saanich Memorial Park" (NSMP). The property was placed under the management of a Public Trust with the residents of Sidney and North Saanich as the beneficiaries - a testament to the founding and servicing of the lands and hall by the community. The Town of Sidney released the Memorial Park of property taxes (and currently has a similar agreement in place).
SANSCHA members continued to operate Sanscha Hall for seven decades. In 1993, the board members dissolved their association and turned the responsibility for the hall over to the Memorial Park Society (MPS) Directors. The development of the lands were continued and new opportunities considered. In 1994, the Sanscha Site Re-Development Study for MPS considered the replacement of Sanscha Hall.
Building the Mary Winspear Centre
In 1995, a proposal call went out to build a new 30,370 square foot facility, with an estimated cost of $6 million. Through an impressive "Honouring the Past - Building the Future" fundraising campaign by the newly formed Sanscha Community Cultural Centre Foundation, and the involvement of several generous donors, the re-development project was successfully completed. To honour the rich past of Sanscha Hall and its volunteers, the new centre was built around the original hall, upgrading it acoustically and seismographically.
In September 2001, the Mary Winspear Centre opened its doors to an excited, proud community. The new facility was named after the inspirational Mary Winspear. William Winspear, her nephew, was a very generous contributor to the campaign in honour of Mary. She dedicated her life to educating youth and retired to the Peninsula where William would visit in the summers.
Like Sanscha Hall in the early years, the Mary Winspear Centre has continued to evolve since its opening into a mainstay conference and cultural centre in the community.