Westmark was one of the first areas of Saddle Hills County to be settled. How long has the Westmark Farmers League been around?
The first meeting was held in December 1946.
Why was the League started?
An organizational meeting was held to discuss a community hall, new site, funding and election of a board of directors. The chosen executives met to draft bylaws and objectives and adopted the name Westmark Farmers League. The League took the responsibilities for raising funds; gaining permits; gathering local building materials; and organizing with everyone volunteering time, labor, and horse teams. Later, the League also organized hall functions and looked after the ongoing care and maintenance of the Westmark Hall.
Do you know how they settled on the name Westmark Farmers League and not Northmark Farmers League?
The old and small Northmark Hall was deteriorating and rarely used. The new location was more central, and the community on the south side of the Burnt River was known as Westmark. The name and bylaws were registered under the Societies Act.
When was the decision to build a community hall, and how difficult was it to have it all come together so that the hall could be built?
In the winter of 1947-1948, community members volunteered to cut trees and haul them to a local sawmill where 30,000 board feet were sawn and planed, and then hauled to the hall site on SW15-76-7-W6. Community members worked on the hall every chance they could. Work started after seeding was done, and the hall was closed in before the coming winter.
What were some of the most popular events held at the Westmark Hall?
In the early days, community members enjoyed gathering for plays and card games. They celebrated farmers day picnics, hosted chicken suppers as a fundraiser, and held Easter parade and Boxing Day dances. They held regular monthly dances with local musicians playing lively music. The annual Octoberfest dinner and dance was started in the 1980s.
How often is the Westmark Hall hosting events when not in a pandemic?
The hall today still celebrates the Farmers Day picnic and Octoberfest. We also have an amazing Halloween family potluck supper, with costumes, treat bags, and the highly anticipated Haunted House. We host an annual appreciation luncheon for CNRL. In December we have our community Christmas party with a potluck supper, music and Santa Claus.
What sort of activities typically take place at the hall?
Over the years, we have hosted weddings and anniversaries, birthday parties, meetings, and family reunions. The hall is provided with luncheon at no charge for funerals for past or present families.
The Goodwill Quilters Club will be starting at Westmark Hall in January 2022.
In the past few years some upgrades and improvements have been made to the hall. What were those upgrades and why were they needed?
Our hall was in a state of disrepair and did not meet the current building and safety codes. In 2014, League members held a meeting in which they discussed about whether to upgrade the existing hall or make a decision to close its doors forever. As a tribute to our early pioneers for their great contributions to the community, it was decided to upgrade the original hall and bring it to building standards. Work included upgrades on insulation and wiring as well as restoration of the original pine plank flooring and rebuilding/redesigning the stage to create storage at the north end of the hall. A new sound system and large screen were also installed. A 1,200-square-foot addition was made to the east side of the restored hall. Water and sewer, bathrooms, larger kitchen, small meeting room, and storage and utility rooms were added as well as a cloak room. Two new furnaces and an air conditioner keep the whole hall comfortable and energy-efficient.
We thank Saddle Hills County for its continued support to operate and maintain the updated 75-year-old Westmark Hall. The hall is very instrumental in keeping our community connected and is a valuable and respected asset for the area.
It must take a lot of volunteer hours to maintain the hall and the League. How many members does the League have? Does it actively recruit new members?
At present, we have 25-30 members. New neighbors are welcomed to the hall functions and encouraged to be part in planning League activities and fundraising. We are very fortunate our members are very generous with their time and talents.
How can people help the League to fundraise?
We are very grateful to be the caretaker of the Hilltop Lake campsite through an arrangement with Saddle Hills County. It is definitely our largest fundraiser. Many families volunteer for two weeks at a time to collect garbage, clean washrooms, tidy the whole campsite, and provide grounds maintenance.
When community life returns to a more normal state and families and community groups can start booking facilities again, what should people know about the Westmark Hall and the Westmark Farmers League?
We welcome anyone to book our wonderful 100-person seating capacity hall. We offer a fully stocked kitchen and separate bar room. The extraordinary dance floor, sound system, large screen and air conditioning provide a year-round facility suitable for many special occasions and work-related purposes. There is camping space on the hall grounds as well as a ball diamond, and horse-shoe pits are easily accessible. The hall is 7 miles from the Chinook golf course, 4 miles from Hilltop Lake, 5 miles from St. John’s Lutheran church and 22 miles from Spirit River.
The Westmark Farmers League has just recently taken on managing the Hilltop Lake campground. What does this entail, and is it done by a group of Westmark Farmers League volunteers?
The League is responsible for arranging a contract for a local person(s) to collect/manage campsite rental fees and be available to be at the campsite on a daily basis. The executive members oversee the arrangement as needed.
What made the League decide to take on the responsibility of managing the Hilltop Lake campground?
The community is proud of the Hilltop Lake campsite, and it made sense financially for a local person to travel to the lake regularly.
- Location: RR 2, Woking, AB T0H 3V0
- Phone: (780) 774-2193
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org