Get out the cake and candles – the Goward House Society is turning 25.
The non-profit organization based out of the former residence of the Goward family is celebrating 25 years in the community. The milestone happens to coincide with its yearly Music on the Lawn performance, set for Tuesday, with classic rock, oldies and country tunes provided by Fat Cat.
“We thought it would be a nice thing to piggyback on Music on the Lawn for the celebration,” said society president David Eyles. “We’re kind of amalgamating the two things.”
While the Goward House has been standing since 1908, the society started in 1991, sometime after the District of Saanich took ownership of the property.
“Because it was six acres and it was zoned so it could be split up into small lots, you can imagine what the tax burden was,” said Eyles. “Owen Goward, my uncle, made the deal with Saanich that, in return for allowing them to live here as long as they were alive, Saanich would then take over the house.”
Eyles said the house remained empty for a few years until the Cadboro Bay Residents Association suggested the idea of turning it into a seniors activity centre. That proposal ultimately led to the creation of the society and the use of the Goward House for such activities as painting, paper quilling, tai chi, billiards and line dancing.
“There’s always something happening here,” said Goward House administrator Elaine Leonard. “A lot of our programs are member-generated. We have four or five new programs starting in September that came from member suggestions. Genealogy, memoirs, Italian conversation and a cooking club.
“Some of our clubs have four or five people, and some – like bridge – have up to 50. It really depends on what the group is, the dynamics of it, how much space they need and how much time they need.”
The Goward House currently has around 500 members, and Leonard said they try to keep a diverse lineup of activities to appeal to as many members as possible. The house also runs free events that are open to the public.
“We try and do a nice blend of things that are educational, health-related and entertaining,” she said.
Eyles said the annual Music on the Lawn event is very well attended, with 300 people turning out to last year’s edition. With the society’s celebration of 25 years, that turnout could increase this year.
“People have come to know it over the years and enjoy it, so there may well be a few additional people,” said Eyles.
Music on the Lawn takes place Tuesday, July 5, with a barbecue from 5 to 7 p.m. and a live performance by Fat Cat from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is free. Bring a blanket or a folding chair to enjoy the show.
For more information, visit gowardhouse.com.