Century House is one of the oldest municipally run seniors’ centres in Canada.
It was officially opened on July 23, 1958 by Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret, and has been serving the community since.
Century House and Century House Association have been working together to provide activities for seniors since that day. The city owns the building and the land and pays the staff and for the maintenance, upkeep and operations of the building. The Century House Association works together with the staff to provide activities and programs for all the members to enjoy and utilizes volunteers to run dozens of drop in activities every week.
Century House has undergone renovations and face lifts over the years, including the 2010 addition of a dedicated Youth Centre to the back of the building. This has not only led to more opportunities for intergenerational activities but also allowed our members to enjoy the use of an exercise room, computer room and small gymnasium when the students are in school. A 2019 highlight was a system update that gave us air conditioning.
New Westminster had a seniors’ centre before an indoor pool or community centre. 1958 was the city’s centenary, and they wanted a special project. When a pool was shown to be too expensive, they settled on a seniors’ centre. It was almost built downtown, but Dunc Russell and others persuaded council to use the Moody Park location.
You can read all about this in the book Century House New Westminster 1958-1988. There’s a copy at the office. The book also explains how we came to have our unique collaborative operational model from the start.
Opening Day – The original building was opened on July 23, 1958, by Her Royal Highness, Princess Margaret.
Growth – By 1962, members were already asking for an expansion. In 1966, we got a new auditorium and an extension to the kitchen. In 1971, the auditorium was expanded, and in 1972 its basement became the Games Room. The Clarion newsletter started in 1976. In 1981 we expanded the kitchen and relocated the office. 1980 saw the first staff programmer, and 1982 was the start of Food Services. The 30th anniversary in 1988 brought even more renovation. Our first volunteer coordinator started in 2007. In 2008 — how time flies! – we placed a Time Capsule (see below) for our 50th anniversary.
In 2010 we added a dedicated Youth Centre to the back of the building. This has led to more opportunities for intergenerational activities, and also allowed our members to enjoy an exercise room, computer room and small gymnasium when the students are in school.
We’ve passed our 60th anniversary and we’re still developing.
During a conversation about how to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Century House, former member Betty Gilroy suggested making a time capsule. A Committee was formed with Betty, Joyce Babington, and Mary Ross to develop plans for the project. Notices were placed in the Clarion asking the membership to contribute ideas and memorabilia. A suitable wooden box was constructed by City carpenter, Paul Grant. Paul’s talents and expertise are clearly shown in the beautiful design of the cover of the box. Wording of the attached plaque was researched by Betty and Joyce.
The capsule contains old Clarions, photos, badges, stories, 50th Anniversary CD, photos and awards from the Sluggers Baseball Team, and other memorabilia of the time. There is also a letter to the Association Executive of 2058 giving the history and suggesting that two youth who were actively involved with the planning of the Youth Centre, and who will be seniors themselves by this time, be invited to attend the opening of the Time Capsule.The Time Capsule was dedicated at a ceremony during the 50th Anniversary Celebrations in 2008 and is installed as a feature of the Century House Library shelving. The plan is to open the Capsule in 2058 as a part of Century House’s 100th Anniversary celebrations.
Unfortunately, Betty Gilroy did not live to see the completion of this project as she passed away in October 2007. We are indebted to Betty for her many contributions to the Century House family.
Last Reviewed on 2022-06-15