On February 4th, 1964, citizens from the Maillardville community decided to join the provincial organization “British Columbia Old Age Pensioners Organization” (BCOAPO). It was an effort to unite the French Canadian seniors in Maillardville. The 11 members were John B. Dicaire, Arthur C. Dicaire, E. Ouellette, Adélard & Bernadette Sauvé, Ormidas (Henri) Goulet, Anthony Finnigan, Léon Leclair, Adélard Noel, U. Landreville and Régina Dicaire. They applied for permission to form a branch local. This was to be known as Maillardville Branch No. 86. And so began a 40 year association with BCOAPO. Mr. John Dicaire and Adélard Sauvé opened the first bank account on March 19th, 1964.
Very few of the early records have been found and we do not know the names of those who served on the executive boards until 1978. Mr. Rosaire Bruneau was the president and followed by Mr. Emmanuel Parent in ’79. We’ve had 8 wonderful people since then who have stepped up to do the job. Mr. Napoléon Gareau, Mr. Léo Comeau, Mrs. Germaine Lemay, Mrs. Armella Ledet, Mr. Jean Lambert, Mrs. Henriette Sévigny, Mrs. Rose-Anne L’Heureux and Mrs. Suzanne Tkach.
In 1987, the executive applied for funding from a federal government initiative called “New Horizons”. It was approved and office equipment was purchased for the branch. For a short time, office space at the Foyer Maillard was shared with the Sociéte Maillardville-Uni.
In 1989, Armella Ledet was elected president. Her dream was for the members to have their own hall. She approached Mr. Lou Sekora, mayor at that time, who strongly encouraged that dream. Armella asked Mr. René Gamache, a long time friend and ex-city alderman to further the cause. He agreed to help and the rest is history. The “Pensionnés de Maillardville” worked with city officials to make the dream a reality. The official opening of Centre Bel Âge at Place Maillardville Community Centre was held on December 7th, 1991. The members of Br. 86 were quite excited and very grateful to have their own “home”.
In November 1993, their first Coordinator was hired on a part time basis. Suzanne Tkach, first employee of SMU, became the first employee of Br. 86 with Mr. Jean Lambert as president at that time. The office was open three days a week and a myriad of activities and programming were offered to its members. The club and its members continue to be active in the community, participating in events such as Festival du Bois and volunteering at the Foyer Maillard.
Mrs.Suzanne Tkach retired from her post as Coordinator in 2007, took a bit of a rest and in 2010 stepped up to take the challenge to become our new President. The office was now open 4 days a week, Monday to Thursday, 10am to 4pm and Mrs. Diane Johnston is the coordinator.
In 2012, Donald Bernard was elected President.
In 2014, Louise Boisjoli replaced Diane Johnston as our coordinator. Our office is still open 4 days a week, Monday to Thursday (closed Fridays) but the hours are now 10am to 3.30pm.
In 2017, Lisa Kamerling replaced Louise Boisjoli as Coordinator. The hours remain Monday to Thursday, 10am to 3:30pm.
Our seniors are vibrant and always willing to go one step further. We have been able to keep the tradition of our culture by having our monthly meetings and other activities in French. Our membership has been stable around the 200 mark. Times have changed and today’s seniors do not want to be known as “old age pensioners”, especially if you’re only 50. We are no longer members of BCOAPO and have now changed our name to “Club Bel Âge” to include younger members and to update our image.
Members of Club Bel Âge have been recognized as community builders. It is our wish that we continue to do so and that in 50 years, our descendants will be celebrating what our ancestors began.