INNISFAIL – One of the town’s oldest service groups, dormant for many years, finally reopened its doors to the public with a goal to be once again accepted as a valuable resource for the entire community.
The Orange Lodge held an open house for the public on Sept. 12 at its downtown area hall, located at 5204 - 49 Ave.
It was a chance for the public to learn more about the Innisfail Orange Lodge, which is affiliated with the Canadian branch of the Orange Order, a Protestant fraternal organization that began in County Armagh in Ireland in 1795.
As a service club, the Orange Lodge was once a major force in the town and region for many decades but membership has since dwindled, and today’s members, all of whom reside out of town, are attempting to revive interest.
Ron Murphy, master of the local Orange Lodge, said he was pleased with the public response to the open house. He said service club members were anticipating anywhere from 10 to 50 people to drop by the hall for a coffee, or soda, some snacks, and chat about the community and the long century-old history of the Orange Lodge in the community.
“We want to just embrace the community, and move forward in what we do with the community,” said Murphy, noting the primary goal of the 12-member club is to once again be an important contributor for the entire community.
To start that process, members put together a $5,000 budget earlier this year to fix up the old hall, which has been in town for more than a half century, although members are still trying to determine its origins and when it was actually built.
Over the summer club members came in from out of town and fixed up the building, which included a new paint job.
“A gentleman came by and said he used to bring his two nannies to play cards here on a Friday night,” said Murphy of the recent feedback the service group has received over the summer leading to the open house. “We would love to be back in that situation with the community but it takes time. This is the first step.
“I know my members are happy with what they’ve seen,” he said, adding the Orange Lodge is also aiming to partner with other local service groups on community projects. “I am tremendously happy with what they’ve done so far, and what we’ve accomplished during the summer months, and I am looking forward to doing more of that.”
The open house also served to attract interest in the community to rent the old hall, which will give the Orange Lodge revenues to pay for the cost to maintain the hall.
“It was a shame to all of us collectively that this building sits idle 29 days a month,” said Murphy. “We are not for profit so we just need to look over our costs. If we start to make a profit we are going to turn that back into the community.
“What we are all about now is a little bit of self-survival and that we need to get this building utilized a little bit more to offset our overheads.”
Murphy said there was significant interest shown during the open house from various groups and individuals looking into the possibility of renting the hall, both for one-off events and for regular use.
For more information about the service group and the availability of the Orange Hall, citizens can contact Murphy at 403-585-9234.