History of the Dutch-Canadian Society of London and District



The Difficult 90’s


The decade of the 1990’s was a difficult period for the DCS. The large post-war tide of Dutch immigrants had long since ebbed to a mere trickle. The generation that had established and built the club thirty years previously was well into its senior years and many of those who remained as members lacked the energy and health required to maintain an active involvement in Club activities. This was to have profound effects for the viability of the Club


During the course of the decade as the cohort consisting of the of the Club’s founders gradually diminished in number, it was not reinforced the sons and daughters. The vast majority of Dutch families had fully assimilated into the prevailing Canadian and English-language culture resulting in the gradual weakening of the Dutch presence, heritage, language and traditions in the London region. Even in the Club written Dutch had disappeared and spoken Dutch was rarely heard. Not unexpectedly, the Club’s attempts to involve second and third generations of Dutch-Canadians into the activities of the DCS met with little success.


These demographic and cultural realities are reflected in DCS membership statistics for the decade. Free Lifetime Membership was available to seniors with a continuous membership of at least ten years. By the end of the decade this group constituted a growing majority the DCS membership. On the other hand, the number of regular fee-paying members fell dramatically. In the span of ten years, without an influx of new members, the total membership number had fallen by ­­­­____ % and revenue from membership dues had declined by 44%. Symptomatic of these trends was the fact that attendance at and interest in the weekly dances declined to the point where they became a money-losing activity and were eventually greatly reduced.



Year

Lifetime Members

Honorary

Members

Regular Members


Total

Membership Dues in Dollars

1991





6780

1992





6855

1993





5865

1994





5965

1995





5708

1996

83

2

141

226

5849

1997

96

2

116

214

4595

1998

97

2

108

207

4310

1999

112

2

77

191

3802

2000

113

2

69

184






By the 90’s, the DCS hall, was in its fourth decade of service and was showing its age. Throughout the decade, issues arising out of the constant maintenance, repair and renovation of the building as well as the replacement of major appliances, furnace and air conditioners systems were at the forefront and took an ever-increasing share of the Club’s diminishing revenue. On average, during the course of the decade, the total annual net income was only about $1000.


The combination of a decline in membership numbers, the mounting burden of looking after an aging building, and the decrease in sources of traditional revenue posed serious financial challenges for the Club which responded by reducing expenditures wherever possible. This included the closing of the hall during the summer months, the gradual reduction and eventual elimination of regular dances, and the institution of tighter controls on inventory management. The Club also attempted to create new sources of income. While efforts in providing entertainment and bands that would appeal to a younger crowd were met with mixed results, and an attempt to contract a catering firm to handle food service were unsuccessful, the Sunday Night Singles Dances and frequent hall rentals, however, became new and reliable sources of income. In addition, each year many DCS affiliates were able to make cash donations to the general operating fund.


Most of the Dutch cultural and heritage activities were provided by the subsidiaries or affiliates. At the beginning of the 90’s there were seven active affiliates within the DCS. In 1991, Ann Vandermoer led a group of 32 Young Dancers who performed in traditional Dutch costumes throughout Ontario and beyond. A Pool Club led by Tom VanderMoer was active two nights a weekly. Art Van Luyk reported that the Card Club, with a membership of about fifty, was meeting weekly and that they had been successful in recent Ontario championships. The Panorama Committee, chaired by Jackie Tops was busy planning for DCS participation in the annual city-wide multi-cultural festival. The Dutch Veterans, or Wapen Broeders, had 57 members. Tony Van Esch reported that the Dykehoppers were going strong with successful events like “Octoberfest”, “Carnival” and a “Holland Night”. The Dykehoppers Band under the direction of John tenKate, had many invitations to perform. A small but hard-working Ladies Division looked after the kitchen service for dances and other events. In 1992, the Tomatosoup Band, a new affiliate was formed. Led by Eric Bos , it was an energetic Dutch-style carnival band.


By the end of the decade, however, the decline in membership and interest had taken its toll. Panorama which had generated significant income for the DCS was defunct. The Ladies Division and the Wapen Broeders were no longer active affiliates. The Young Dancers, Dykehoppers and Card Club all had suffered a reduction in members. The only affiliate still growing in membership was the fairly new Tomatosoup Band.






In spite of the demographic, societal and financial realities, a core group of loyal and hard-working DCS Board members did their best to energize the Club. They were able to keep it relevant for the remaining members and they were able to maintain financial viability both through creating new sources of revenue and through cutting costs. The efforts of these Directors and a group of reliable volunteers enabled the Club to serve the needs of its own members, to represent the Dutch-Canadian presence locally, and to offer the DCS facility and expertise to the wider community in London and Southwestern Ontario.


Special mention must be made of the efforts of the Presidents, John Van Kroonenburg who served until 1994 and Gerardus Ahlers who led the Club for the second half of the decade. In addition, stalwarts like Caspar VanderHelm, who was Secretary from 1990 to 1999 and Cor VanderMoer the Treasurer who, in 1998, completed twenty-eight years of continuous service, and Martin Van Der Mark who served as Vice President for six years, and Arie Vanderhulst who was a Director throughout the decade, all made notable contributions of time and talent.

The following is a complete list of Board Members who served during the 90’s.


Year

President

Vice President

Secretary

Treasurer

1991

John Van Kroonenburg

Andy Bak

Caspar VanderHelm

Cor DeMoel

1992

John Van Kroonenburg

Martin Van Der Mark

Caspar VanderHelm

Cor DeMoel

1993

John Van Kroonenburg

Martin Van Der Mark

Caspar VanderHelm

Cor DeMoel

1994

John Van Kroonenburg

Martin Van Der Mark

Caspar VanderHelm

Cor DeMoel

1995

Martin Van Der Mark

Gerry Ahlers

Caspar VanderHelm

Cor DeMoel

1996

Gerry Ahlers

Theo Vandenbreekel

Caspar VanderHelm

Cor DeMoel

1997

Gerry Ahlers

Theo Vandenbreekel

Caspar VanderHelm

Cor DeMoel

1998

Gerry Ahlers

Martin Van Der Mark

Caspar VanderHelm

Cor DeMoel

1999

Gerry Ahlers

Martin Van Der Mark

Caspar VanderHelm

Rinette Teunissen

2000

Gerry Ahlers

Martin Van Der Mark

Martin Gemmink

Rinette Teunissen

Year

Directors

1991

Nick Reyn

Arie VanderHulst

Jackie Tops

Jos Devilee

Bert Tops

1992

Gerry Ahlers

Arie VanderHulst

Jackie Tops

Jos Devilee

Bert Tops

1993

Gerry Ahlers

Arie VanderHulst

T. VanderMoer

Jos Devilee

Bert Tops

1994

Gerry Ahlers

Arie VanderHulst

Pam Van Wijk

Kim LeClair

Bert Tops

1995

A. Van Den Boogart

Arie VanderHulst

Pam Van Wijk

Arnold Arts

Bert Tops

1996

Martin Van Der Mark

Arie VanderHulst

Martin Gemmink

Arnold Arts

Kim LeClair

1997

Martin Van Den Mark

Arie VanderHulst

Tom VanderMoer

Theo Vandenbreekel

Kim LeClair

1998

Kim LeClair

Arie VanderHulst

Tom VanderMoer

Theo Vandenbreekel

Simon Swart

1999

Cheryl Witzell

Arie VanderHulst

Tom Vandermoer

Theo Vandenbreekel

Simon Swart

2000

Cheryl Witzell

Arie VanderHulst

Tom Vandermoer

Theo Vandenbreekel

Simon Swart




From the Minutes



1991

  • At the Annual Meeting a plaque is presented to Jos Devilee in appreciation of his 12 years of service and dedication to Kavalkade and Panorama

  • There is not enough money in the operating account and money and $10,000 loan is authorized to help, pay for replacement of floor tiles

  • Dutch band “Hoe We Heten Zijn We Vergete” performs

  • Pivately-run Friday Night Dance school ends

  • Panorama features Dutch music, artists, klompen maker, Young Dancers exhibit, and flower stand. There is a profit of $5029.05

  • Dykehoppers participate in Clinton “Klompen Festival”

  • Dykehoppers Band performs at an soccer match in Hamilton

  • Attendance at dances during the summer is poor but Hall will remains open

  • DCS applies for its own LLBO license



1992

  • Young Dancers have three groups to accommodate children of different ages

  • Pool Club has a full complement of eight on both Tuesday and Thursday evenings

  • Dykehopper events are still growing

  • Tomatosoup Band makes its debut appearance the opening of Carnival

  • Sunday Single Dances organized by Jos Devilee are successful with over 300 attending and soon becomes a new and steady source of revenue

  • Maximum payment on mortgage is to be made

  • Lease of parking lot space to a chip wagon brings in new revenue

  • Panorama to have Dutch market in a tent

  • Card Club celebrates its 25th Anniversary

  • The necessity of paying for water by the glass arouses strong debate




1993

  • Closing of Carnival is an enormous success

  • Panorama bookkeeping becoming increasingly complex

  • Ladies Division is losing members

  • Terms of Office for Directors is extended from one to two years

  • Mary VanderHulst is thanked for her help in making costumes for the Young Dancers

  • New commercial stove is installed in kitchen

  • Membership supports principle of mixed-gender teams for the Pool Club

  • Consideration given reducing members’ dances from two to one per month

  • Building receives new aluminum siding, soffit, fascia and eavestroughs




1994

  • John Vandelaar reports that the Panorama Committee was able to increase profits mainly through greater efficiency

  • Dykehoppers take part in the Ottawa Tulip festival

  • An upright freezer is installed in the kitchen

  • Young Dancers have two groups of children

  • Seminar for generating ideas to revitalize the DCS is completed

  • Front parking lot receives drainage improvements and is paved

  • Board suspends free members’ dances

  • Bar prices are raised to $2 per drink

  • Theatre Night is very successful




1995

  • Panorama Committee bookkeeping is reviewed

  • Country and Western music night is a big success but some members prefer a traditional band for dances

  • Members are encouraged to attend 50th Anniversary of Liberation of the Netherlands

  • The Dutch community provides meals for 1200 veterans

  • Notable Dutch military bands play Liberation concerts

  • Tomatosoup participates n Fredericton NB for VE Day celebrations

  • Panorama profits are down

  • Young Dancers perform at Lambton County Pioneer Museum

  • Dykehoppers organize Rocktoberfest dance to attract younger people

  • Smoking is banned at children’s St. Nicholas party



1996

  • Card Club puts on first “tombola”

  • Tomatosoup and Dykehopper bands perform at successful “Holland Night”

  • Saturday Night dances attendance is down despite trying new bands

  • City-Wide Panorama offers central location for all participating groups but DCS opts to have its own one-day event on premises

  • Board use of catering company to manage food service is discontinued

  • Jackie Clancy and Mary VanderHulst report that they are last two members of the Ladies Division, but are able to generate a $1000 donation to the Club.

  • “Dutch Canadians Remember” Committee donate Liberation Scroll to DCS

  • Bar prices increased from $2 to $2.50

  • Members admission to dances go from $3 to $5

  • New entertainment offerings such televised soccer, accordion player as well as traditional events like opening and closing of carnival, and St. Nicholas dance all have had disappointing attendance

  • Annual Financial Report indicate a deficit for the year




1997

  • Dykehoppers’ carnival events are less well attended

  • Sunday Single Dances numbers are down to 120-180 but still profitable

  • Back doors are reinforced and motion detectors installed in response to two break-ins

  • Card Club celebrates 30th anniversary; Cornelis Van Baardwijk is its new president

  • Tomatosoup acquires a bus and puts on its first and very successful Spring Fling event

  • DCS withdraws from city-wide Panorama

  • Main Hall is closed during summer months

  • A library of Dutch-language books is made available to members

  • Ria Lesmeister retires as facility cleaner after 16 years of service

  • Affiliates are asked to help put on Sunday Socials and other special events




1998

  • The closing of the Carnival season is a resounding success but due to lack of interest, the Dykehoppers decide to forego the “Octoberfest” and the opening of Carnival

  • Rejoining city-wide Panorama is suggested but DCS does not participate

  • Reduction to one dance per month with resulting increase in hall rentals proves to be financially beneficial

  • The main hall gets new valances, blinds and tables

  • A new furnace is installed and a beginning is made on renovating the cloakroom and vestibule areas

  • Ladies Division ends its activities

  • Cor De Moel retires after 28 years as Treasurer and is honoured by the members.




1999

  • Dykehoppers celebrate 3x11 anniversary year

  • Tomatosoup holds its first free “Open House” event

  • The Young Dancers holds its successful annual Indonesian Brunch fundraiser

  • Upstairs hall is painted and carpet is replaced with tile

  • The visiting Wieringerwaard Dancers, Dykehoppers and Tomatosoup join forces to entertain members

  • Saturday night dances are down to one per month but are poorly attended

  • Financial situation is improving

  • Tomatosoup goes to Holland

  • Bartenders take “Smart Service” course

  • The DCS entertains groups of visiting Dutch farmers

  • A reduction in the number of Board Members from nine to seven is proposed




2000

  • Monthly Bulletin has new editor and new name The Netherlander

  • Caspar VanderHelm is honoured for his many years of service

  • Four special dances are to replace the monthly Saturday Members’ Dance

  • Terry Schwarz elected first female president of the Dykehoppers

  • The Board to remain at nine Directors order to share workload among more people

  • Board considers inviting Princess Margriet to open a renovated hall but decides that financial implications do not permit this

  • Hall rentals and Singles Dances are main sources of revenue

  • Renovation costs result cash flow difficulties and a temporary bank loan of $10,000

  • Special Committee formed to plan DCS 40th Anniversary celebration