You can hear the clack of snooker balls everyday of the week (except Sundays) at Century House — one of the oldest municipally-run seniors' centres in the country.
As per Ted Grewcutt, a member of the community centre for folks aged 50 and older, and chairperson of its Snooker Activity Group, there is a small group of people, including himself, that religiously plays the sport every morning at 9 a.m. Then there are those who come in to play in the afternoons and in the evenings, he added.
So, overall, the snooker tables at the seniors' centre are used throughout the week.
But, this wasn’t always the case.
When Century House was opened on July 23, 1958 by Her Royal Highness, Princess Margaret, it didn’t include a recreation room where people could walk in with their cue sticks and start potting the balls.
Frances Blake, a member of Century House for 27 years and a past president, read out from a book (that, she said, could be found at the front desk of the centre), over a call: “For the first 14 years of its existence, Century House had no facilities for pool, billiards or snooker. When the improvement including the provision of basement space below the auditorium was completed in 1971, the Gyro Club undertook to equip the area as a games room."
"And the room was opened in June, on June 28, 1972. There were two pool tables and a group was organized.”
Four years later, in 1976, two more tables were added through a New Horizons for Seniors Program (a federal grant and contributions program) grant, said Blake.
Over the years, the group's membership, which costs $40 per year, has stayed almost stable, with around 30 players using the four available snooker tables everyday.
While most join the group for a leisurely snooker session, about 10 players in the group — a team of eight and two spares — are part of a league, said Grewcutt, who has been a member of the group since 2018.
They go to seven seniors centres, including Dogwood Pavilion and Bonsor 55+ Society, to play competitively. Players from other communities come to New West’s Century House too, he said. But the last time they won any league was in 2014-2015, he recalled.
The pandemic affected the group’s daily meet-ups, Grewcutt noted. There was a drop in general activities (Century House offers a range of activities from pickleball to badminton, card games, lawn bowling and quilting among others) at the centre, including the snooker club, he added.
“Now we're just trying to arrange the memberships because COVID put everything in a sort of flux. And some people are still leery about coming back,” said Blake.
But the snooker group, one of the oldest activity groups at Century House, has stayed resilient. For those like Grewcutt, the group has provided "fellowship", "competition", and an opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
And for that reason and more, on Thursday, Nov. 17, the Snooker Activity Group will celebrate its 50th birthday with cake and coffee in the presence of current and former members, said Blake. “We're looking for new members,” she added.
“We’d like to invite any 50-plus people to come and see the room and enjoy some fellowship, and see what it's like.”
Snooker Activity Group's 50th anniversary celebrations will be organized at the Century House, located at 620 Eighth St., at 10 a.m.