Skip to content

Cork Hall continues to thrive 75 years later

Located along Highway 36, about 20 km northwest of St. Paul, Cork Hall was incorporated on Nov. 30, 1948, and celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2023. 
Cork Hall celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2023. The community hall located on Highway 36 between St. Brides and Ashmont continues to serve the community.

National Volunteer Week takes place from April 14-20, 2024

LAKELAND - Scattered across rural Alberta are countless community halls where neighbours and families have gathered for many decades. To keep these halls operating and the doors open, countless volunteers must step forward to fundraise for repairs and upgrades, organize events, and other necessary tasks.  

Located along Highway 36, about 20 km northwest of St. Paul is Cork Hall. The community hall was incorporated on Nov. 30, 1948, and celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2023. 

Wallace Rice, Mike Shepert, Walter Brodziak, and Mike D. Podloski are listed as the first official board members in the application for incorporation. The yearly membership fee at that time was $1, according to information received from current secretary Alma Noel.  

She notes that the current board includes descendants of the Rice, Brodziak and Shepert families. The board is now made up of 11 members, and the hall has roughly 35 members. 

Speaking of the importance of keeping community halls alive, Noel says, “I think that these small local halls are steeped in tradition and community. They were started as a way to bring people together in a time when travelling great distances wasn't as easy as it is now.  Small rural halls provided a place for local people to get together to celebrate all sorts of events as a community.” 

Board director Brenda Shepert agrees, adding, “They provide a sense of community as members work together for a cause.” And gathering as a community helps creates a shared “sense of belonging, a sense of connectedness which in turn promotes the mental health of the community.” 

While there may be more opportunity to travel and other, larger spaces to gather, Noel believes, “small, local halls still operate on the same fundamentals of community and hold a lot of advantages. Our hall is smaller and allows for people to access space for smaller events at an affordable price point.” 

Events at Cork Hall range from market, to weddings, garage sale, family Christas celebrations, town halls, meetings, and even exercise classes. 

“Small local halls still provide a comfortable place to gather together as a community for whatever you need,” says Noel. 

Operating a hall isn’t without challenges. Recruiting members and volunteers can be tough.  

“Work and life commitments can sometimes make it hard to add to your to do list especially for an organization that doesn't have mandatory volunteer requirements. Cork Hall has been blessed to have many families in the area that have ties to the hall right from its inception,” says Noel. 

And when there is work to be done, “our members are up for whatever the task,” says Shepert. 

Increased costs to keep the hall operational is another challenge – which comes in the form of utilities and maintenance, “and it requires many volunteer hours to come up with the income to make ends meet,” says Noel. 

Having lived near the hall for close to 25 years, Noel has many fond memories of Cork Hall. 

“As a child, I attended Vacation Bible School in the summer and remember being in a Christmas production of some sort. As a teenager, I was involved in serving meals when there were weddings booked at the hall.  Probably my fondest memory of the hall is having my bridal shower there nearly 20 years ago.” And now, she brings her own children to events at the hall. 

Noel says she got involved on an operational level a few years ago to ensure the hall could thrive and carry on. 

“I've always been interested in the history and story of places and how they came to be. I wanted to help to honour those that put so much time and effort into creating the hall all those years ago by making sure it remains a benefit to my community,” she says. “Being involved with the hall has brought me closer to my neighbours and I'm proud to be involved with a great group of people to keep the history alive.” 


Cork Hall has seen many upgrades over the last few years, including work done to the exterior of the building, having the kitchen inspected and approved, and work has also been done to make the hall fully accessible. 

“We now have a wheelchair accessible bathroom on the main level of the hall and last summer completed the wheelchair ramp on the front entrance of the hall,” says Noel.  

Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks