Dancing is back in Beebe
Music and dance, loud and lively, have always been an important part of Eastern Townships culture and now, thanks to a couple of Stanstead retirees, it has found a home, once again, in Beebe.
Gail and Peter Weileder, who retired to Stanstead about ten years ago after living in Kitchener for many years, bought the old Beebe Town Hall, in May, and have turned it into an already popular dance hall. “We would go to lots of dances when we were young. Mom and Dad would take us to Nick Dean’s barn dances, just outside of Lennoxville,” explained Gail who grew up in Beebe, the daughter of Lilian and Clarence Flanders. “We still enjoy dancing and have been going to lots of dances since we came back. We’ve met so many people through dancing,” she added. “Since we moved back here, we’ve always had to travel to towns like Ives Hill, Cowansville, sometimes into the States, to go dancing,” said Peter.
The idea to open their own dance hall came unexpectedly and on the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary. “Last year, we rented the Beebe Town Hall to hold a celebration for our wedding anniversary. I was looking around at the full hall and at all of the people dancing; I think the seed was sown right there,” said Gail. The couple bought the building from the town of Stanstead, and agreed that they would continue to allow the Cuisine Collectif program to operate there as well as the food bank. Some day soon, the couple plans to have a coffee room ready for seniors to come and socialize, play cards and board games.
The Weileders have already hosted two dances in their new hall and they have three more coming up in June. “We had Leo Wilson and his Boys playing the music at both of the dances and they’ll be playing at the dances coming up. They’re wellknown around the neighbourhood and used to play in Austin regularly in the afternoons,” said Peter about the musicians who provide the lively music for the Western/polka style dancing that is so popular with Townshippers.
“There were over eighty people for our first dance, and we had over ninety for our second dance,” mentioned Gail. Peter added: “They come from as far away as Sawyerville, Colebrook, Richmond, Waterville, Ayer’s Cliff, Tomifobia, Derby, and lots of people come from Beebe, Rock Island and Stanstead. Now they’re the ones who are travelling to do dancing instead of us!”
The building, though quite old, is reportedly in good condition and certainly has character. “The Beebe Town Hall is in very good shape. When there were ninety people here dancing, the floor didn’t even move!” said Peter emphatically. The Weileders have renovated several homes, including their home in Stanstead. Mrs. Weileder commented: “All of our friends thought that we were crazy when we bought
Gail and Peter Weileder have brought some action to town, opening up a dance hall in the former Beebe Town Hall.
The beautiful hall, seen here behind Gail and Peter Weileder, has been referred to as an architectural gem and is still in great shape. The couple haven’t yet worked out how they will change the lightbulbs in the hall’s ceiling lights, just one of the challenges included in the adventure. photo Victoria Vanier