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Updated: Oct 17, 2023

The non-mill residents worked as diligently as their mill partners to provide the organization necessary for a strong community. Almost certainly, the first organized community event at Shawnigan Lake occurred when the owner of the hotel in the village, Mrs. Kingsley, hosted a Community Christmas Tree celebration. This event later moved to the Athletic Association hall and endured from 1900-1977.

As Shawnigan began to develop, there was much enthusiasm to erect a building where the community could meet for social and sports events. This led to the formation of the Shawnigan Lake Athletic Association (SLAA) which managed, through fundraising and the sale of shares, to build a lovely, large building on the village waterfront in 1910.

The Shawnigan Lake Library Association was established as early as 1916 and continued through 1977. The Women’s Institute, formed in 1914, was responsible for many of the finer aspects of community life. The Shawnigan Branch for the Duncan Board of Trade (Chamber of Commerce) held meetings at the Athletic Association building as early as 1917. The first group of Girl Guides in the area incorporated in 1928.

The original Shawnigan Farmers Institute joined with the Cobble Hill Agricultural Society (est.1908) and became the Shawnigan-Cobble Hill Farmers Institute and Agricultural Society. This organization still hosts annual fairs at the Cobble Hill Hall and fairgrounds.

From the 20s through the 50s there were a remarkable number of organizations working for the betterment of the small Shawnigan Lake community. At that time, if there was a need, there was a volunteer group to take care of it.

This does not mean that the community of Shawnigan Lake was all work and no play. The number of regular social events at Shawnigan, starting early in the last century, is staggering considering the size of the community and the available modes of travel. There were frequent dances, card parties and entertainment events. In addition, sports were a very important element of the community. Every Saturday night, there would be a girls’ basket ball game, then a boys’ basketball game followed by a dance. For many years Shawnigan hosted a popular annual Regatta Day where water sport events were featured. The day would finish, of course, with a dance in the hall.

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