A History of our Club
Early History of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Newcomers Club
The seeds were planted for a Niagara-on-the-Lake Newcomers Club in October of 1991. Rosanne Fedorkow, the founder of the Niagara-on-the-Lake University Women’s Club, and her friend Betty Hilton, who had recently moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake wanted to organize a club for people new to the area which would provide both intellectual stimulation and an introduction to Niagara-on-the-Lake. They placed an ad in The Advance, and had a meeting at Hilton’s home. Three women and one man attended the first meeting, but the gentleman never returned, thus setting a precedence, remaining today, of NOTL Newcomers as a women’s Club. The Club was firmly established by 1992 and the focus of the early meetings was on local service groups and encouragement for those new to the area to participate in their new community, an attribute that continues to be important for Newcomers today.
By 1994 the Club had “ballooned” to almost forty members. At various times Newcomers were divided into various subgroups: Golden Girls, Sovereign Friends, “Act I” and “Act II” to accommodate activities for its growing numbers. These activities included lunches, parties, picnics and tours of the local area. Many of the early venues are still important for Club activities today such as visits to McFarland House, Navy Hall, the Pumphouse, Shaw Festival, Queenston Heights, and the Queenston Art Gallery to name a few. Trips farther afield such as Niagara Falls, the Hamilton Botanical Gardens and the Albright-Knox Museum in Buffalo were also added to Newcomer events.
By 1995, Newcomers had become more structured. An ad was placed in The Community Awareness booklet and the organization of special interest groups, such as Bridge, Birding, Golf, and Dinner Clubs for Couples began. By 1996, membership became so large that the group moved from members' homes to Grace United Church. In 1998 membership fees were established and in 1999, Jacquie MacInnes, initiated a Newcomers newsletter. By 2000, membership began to approach 100 and Newcomers joined the National Council of Newcomers (today known as the National Newcomers Association Canada). Two members attended the national meeting in Thornhill and when they returned a committee was formed to draft a set of By-Laws for the Club.
Today, membership in Newcomers is growing to almost 400 women. Meetings are now held in the NOTL Community Centre and various venues in the area and the Club still provides a very important introduction for women who have recently moved to the area.
Historical records for the Niagara-on-the-Lake Newcomers are housed in the Niagara-on-the-Lake Historical Society and Museum, which includes Rose Finnigan’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Newcomers History, an important source for this write-up.