Janet Morningstar of Kiwanis Club holds a photo of the Kiwanis members outside the newly built Tea Room in 1949. The public is invited to celebrate the Kiwanis Tea Room’s 70th birthday at Willows Beach with a 10 a.m. heritage walk and an 11 a.m. cake cutting, featuring Mayor Kevin Murdoch. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Kiwanis’ Willows Tea Room celebrates 70 years

May 25 event features cake cutting and heritage walk to celebrate piece of Oak Bay history

The Kiwanis Tea Room at Willows Beach will be celebrated with a cake cutting and a new plaque dedication on Saturday.

The current two-storey tea room was constructed in 1949 and follows a lineage of the original beach side tea rooms at Willows (previously Oak Bay Park) by several decades.

To commemorate the 70th birthday of the Kiwanis Willows Tea Room, Rob Taylor of Oak Bay Heritage will lead a heritage walk at 10 a.m. from the tea room. The brief walk returns to the tea room at 10:45 a.m. for an 11 a.m. plaque dedication (sponsored by Telus) and a cake cutting featuring Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch.

“It was Murdoch’s grandfather on Oak Bay council in 1948 who made the motion to build the tea room at Willows,” said Janet Morningstar, the director and media chair for the Kiwanis Club of Oak Bay.

READ MORE: Sizzling success for first Kiwanis Sunday breakfast of the season

“Think about the thousands of people who’ve grown up eating hotdogs from the Tea Room, spending their days at Willows Beach,” said Taylor. “There’s not many people who can remember Willows before the Kiwanis Tea Room was here.”

In July 1947, Oak Bay Kiwanis built a ‘hut’ at Willows Beach. By the following year it made over $700 in net profits, all donated for youth recreational facilities. In 1949, the club built the current tea room which continues to be the main source of revenue. The celebration is a partnership of the Kiwanis Club of Oak Bay, the Community Association of Oak Bay, the Mayor of Oak Bay, Oak Bay Heritage and Telus PureFiber, Morningstar said.

The Kiwanis Club of Oak Bay was founded in 1947 and one of the club’s first initiatives was to build a tea room at Willows Beach. The club formed of businessmen and contractors was encouraged by the bank and councillors of Oak Bay.

Originally, Allen’s Tea Rooms, the earlier tea room building, stood about 100 yards along the beach from the current Kiwanis Tea Room, about two houses past where the washrooms and playground are. It was built in 1916 and closed circa 1945.

Women, of course, couldn’t join the Kiwanis men’s club until 1995, a fact Morningstar still finds surprising. Nonetheless, many women did work hard behind the scenes either preparing, planning or selling for Kiwanis.

Today, the building stands as an icon in Oak Bay, a piece of heritage, Morningstar said.

“It is a time anchor, and it will stay that way,” she said.

Over the last two decades Kiwanis Club has opened the Tea Room and served up hotdogs and fries and other fast foods in addition to tea and sandwiches. The cozy tearoom often provides a much-needed refuge from the ocean breeze, even on a sunny July evening. It is open April to September and proceeds fund many community projects and not-for-profits in Oak Bay and Greater Victoria. In 2018, Kiwanis of Oak Bay donated $60,000 to charities in Oak Bay and Victoria, and Kiwanis Pavilion Foundation raised over $100,000 for the Kiwanis Pavilion.

Among the Kiwanis Club initiatives are the Kiwanis Pavilion at 3034 Cedar Hill Rd., a 122-room residential care facility serving frail seniors and seniors who live with dementia. Kiwanis of Oak Bay also supports Kiwanis Manor at 1075 Milton St. in Oak Bay, a 69-room residence for low-income seniors. As well, Kiwanis Club of Oak Bay operates the 70-unit supportive housing unit for seniors called Rose Manor at 857 Rupert Terrace Rd.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

 

From April 13, 1949, the Kiwanis Willows Tea Room. Above from left, Chas Mann, A. Findlay, E. Brinkworth, and J. Ruttan. Below, R. Hewitt, A. Peers, C. Steele, Dr. Roy Johnson, F. Robinson, E. Luney, H. Alder, A. Partridge, A. Hill, and R. Winters. Missing is Arthur Luney who spearheaded the project, though his brother Edward is present. (J.L. Magrath Photo)

A crowd poses in front of Allen’s Tea Rooms and beach house in 1919. Note the boat launch. Behind is what is now the Esplanade. (Private Collection)

Just Posted

Saanich-based pharmaceutical company stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Transit looking for more feedback on Sooke plan. Again.

Once approved, the plan could take seven years to implement

Technical difficulties delay Victoria’s $500,000 Christmas light village

The Lights of Wonder display was originally set to open on Dec. 13

Canada names 24 athletes to compete for 2020 Pan Am Cross Country Cup

The event takes place at Langford’s Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa on Feb. 29

Man allegedly behind Greater Victoria restaurant thefts arrested

Jason Perry is expected in court on Dec. 10

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Six B.C. municipalities accepted as interveners in Supreme Court of Canada carbon-pricing case

Victoria, Vancouver, Squamish, Richmond, Nelson and Rossland have intervener status

SOOKE HISTORY: The North Star and Sven Johansson

Elida Peers | Contributed Learning recently of the passing of Sven Johansson,… Continue reading

Residents in B.C. city could face 133% tax hike in ‘worst case’ lawsuit outcome: report

An average home could see a tax increase of $2,164 in one year

Sooke’s EMCS Wolverines drop season opener

Parkland best EMCS squad 81-64

Many of Canada’s working poor can’t afford lawyers, don’t qualify for legal aid

One lawyer says many people earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to really live on

Economy lost 71,200 jobs in November, unemployment rate climbs to 5.9%

Jobless rate is at its highest since August 2018, when it hit 6%

Most Read