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Croatia Hall celebrating 75th anniversary
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  08/31/2007 | Culture And Arts | Unrated
Croatians in Schumacher mark important milestone
Croatia Hall celebrating 75th anniversary

Chelsey Romain / The Daily Press
Local News - Wednesday, August 29, 2007 @ 10:00

Croatian Hall Society president Frank Sebalj is ready for the hall's 75th celebration this coming weekend. The society also hopes to increase its membership to keep the tradition and culture of Croatians alive in Schumacher.

Years ago, Schumacher's main street was filled with the sounds of celebration and traditional music that flooded through the doors of the Croatian Hall.

Today that sound is quieter, but the celebration of tradition and culture continue as families return to the area to celebrate the hall's 75th anniversary.

"There is a lot of history here," said Croatian Hall Society president Frank Sebalj looking up at pictures taken during the hall's earlier years. "But not a lot has been changed, a lot of the building is original."

Croatian families began arriving in Canada during the late 1920s to the early 1930s looking for work. Some went west to try their hand in the lumber industry, while others settled in the still young Porcupine Camp.

Once a theatre, a group of three Croatian men in Schumacher started raising funds to purchase what would become the Croatian Hall in 1932.

John Kovich, Joe Jakovac and Frank Banich finally raised the money and purchased the hall as a recreational place for Croatian families, and 75 years later it still belongs to the people.

"Every Sunday night there was a social with dancing, singing and food," said Sebalj. "At that time half the population of Schumacher was Croatian."

Today, the hall is not as lively as it once was, something Sebalj said happened when the "older people started fading away and the younger people were moving south."

At one time the society had more than 300 members, a number that dropped to 50 in recent years. The society managed to get the membership numbers up to about 120, but more is always better.

"We're really struggling right now," Sebalj said. "We have high gas bills and high hydro bills.

"All that adds up to quite a bit of money."

Sebalj said it costs about $20,000 to operate the hall every year and relies on rentals, banquets and stags to pay the bills.

Memberships bring in some money, but with membership costs only $25 a year, it's just not enough.

But that's not the way it always was.

Once the Croatian Hall took over the former theatre, plays were put on, Croatian dancing was taught and every Croatian child in Schumacher played in the society's orchestra. There were picnics for Croatian Day every July and a ladies club.

"It was a great place for Croatian kids because we always had a place to go," said Sebalj. "I grew up here."

The society is trying to spread the word to Croatians who may not currently live in the area presently and those who may be friends of Croatians who once lived in Schumacher to ensure the hall stays open for generations to come.

Only those with Croatian backgrounds can hold positions of office within the society, whereas, those who are not Croatian can still join and participate in functions.

"As long as we can maintain it, we're not talking closing yet," Sebalj said. "If we have to start borrowing money, we'll have to make a decision.

"But hopefully it won't come to that."

The Croatian Hall Society of Schumacher will be celebrating its 75th anniversary throughout the long weekend.


Formatted for CROWN by Marko Puljic
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www.Croatia.orgThis message is intended for Croatian Associations / Institutions and their Friends in Croatia and in the World. The opinions / articles expressed on this list do not reflect personal opinions of the moderator. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, please delete or destroy all copies of this communication and please, let us know! Or simply...enjoy and spread the word and good vibrations.

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  • Comment #1 (Posted by adriana vecarich)

    Iam adrianaVcarich,I live in Rosario, santa Fe Argentina.Ihave a great interest about croatian.My great grandfather was vecarich it was translated from vekaric.Its an interesting. place Iam to apologize you my english ts no so good.
  • Comment #2 (Posted by cheryl ann banich)

    i found your web page. My great grand parents lived there as did i as a young child... i still teach my kids the songs and words i remember as a child...
  • Comment #3 (Posted by Dj. Salty Sam)

    I was just wondering how much you guys charge for the hall rental for a night....please email back
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