The Gabriola Women’s Institute Hall has new owners!

Jim Wilson-Storey, President of the Gabriola Arts Council, is pleased to announce that the Arts Council board members are now the official stewards of the Gabriola Women’s Institute Hall. In a visionary act of generosity and community spirit, the members of the Gabriola Women’s Institute donated their building and property to the Arts Council.

The property—three-quarters of an acre and a building near the junction of North Road and South Road, and a stone’s throw from the iconic giant pencil—has been in the hands of the Women’s Institute since March 1967, when they acquired it for $250. Before that, the building served as an elementary school, a library and Gabriola’s first museum. For almost a century (it was built in 1927), this building has been an important community centre and asset. The Arts Council board intends to continue this important legacy, and to ensure that this Island landmark remains an essential location for community gatherings, particularly for arts- and culture-related events and programs.

GAC will initiate a process of structural and interior improvements to the building, based on the findings of a detailed inspection report completed earlier this spring. Priorities include a new foundation, upgrades to the electrical, water catchment and septic systems, installation of a heat pump, and—eventually—renovations to the interior that will allow the building to become GAC’s administrative offices. The Arts Council is collecting funds to help pay for these expenses, and will be calling on members and supporters for assistance of various kinds.

The building is currently used by a wide range of community members and organizations for meetings, workshops, classes and more. GAC will continue to offer the space for community-oriented purposes, and will honour all existing arrangements while working to ensure as little disruption as possible. Liz Steele, GAC’s Administrative Assistant, will manage the booking calendar which will also be accessible on the GAC website.

The Directors of the Arts Council would like to thank those who helped to make this important event happen, especially Gabriola WI President Hazel Windecker and Gabriola WI Treasurer Carole Phinney, and all other members of the Gabriola Women’s Institute, current and past. Madeleine Ani and Matthew Richards guided the legal process, Kevin Beausoleil provided essential accounting support, while Frank Shoemaker and Harvey Graham offered valuable advice. Manfred Templemayr was an ace volunteer researcher. Many previous GAC board members and staff helped to shepherd the process; Randi Lynch and Carol Martin made particularly important contributions. As with many successful GAC-related projects, Kathy Ramsey initiated the process more than four years ago with an enthusiastic letter to the Women’s Institute.


For more information:
Michelle Benjamin, GAC Executive Director | 250-247-7409 |

To book the hall for a meeting, class or event:
Liz Steele, WI Hall Manager | 250-247-7409 |


  1. Christine Purfield

    congratulations! Well done! It’ll be a great addition to the arts community on Gabriola.

    Many thanks to the WI for doing this!

  2. Laurence Blanchard

    Fantastic news, congratulations!