The Founding of the WISE Club
In 1957, increased immigration from the UK left many new Canadians wanting to find a connection to their homeland. Peggy Campbell, the founding member of the WISE Club, left her name at a radio station and encouraged people to contact her to arrange a meeting. On February 28, 1958, the club held its first meeting at Lochdale Hall where the name WISE Club (an acronym for Welsh, Irish, Scottish, English) was chosen. Once the WISE Club was in its current location at 1882 Adanac Street, social events such as whist, dart, ‘smoker’s concerts’, bridge, picnics, dances, trips and holiday parties took place often. A WISE Club soccer team, Glee Club, ladies keep-fit and volleyball teams were also formed and kept the Hall busy in a flurry of activity through the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s, the WISE Club started up a dart team, a softball team, Beer and Loathing, and a hockey team, the Ultra Maroons, joined the ranks in the 2000s.
A Celebration and Performance Space
At the same time, the Hall evolved into a celebration and performance space for a plethora of political, cultural and artistic organizations, including the Rogue Folk Club, the Raincity Chronicles, and the New Democrat Party. Most recently, the WISE Hall was the shoot location & backdrop of Vancouver-native, and internationally acclaimed artist, Jeff Wall’s latest photographic artwork “Band and Crowd” in 2011. Pre-dating that, we owe the existence of our western mezzanine to the X-Files TV series, who insisting on adding it in order to compliment and add symmetry to our eastern mezzanine for a shoot of the episode “Hell Money”? in 1995.
Over the years, the WISE has had an amazing cast of Canadian performers grace her stage, including: The Odds, SNFU, The Supersuckers, Art Bergman, Ray Condo, Carolyn Mark, Paul Pigat/Cousin Harley, Neko Case, Little Guitar Army, Gordie Johnson, Rich Hope, Veda Hille, The Nervous Fellas, Lee Watson, Cameron Latimer, and so many more. In the 55 years since its birth, the WISE Club has witnessed an evolution of both its membership and its events, all the while remaining a landmark social club and performance venue in the east side of Vancouver. In 2008 The W.I.S.E. (Welsh, Irish, Scottish & English) Club was rebranded to The WISE Club, in order to reflect its diversification beyond the original UK cultural traditions and to embrace the entire east side, recreational, arts & culture community. Today, the Wise Hall is a space for the whole community to gather, perform and celebrate!
History of the Hall
The building now known as the WISE Hall was conceived in 1923 when the Grandview Methodist Church (now The Cultch) decided that a meeting hall and gymnasium would be a welcome addition to the area. The building opened on January 31, 1926 and became known as Gymbodian Hall. The Gymbodium offered Kindergarten for fifty cents per week and housed a bowling alley on the ground level. The WISE purchased the Hall in 1963, when it became the official meeting place of the WISE Club, which it remains to this day.