Site of former wartime dance hall to be redeveloped

If the vacant lot at 5913 54th Ave. in Riverside Meadows could speak, it would probably belt out a big-band tune.

If the vacant lot at 5913 54th Ave. in Riverside Meadows could speak, it would probably belt out a big-band tune.

The empty lot beside a 7-Eleven has been vacant for a long time and went back on the market in the past year.

Red Deer historian Michael Dawe said Willard Trimble built the Cub Dance Hall on the site just after the Second World War broke out.

Trimble had an orchestra that played at dances three nights a week at the hall throughout the war.

“During the war, we had large numbers of military guys. On the nights they had off, they didn’t particularly want to sit in the barracks. They wanted to go out and find some activity,” Dawe said.

“(Cub Hall) was a very active social centre on the main road in and out of town. It was a very successful venture.”

At its peak, 1,800 soldiers trained in Red Deer, he said.

“In those days, Red Deer the city would have been 3,000. At one point with the people at the Penhold air base and the ones at the army camp, there were almost as many people in uniform as there were civilians.”

An air force base at Bowden as also in operation so Red Deer was a major military location during war, he said.

Trimble named it Cub Hall because he had proudly restored a Piper Cub airplane, Dawe said.

“He just finished building it and war broke out, and they didn’t allow the flight of private airplanes.

“He was grounded for the remainder of the war.”

During its heyday, Cub Hall was on a busy road near a coffee shop popular with truckers in a bustling area of North Red Deer.

After the war, Trimble sold the building and it was converted into a residence until it was eventually demolished.

Glen Goodall, the property’s owner and RE/MAX real estate agent, said the land has been rezoned to allow commercial, residential or office space.

He’d like to see a building with commercial space on the bottom and residential on the upper floors.

“I think it’s a great little property for a developer who wants to do something really unique in that area. Once you go up four storeys, you’d have view of the river,” Goodall said.

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