Historic hall named after survivor of infamous ship sinking marks 100 years in Mississauga

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Published October 18, 2023 at 1:36 pm

Clarke Memorial Hall in Mississauga 100th year
Clarke Memorial Hall in Mississauga celebrates its 100th year. (Photo: Google Maps)

A well-used and historic community hall located next to a church on Lakeshore Road West in Mississauga owns a close connection to a man who survived the infamous 1915 sinking of the RMS Lusitania only to die of pneumonia a short time later.

In fact, Clarke Memorial Hall, at 161 Lakeshore Rd. W. in Port Credit, is named after Alfred Russell Clarke and the popular gathering place marks its 100th year this coming Saturday with an anniversary celebration from noon to 4 p.m.

According to the City of Mississauga, the community hall traces its beginnings back to the early 1920s when Reverend J.H. Dudgeon, of Port Credit Methodist Church (now West Edge Community Church), convinced Mary Louise Clarke (of Toronto and Lorne Park) to buy the property next door to the place of worship and build a community hall.

Clarke and her associates were then issued a building permit in 1922 and the hall, named for her late husband, was subsequently used for Methodist Sunday School and other church meetings as well as community concerts, court games, gymnastics, banquets and small gatherings, according to Mississauga historians.

Alfred Russell Clarke was one of 761 people to survive the May 7, 1915 sinking during World War I of the British-owned Lusitania luxury liner. It was torpedoed by a German U-boat in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland.

In total, 1,198 people on board the ship were killed.

Historical records note the attack took place in the declared maritime war zone around the United Kingdom and that the passengers had been warned before departing New York of the danger of voyaging into the area in a British ship.

The man for whom Clarke Memorial Hall is named succumbed to pneumonia not long after the ship’s sinking. He died in a London, England hospital, never returning to Canada.

Mississauga Ward 1 Councillor Stephen Dasko said earlier today at the city’s meeting of general committee that Clarke Memorial Hall is an important part of Port Credit and that this Saturday’s anniversary celebration will be an event not to miss.

The Oct. 21 event is open to all ages and admission is free.

“Join us in celebrating a century of memories at the Clarke Memorial Hall’s 100th anniversary event,” city officials said in an online public invitation. “Immerse yourself in history as we cut the cake, witness the official ceremony and explore captivating artifacts and photos from bygone eras. Experience the essence of Clarke Memorial Hall’s journey with a diverse performance schedule that reflects its rich legacy.”

In addition to Dasko, Mississauga acting Mayor Chris Fonseca will also attend the event.

Clarke Memorial Hall’s ownership and management were assumed by Port Credit Village in 1941, city officials say, and until 1974 the hall housed the Port Credit council chambers and municipal offices.

It also accommodated community functions of the day and remains a community hall open to the public.

The city notes that the hall stands out as a “landmark by its prominent location on the village’s main east-west street and by its uncommon architectural style – Spanish Colonial Revival.”

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