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Both clubs soon added social events

Early years of predecessors Edmontonís Dutch Club focused on soccer

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

EDMONTON, Alberta - If you are a more recent arrival in the Province of Alberta, you may wonder how the Dutch Canadian Club became such a key part of Edmontonís cultural mosaic. Some of the older DCC-members will tell you, that it all started in April 1953, during the heyday of Dutch immigration to Canada, when young soccer enthusiasts banded together for regular games and fellowship. Fifty-five later, Edmontonís Dutch Canadian community regularly hears about new activities at the Dutch club but little about the early beginnings. The annual Dutch Market is but one of these. A brief introduction.

The soccer players initially met in a garage, and, seated on orange crates, organized themselves as a club, the Flying Dutchmen. Its team competed with other ethnic groups in the Edmonton Soccer League and soon attracted loyal fans among fellow Dutch immigrants. As more immigrants arrived, the club actively recruited new players.

It may have been an early case of political correctness, but the League did not fancy the clubís name since it sounded too aggressive. As a result, in 1957, the club renamed itself as Excelsior Soccer Club. It was not the only change however. In addition to soccer, the club also became a social club to accommodate the wives, girlfriends and young families who wanted a venue for a range of activities, from dances to bazaars and more.

Meanwhile, in Jasper Place, just west of the city, another group of young Dutchmen organized themselves as a soccer club, named AJAX, after the famed Amsterdam soccer club. Although much more modest Alberta group, also had a two-pronged approach to its agenda, sports as well as social activities. The latter rated as important as the former.

There always has been strength in numbers. It is not surprising that this was recognised in Edmonton as well. The two clubs decided to merge in 1968 to become Edmonton United Sports and Social Club and then embarked on realizing their own building so it could set its own dates and avoid paying rent for every their social event. The City of Edmonton provided the club with a suitable and rent-free plot of land where they could erect a building and have a soccer field. With the help of many volunteers and some very hard work the building became a reality.

When 25 years after the original start it was concluded that the emphasis had shifted to a more social and cultural agenda, it was decided to change the unwieldy name to Dutch Canadian Club. Since November 29, 1977, the club with that identity has become a fixture in the Albertan Dutch Canadian community. Interestingly, the man who was president of DCC in 1977 recently re-emerged as the 2007 figure head again.

DCC has a liquor licence and the new clubroom is a very busy place with billiard players during the week and members and guests socializing on Friday nights. DCC also became involved in Edmontonís cultural agenda and participates in the Heritage Festival. As well, it represents the Dutch Canadian community in a range of events in the city.

The decision to build the facilities has been a good one but not without some issues. One that took a deep breath was the Cityís decision to abandon its policy of rent-free property. DCC could purchase it or lose its building. They purchased it.

The building has been renovated in recent times and accommodates five Scandinavian groups and their events as well. The vision of earlier generations of club directors helped make what DCC is today, from humble beginnings to a first class organization of which the Albertan Dutch Canadians can be proud.