In the early 1870's the economic conditions in Quebec and New Brunswick Canada made it possible for the great wave of immigration to the United States
In 1875, Gardner was a rapidly growing town of 3730 residences. Like many other New England communities, it had developed from an agricultural village to an industrial center. The furniture industry was in the forefront of this industrial expansion, which made possible with the completion of the local railroad connection from Boston to New York and Western markets.
With Heywood Bros. and other furniture manufacturers expanding, the need for more workers increased, creating a demand for more immigrants from Canadian Provinces to Gardner. Records show that in 1878 Heywood Bros. employed 467 and seven years later, that number increased to 1300.
In 1884 with a French population of 270 families and its expected growth to 600 families, Father Solis was appointed pastor, to minister the French population. His appointment provided leadership in establishing the Holy Rosary Parish.
In June of 1885, the St. Jean Baptiste Society, through a number of events was able to raise the needed funds to begin the process of building a new church.
With the money raised, Father Solis was able to purchase two acres of land between Nichols and Regan Street for $1300.00. That land is today the site of the Holy Rosary Church and School.
With the growth of the Acadian presence in Gardner, it became apparent there was a need to preserve the Acadian culture and language; fifteen Acadians met in 1900 and began the formation of what became a national society. Fred Richard as leader of the group contacted Acadian leaders in other communities and eventually in 1903, La Société Mutuelle de L'Assomption ("Assomption Society") came to life, as a fraternal insurance organization. By 1935, this organization conceived in Gardner grew to eleven thousand members throughout New England and the Maritime Provinces.
As the Frence inhabitants of Gardner grew, they saught to preserve their culture; as a result, they established a community within a community. They first established themselves in the Park Street area, which became known as little Canada. As more Canadians arrived in the town, an other strongly established French residential and business area flourished in the Nichols, Parker, and West Street section.
The Nichols Street area with church, school, hotel and small shops formed the heart of the French community and eventually became the center of activity for both Canadians and Acadians who assimilated themselves within this comminity to become one.
In 1933 representatives of the city's Acadian community met and decided to form a club to protect its culture, tradition andlanguage. A place where members could meet socialize, play their favorite card games listen to, and dance to Acadian music.
In an effort to protect, its culture and tradition the group chose to name their new organization the "Acadien Social Club".
Lackin the needed funds to begin the process of forming this new club. each founding member donated $1.00 as seed money to get the club started.
The twenty-nine original founders of the Acadien Social Club are, Elie Arsenault, Camille Leblanc, Joseph Bourgeous, Henri Bourgeois, Leo Bourgeois, Raphael Bourgeois, Alonzo Bourgeois, Alber Vautour, Emery Cormier, Zoel Cormier, Alfred Cormier, Magloire Cormier, Simon Johnson, Jacob Bourdreau, Tranquille Daigle, Napoleon Daigle, Nazaire Goguen, Wilfred Gallant, Zacharie Richard, Joseph H. Richard, Patrice Ringuelle, Alfonce Poirier, John Trembley, John Allain, Medard Lavoie, Aurele Bernard, Anthonien Perry, Henri Leblanc, and Fidele Gallant.
The first officers chosen for the newly formed club were, President Elie Arsenault, Vice President Alber Vautour, Secretary Emery Cormier, Treasurer Simon Johnson.
In December of 1933, ten new members were added as original founders. Alfred Maillet, Camile Allain, Neri Bourgeois, Delphis Collette, Laurent Leblanc, Pierre Leblanc, Ernest Leblanc, Norbert Leger, Adelard Richard and Alfred Savoie.
This brought the membership listing to thirty-nine.
The first meeting took place in an old barn behind 34 Nichols Street, owned by Edgar Rumley. Not having adaquate funds to establish a new club, Mr. Rumley allowed the group to use the barn for $4.00 a month.
The club used the barn as a meeting place for two years and relocated to better facilities in a building, located in front of 34 Nichols Street.
On May 27,1935 Frederic W. Cook, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, issued a certificate of corporation under the name of "Acadien Social Club" for the purpose of promoting social welfare, athletics, religious and moral welfare of its members.
The names of the first incorporators inscribed on the certificate are, Elie Arsenault, Joseph H. Richard, Emery Cormier, Alber Vautour, Raphael Bourgeois, Fidele Gallant, Alyre Cormier, Ernest Collette and Henri Bourgeois.
Thirteen years after its inception the club membership grew to such an extent that it outgrew its present location and in 1946 a five-member committee was formed to identify a new location the club would consider buying. After a lengthy search, the new building committee members recommended the club enter into a purchase agreement with Donat Danault to purchase his property located at 191-193 Parker Street known as the Danault Garage for $14000.00. The purchase agreement became effective on February 26, 1946.
Three years later on April 18, 1949 they added the next-door property at 195 Parker Street owned by Charles and Mary Kazunas for $5000.00.
On December 5, 1955, the club bought property located behind the club on West Street owned by Nelli M. Moore. Members are presently using this parcel of land for recreational purposes.
In 2008 the Club purchased and demolished 175 Parker Street, a two family house located next to club.
In 2010 the Club purchased Renolds house at 193 Parker St. The house was demolished to add more parking space.
In 1959 an annual scholarship of $1000.00 was established and awarded to one of its members high school graduates.
In 1974 to better adminster its affairs the club changed its system of 15 officers to the present 9 directors. To keep abreast of changing times and Franco-American requireents, the clubs by-laws was reviewed and changes made in 1955 and again in 1970.
The Laurent Leblanc family played an important part in the clubs growth and leadership, with Laurent Leblanc, as a founding member, his son Ernest Leblanc, Grandson Joseph Leblanc a board of director member and his son Ernest Leblanc a fourth generation member.
Today, the Acadien Social Club continues to flourish after more than 75 years of service to the community and its members. We proudly look to past accomplishments as we continue to prescribe to our founder's motto of "Unity, Charity and Fraternity".
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