Founded in 1935, the Australia-New Zealand Association was formed, with the purpose to meet and welcome visitors from down under, and gather together socially from time to time. ANZA continued their meet & greet, and social functions throughout the years, until the flow of visitors ceased due to travel restrictions brought on by the start of World War Two.
In 1952 the ANZA was revived but the nature of ANZA changed, and it became primarily a Social Club for Australians & New Zealanders living in the Greater Vancouver area, holding regular monthly dances/ socials at HMCS Discovery in Stanley Park. These proved so popular that they were increased to twice monthly, and ANZA introduced their Annual Picnic, and held very successful Annual Garden Parties.
With such rapid growth, it was decided by the Members that ANZA should get its own premises, where all records could be stored, work performed and activities held. In May 1961, during the reign of two-time, eight year President Graeme Robson, a Clubhouse fund was started.
After scouring the city, it was finally decided that ANZA would purchase the property that we currently occupy at 3 West 8th Avenue. After two years of alterations, renovations and acquisitions all of the many City, Fire and Liquor regulations were finally met and the club was finally granted a liquor license by the LCB.
The club now began to flourish. With ANZA Travel a part of the family, discounted flights/travel to Oz and NZ were a big bonus to members, and membership numbers increased astronomically. Bi-monthly socials became weekly, then twice-weekly. If you weren’t here by 7:30, you probably wouldn’t get in. Participation, special event groups, attendance, theme nights, The ANZA Players, Anzettes, Bar-B-Qs, Bowling, Bridge, the Camera Club, Car Rallies, Darts, Golf, Hiking, Picnics, Rugby, a Softball Team, and the Ski Club. The Ski Club proved so successful that the club purchased two ski chalets at Snowline on Mt. Baker.
As the nature of travel changed, and the group flight discount incentive declined, so did ANZA attendance. Most, if not all, of the original founding members married and started raising children, and while there were enthusiastic successors, they were fewer in number. The ski chalets were sold to keep the club afloat.
While the ANZA had always been sort of a family social venue, the turn of the century saw a sort of generational torch pass. The ANZA began to attract a couple of distinct new crowds. There came a night club kind of crowd, particularly on the weekends. The Pacific Bluegrass Society took up Monday night residence in the upstairs hall.
The ANZA has evolved into a sort of neighbourhood institution – much like the British “local”. The Tiki lounge in the downstairs part of the building is now a longstanding home to weekly events such as Darts league, Open Mic and Open Dex, all very popular with Mt. Pleasant folk. Upstairs is home to live music and DJ events, quite often hosting Gay and Lesbian community events, as well as African and Reggae inspired nights. But you never really do know what you’ll find in the upstairs hall, making it a popular destination for the adventurous!
We’re pleased to announce that we have recently renovated the upstairs hall, with help from a Cultural Infrastructure Improvement Grant. Thanks, Vancouver! Come and check it out if you haven’t already!