April 7th 2009, FPAM purchases the MOC House!
The house is again available to the MOC members.
Due to a lack of funds, it was decided to postpone the repairs on the house until the end of the Fundraising Campaign.
November 3rd 2008, Save The House Fundraising Campaign
Square dances, ski weekends, and steaming-hot porridge shared with friends are the memories that unite McGill Outdoors (previously Outing) Club members and alumni. At the heart of these memories is the red-roofed house in Shawbridge, which has welcomed MOC members continuously for 54 years. Yet this home in the Laurentians is now in jeopardy, as McGill University decided in late spring that it would not renew the MOC’s lease of 54 years.
Over the summer, members and local alumni joined forces to find a solution for the houseless club. Although the property was valued between $85,000 and $105,000, we successfully negotiated a purchase price of $60,000, reflecting the need for extensive repairs to the building. Two alumni generously stepped forward to loan the entire amount for the purchase of the house. A non-profit organization called the Fondation plein air de Montréal (FPAM) was founded with five MOC alumni as its directors: Ashley Wynne, Oliver O’Boyle, Valentin Eidelman, Amos Hercz and Gaspar Csete. The sole purpose of FPAM is to own the house, and to rent it exclusively to the MOC.
We have made a great deal of progress so far, and FPAM will soon be purchasing the house from McGill. However, many challenges lie ahead, as the club now faces the task of financing an estimated $50,000 repairs and making payments on our mortgage. Some of these repairs must be done before winter in order to prevent further damage, and these cannot be done without donations from our friends and supporters.
The MOC has always prided itself on making outdoor adventure affordable and accessible to our members. In order to buy the house without compromising these values, we are reaching out to our alumni and friends, and asking you to join us in the Save the House Campaign. Saving the MOC house is the most ambitious undertaking in the club’s history, but our goal of raising $110 000 is within reach.
Over the past few months, alumni have come forward and shared many of their favourite memories of the MOC house. If the MOC means as much to you as it does to us, we hope that you’ll consider donating. The house on Shaw Street has been an integral part of so many McGill and Montreal experiences. With your help, future generations of MOCers will be able to make their own Shawbridge memories.
McGill Students Outdoors Club
McGill Students Outdoors Club
P.S. To find out more about our progress on the house, upcoming trips and fundraising events, or to make a donation online, check out our website.
PDF Fundraising Letter
PDF Mail-in Donation Form
September 25th 2008, House Update 6
It’s been a while since that last update on the house situation, but we’ve made a good deal of progress.
For those who have yet to hear of all this, the MOC has rented a house from McGill in the Laurentians since 1954 to use as a base for hiking, skiing, climbing, and all-round having a good time. Last spring, McGill decided that owning the house was not in their interest. They decided to not renew our lease and put the house up for sale. Although initially not very talkative, they did warm up to the idea of cooperating with us, and we eventually agreed on a very reasonable sale price of $60,000.
We’re now at the final stage of sorting through the nitty-gritty paperwork and legal details involved with purchasing and owning the house. We should be the proud owners of the house within a few weeks.
We decided over the summer that our best option was to start a non-profit corporation that would purchase and hold the house. The Corporation, Fondation plein air de Montreal (which you may affectionately refer to as FPAM) was created two weeks ago, and is now officially a provincial corporation. Five MOC Alumni: Oliver O’Boyle, Valentin Eidelman, Ashley Wynne, Gáspár Csete and Amos Hercz, make up the board of directors. Two other alumni have generously agreed to front the entire purchase price as a loan. They will be paid back by funds generated by the MOC and its alumni over the next ten years.
The next step, of course, is to begin fundraising. In addition to the costs of making payments on the house, there are some essential repairs that must be done on the house within the next year, before we can move back in to the house. These will require donations from MOC Alumni in the near future and in the years to come.
In addition, the corporation is looking for a professional accountant. If any alumni are in this business or have contacts who they recommend, please send me an email.
Thank you to those who have supported us so far. While the last summer has been a difficult time for the club, the silver lining in all of this is that, when all is said and done, we’ll have a house to call our own and plenty of years of hiking, skiing, climbing, and all-round having a good time ahead of us.
July 24th 2008, House Update 5
Well, there've been some interesting developments in the house situation. In light of the amount of repairs required on the house, and the availability of other houses in better locations, the MOC exec decided that the maximum amount the club was willing to pay for the house was $60,000. This offer was submitted to Francois Roy, McGill's VP of Administration and Finance. After an exceedingly small amount of negotiation, the offer was accepted. This is good news for us. We now are in a much better position to buy a house than we were a week ago. Additionally, it shows a newfound willingness to cooperate from McGill.
Our plan now is this: The club will purchase and repair the house through a combination of loans and fund raising. 54 years of wear and tear have taken their toll, and two independent contractors have estimated that $50,000 in immediate repairs is required to bring the house up to standard. For insurance reasons, the bulk of these must be done before we move back in. This will likely mean renting a property for the fall.
But for now, be happy. Things are looking up. Though it'll take some work, it is looking very likely that we will get this house back, and there'll be many a night of body-bouldering, square-dancing, and/or mass-midnight-swims-in-the-murky-pond to come.
June 30th 2008, House Update 4
The MOC is going to buy a house. This is going to involve fundraising, either incorporating as a club or working entirely though SSMU, then taking out a mortgage to purchase a house. Having looked through the archives, we've concluded, unfortunately, that there's nothing there that should prevent McGill from selling the house, but there has been some level of cooperation on the part of the administration. McGill has offered to reduce the sale price to us by the cost of repairs, as estimated by a contractor, and the fees that they'd otherwise have to pay to a real-estate agent. McGill is presently waiting for us to make an offer before beginning negotiations with other potential buyers.
We are currently looking into how we can and should go about taking out a mortgage. We are waiting to hear back from SSMU on if they can back us with their credit rating, and if they're interested in working with the club in purchasing a house.
The other issue is fund raising. Before we purchase a property, we will have to start a capital campaign of our own. We are still trying to find ways in which tax-receipts can be issued for donations towards the house. More on that later.
June 14th 2008, House Update 3
On Thursday, a few members of our exec met with SSMU, to discuss our all the issues surrounding incorporating as a club, and the possibility of cooperating with SSMU in the purchase of a house. They did show interest in purchasing a property, to be owned by SSMU and managed by the MOC. While the MOC exec feels it would be in our best interest to own a house, it’s promising that SSMU is interested in working with us. At this point, it’s all very preliminary, and no decisions can be made by SSMU until their council reconvenes in September. You’re welcome to discuss your opinions on this on the forum.
Thank you to the people who have contacted us and helped so far. Now, more than any time in the last 54 years, the club needs the support of its members and alumni. The house has been big part of a lot of people's lives here, and we'd like to continue this tradition for a long time to come.
June 7th 2008, More about the house by Tom Newton
From left to right, are David Briggs, B. Eng '56, Brian Palfreeman, Bsc '55 and Tom Newton, B. Eng '56
The following is a letter Mr. Newton sent to Peggy Curran, author of the "McGill Students Outdoors Club turfed" article in The Gazette
Your article in this morning's Gazette stirred fond memories of my association with the McGill Outing Club and the house in Shawbridge. Here are some memories. I'm sure others will also send you their's.
I arrived in Montreal from Winnipeg and entered McGill as a second year Engineering student in September 1952. I lived in a second floor bedroom in what was then left of the once-regal Prince of Wales Court, on the north-east corner of Peel and Sherbrooke, overlooking the Stanley car wash across the street. My meals were eaten cold in the room or frequently at the Honey Dew on Ste. Catherine Street, less frequently at Ben's annex on the northwest corner of Peel and Burnside.
My first two weeks were spent in taking a catch-up draughting course for those who had not taken first year Engineering at McGill. I was 17 and away from my family for the first time and like many a student found myself rather lonely, not yet having met other than a few fellow draughting mates.
When the prospect of a lonely weekend loomed on a Friday in early October, I cast about for ideas as to what to do, and came across a poster in the Student's Union (the old location, now the McCord Museum), advertising the "MOC" and activities such as hiking, square dancing, rock climbing and skiing, and inviting one to sign up for a coming weekend barbecue at the newly acquired clubhouse in Shawbridge. I quickly did so at George's little wicket by the Union door and that evening caught the train at Windsor Station for the trip to Shawbridge.
On arrival I didn't need directions to the clubhouse, as a fellow wearing a battered Stetson was nailing an MOC poster up on a nearby telephone pole. The battered Stetson belonged to Byron Borden, club president. Byron introduced to me to other MOC'ers at the club and speedily put me to work with the others getting ready for the barbecue. The clubhouse slept the boys in old Army double bunk beds, while the girls were accommodated at Madame Boyer's around the corner or at other homes. Everyone pitched in in preparing meals and washing up. It was a great weekend needless to say and I made friends then who remained friends throughout my four years at McGill and afterwards. I was a clubhouse manager for several years and it was while serving porridge to a hungry morning crowd one Thanksgiving weekend that I first met my wife Sandy (Sandra, B.Arts '56).
We made good use of the Shawbridge clubhouse throughout those 1950's years, with only brief summer shutdowns. So brief that one year we stored staple foods, including a tub of peanut butter and a roll of bologna in the wood shed for the summer. On opening for the first fall weekend we recovered the peanut butter, none the worse for the summer heat, but the bologna looked a bit green. Never the less, being thrifty students and not overly concerned about the perils of food poisoning, we shaved the mould from the bologna and it served for sandwiches the next day, without dire consequences to anyone. We ordered weekend supplies from Pesner's and they were delivered by Friday afternoon train to the CPR station at Shawbridge. As I recall one time we borrowed the station baggage cart to lug a major supply load down the road to the clubhouse when a long weekend and many guests were involved.
Quite a few photographs of our activities in Shawbridge, rock climbing at Val David and square dancing at the Students Union appear in the '50's issues of Old McGill. F.M. Van Wagner and Jack Rabbit Johansson were Honourary Vice Presidents and frequent drop in visitors, or briefly joined us hiking or skiing. We youngsters usually couldn't keep up to their paces. Jack Rabbit lived only five minutes walk from the clubhouse. Buried in box somewhere.I have the MOC logbooks for the late '30's and 40's and for '52 to '56. Prices for groceries and for meals at the clubhouse are good for a chuckle!
Speaking of friends made those years long ago, we have a group of some 18 people who have met annually in the fall for almost 40 years, who we often refer to as the "MOC gang", even though not all attended McGill or were MOC'ers. Unfortunately we're beginning to lose some of these dear friends as death takes its toll, however eight of us still share those fond memories of the MOC and times at the clubhouse in Shawbridge way back then.
Thanks for article Peggy. I always enjoy your writings.
Tom Newton (B.Eng. '56, Electrical, Communications)
June 5th 2008, House Update #2
So, we had the meeting with members of the McGill administration - Francois Roy and Lydia Martone. The result was not what we'd wanted, but there is still room for negotiation.
McGill is going to sell the house. That much is certain. To whom and for how much is still very much on the table. The position of the administration was that they were previously unaware that they owned the house, and that they now considered it to be an unacceptable liability. We suggested that a years notice would have given us a reasonable time to react to this, but they said they were not interested in extending the lease.
There are exec meetings going on several times a week now to decide our course of action. Our primary goal is to ensure that the club has access to a property, whether or not this ends up being the original house. This will involve either incorporating as a club or purchasing it through SSMU, which would again become feasible if we negotiate a lower purchasing price. We believe that at the price McGill is asking, the house is unlikely to sell even on the open market, and, in any case, the MOC is entitled to a lower-than market price due to the considerable amount the club invested at time of purchase and the years since then. Making this point involves evaluating the cost of repairs and finding out about the conditions under which it was purchased, which the exec is working exceedingly hard to do. McGill has actively been uncooperative with this. That said, we're keeping all options open, including looking for a new property. Possibilites include renting a property until we find a new house, or purchasing land and building a house over time.
June 5th 2008, Resposes to the article in The Gazette
Here are a few links to responses written to The Gazette in reponse to the "McGill Students Outdoors Club Turfed" article (see June 1st).
Keep the MOC
McGill University actively encourages student activities
MOC was formative
Want to keep MOC? Pay for it
June 2nd 2008, MOC Press Release
McGill evicts Outdoors Club from Laurentian home
Montreal - McGill University has evicted its longest-running student club from its house in the Laurentians, crippling the club's operations. The McGill Students Outdoors Club (MOC, formerly McGill Outing Club) has rented the clubhouse in Prévost for the last 54 years, and serves more than 400 members annually.
In late March, the club received notice from Morton Mendelson, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) that the lease would be terminated on May 31st. The club tried working with the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) towards purchasing the property, but McGill's evaluation of the house was 50% higher than SSMU's. In addition, there are an estimated $50 000 of repairs required. The failed negotiations left the club with only 10 days to vacate the premises, although they managed to negotiate a one-week extension to June 7th.
The club had been negotiating improvements of the house with the Off-Campus Housing Office since November 2007. According to MOC Summer President Ashley Wynne, "the MOC has a positive relationship with Off-Campus Housing, and remains fully prepared to explore all options, including fundraising to pay for repairs." The notice came only 3 weeks after the club made substantial repairs, funded by a donation of more than $6000 from an MOC alumnus.
Although the University has not explained its motives to the club, in an April 7th article in the McGill Daily Mendelson characterized the clubhouse as "a luxury we can't afford." Bruce Glen, club advisor and member since 1980, questions the wisdom of so hastily selling off a piece of McGill's heritage. "It is hard to believe that this small financial gain will make up for the huge loss this represents to the quality of student life.
Students aren't the only people upset by the MOC's eviction. Serena d'Agostino, a prominent Prévost community member, also voiced her concern. "As a citizen of Prévost, I'm shocked to learn that these kids are being evicted from the house they have held for half a century." Matt Dobbs, an outdoor enthusiast, former MOC member and club Vice-President, current McGill professor, and Canada Research Chair, remains optimistic that McGill will recognize the value of the clubhouse. "The house in Shawbridge was my weekend home when I was an undergraduate at McGill. It is where students unwound and grew together as a student body on weekends. Today, it strengthens our bonds to McGill as alumni. The MOC clubhouse is a great asset for McGill to build the cohesiveness of its student body and nurture active, participating alumni. McGill's administration is filled with good people - I'd be surprised if they were to allow this important piece of McGill pride to be jettisoned once they understand its importance."
The club counts both students and non-students among its more than 400 members, and boasts an active email list that averages 1000 subscribers. The house is regularly used by other student groups and teams, benefitting a wide cross-section of the McGill community.
The club maintains a network of ski trails around Prévost that date back to the 1930s, many of which were established by Jackrabbit Johansen. The club is an active supporter of the Parc des Falaises project, which seeks to create an intermunicipal park in the area.
June 1st 2008, Article in The Gazette
Montreal's The Gazette wrote an article on page A4 intitled "McGill Students Outdoors Club turfed"
You can read the article here.
May 31st 2008, E-Mail "Today at the house"
Today was moving day up at the house. It went incredibly well. Thank you again to the 20 volunteers who came up to move all our worldly possesions into a storage locker (optimistically) just down the street, which has been kindly paid for by the SSMU (Student's Society of McGill University). We had cars, station wagons, and trucks (thankfully no boats were required even though the day was a little damp) and plenty of person power.
As I mentioned briefly on Friday, we have been given an extension of one extra week. This means that the house will be availible for members to go up to until next Saturday. HOWEVER, please keep in mind that the fridges, stoves, kitchen supplies, and the furniture from the living room and dining room have been moved out. Therefore please bring food that does not need cooking or else bring a camp stove. The mattress and beds will be left in place, and the plumbing is of course still operational.
Additionally, even though its our last week, if you choose to have a fire in the yard, please keep them very small- the neighbours are very worried about the proximity of the fire pit to their property and at this sensitive time we cannot afford to have any further reason for McGill to want to get rid of our house.
Finally, as addressed by Oliver and Daniel, we have been working extremely hard behind the scenes to implement a stategic and coordinated plan. We are trying to initiate discussions with the administration, and we are hopefull that they will be open to exploring options with us given the recent efforts of committed McGill proffessors, alumni, media, and concerned Prevost community members.
I appologise for not keeping you all updated more frequently. On monday, our official press release will be released to the media. It will also be posted on the website and please feel free to forward the link to anyone who you feel may be interested.
Thank you all for your patience and your support over the past few weeks,
May 31st 2008, E-mail "House Update"
The newly formed House Committee has been working hard over the past week. This email is being sent as an addendum to the recent update from our club President. Ashley is in Shawbridge managing the house move and is not available to send this herself.
We would like to officially announce that the following people have signed on as Regional Media Relations Officers:
1) Erica Lay (Past President) - Western Canada Media Relations Officer
2) Alex Taylor (Past Exec) - Central Canada Media Relations Officer (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba)
3) Gaspar Csete (Past Exec) - Ontario Media Relations Officer
4) Alyssa Holland (Current Exec) - Quebec Media Relations Officer
5) Rob Niven (Past President) - Eastern Canada Media Relations Officer (Maritime Provinces)
As the Media and Publicity Manager for the House Committee, Allysa Holland is responsible for the management of this team. In addition to taking on the role of Quebec Media Relations Officer, she is the point of contact for all media and publicity inquiries. Please contact her before engaging the media.
We would also like to officially announce that the following people have signed on as Club Relations Officers:
As the Club Relations Manager for the House Committee, Dan Hercz is responsible for the management of this team. In addition to taking on the role of Alumni Relations Officer, he is the point of contact for all club relations. Please contact Dan before speaking with any external organization, including McGill Administration.
Since Monday, the House Committee has completed a number of important tasks, including the submission of a formal letter to McGill's top management. The letter explains our situation, and asks that McGill join us in discussions that will allow us to identify a mutually beneficial solution.
We'll do our best to keep you informed of our progress by posting regular updates such as this one.
Best Regards, Oliver O'Boyle for Ashley Wynne
May 16th 2008, MOC Forum Post
As many of you know, after 54 years of owning the MOC house in Shawbridge and renting it to us, McGill has decided to sell the house.
They have proposed that the Student Society of McGill University buy it which originally seemed feasible from SSMU's point of view. However, given the McGill's high asking price and the projected repairs necessary, SSMU have decided that they are not in a position to take on the financial liability of buying the house at the current asking price. As such, the house will be put onto the market and McGill will either find a buyer who is willing to pay the exorbitant
asking price, or else the market will bring the price down to a level at which SSMU and ourselves will be able to reevaluate.
We are hopeful that McGill will allow us to continue our current use of the house until negotiations are finalized. This will give us a bit of time to explore our options. These include finding an alternative rental property until such time as we can either buy or build a house
that better fits our needs and will be more sustainable for many years in the future.
Currently, we need to start accessing the grapevine of alumni and interested parties since no matter what happens we will be in need of some financial help in the coming years. If you know of any old members, please direct them to our website so that we can start to establish an alumni listserv and disseminate information about current and future club activities. Further information about how to register as an alumni will be sent out as it is established.
Thank you for your understanding. the MOC house has been an integral part of many of experiences here at McGill (and in Montreal for our many members who are not McGill Students.) We are committed to making sure that MOC members have access to a house for many years to come.