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Telling the story of Floradale, then and now

Floradale has seen more than a few changes in recent years. Now there’s a publication documenting the transformation.

A project of the Floradale Mennonite Church newsletter committee, the 40-page booklet entitled “Floradale Then and Now” was created as a fundraiser for MennoHomes, which this year is building two homes in Elmira to provide affordable housing for low-income families.

To date the sale of the booklet has raised $850 for the charity.

The project began as the church’s committee was planning the 2010 spring issue of its newsletter, ‘Focus on Floradale.’

HISTORICAL VIEW Barb Draper, editor of "Floradale Then and Now," looks over the booklet at her home in Elmira. Proceeds from the sales of the booklet are going to MennoHomes.

“We were going to feature the new Floradale school in our letter,” said Barb Draper, editor of the booklet. “Then we realized that the community had changed quite a bit in the last five years with the new church, fire hall, Parkview Manors and new businesses, so we decided to do something a little more permanent.”

Draper was a little apprehensive about the project at first.

It wasn’t until May 2010 when she visited Ruth Burkhart, the village historian, and discovered there was a considerable amount of information collected about Floradale over the years that she knew the project could be completed.

“I got a lot of information from (Burkhart) about the churches, the stores, and when I saw that and she was willing to share it with us then I thought ‘OK, we can do this,’” said Draper. “Most of the words in the booklet come directly from (Burkhart) or clippings from the local newspapers that she had kept.”

Along with Burkhart’s research, Draper used Allen D. Martin’s old preserved photographs to show the contrast between the village from the past to the community that is there today.

“There are many old and new photos in the booklet that tell the story of how Floradale has grown and changed over the years,” said Draper. “I went through town to take the photos for the now part.”

Once the booklets went on sale the committee soon realized a second printing was required.

“We sold through the first 100 copies in a month and had another 100 printed and have almost sold out of those so we had another 75 made,” said Draper.

Deciding what was to be included in the booklet was a bit of a challenge.

“There are a few houses and families featured, but most of the stories are about the churches, the school, the park, and the businesses. There is also a page featuring four paintings of local scenes done by four artists from the village of Floradale.”

The books are available for $15 from Hillcrest Bakery, Bonnie Lou’s Café, Floral Fusion or Floradale Mennonite Church.

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