Randolph. As you drive by on the 206, it doesn’t look like much. Set in the middle of open fields, there are maybe four or five homes here, along with a church that’s closed its doors, a cemetery, and this… “garage”.
Your gaze lingers; your heart beats kind of funny for a second.
There’s something about this place. It’s not just a garage… is it?
The first time I set foot into Neufeld Garage, I was about 17 years old, and it was like stepping into a time machine. Everything was so old, so lovingly maintained, it exuded a kind of warmth that could never be manufactured.
When it ceased to function as a garage, Neufeld Garage was reborn as the Randolph Community Centre. Today, it’s the epicentre of community life… and a favourite rental venue. The atmosphere and soul of the place is incomparable.
Join me for a tour!
On the walls are countless photos and write-ups; fond personal memories, filled with heart. Here are some snippets:
“Pete (Froese) worked at the garage from 1961 until the doors were closed in 2008. Words cannot adequately describe his dedication to the Neufeld family and to our beloved customers…”
“They often took on challenges others could not fix.”
“Henry & Jessie used this (1949 GMC 1 ton fuel) truck for their 1952 honeymoon.”
“A meal after a funeral held at the Chortitz Church in October 1948 was the first community-type event at the garage. This was Ed & Henry’s way of helping the widow.”
“1972 – The flag goes down on the best school ever.”
“(Peter J.B. Reimer returned to Randolph from teachers’ college) in 1928 and related the following: ‘They were hard times because of the Depression. The salary went down to $540 a year and there was no teacherage, so we stayed in our Steinbach house. I had a family and soon traded our Plymouth sedan for groceries and I walked the eight miles to Randolph at least once a week, made my meals and slept in the school. They were hard times, but I enjoyed my teaching.'”
“Mid 1960s – rink and shack from centre ice… our beloved old shack (was) moved here in 1964 when the rink boards and other fixtures were installed by community volunteers.”
There are many photographs on the walls displaying the history, not only of Neufeld Garage, but of all of Chortitz/Randolph. Most villages in the East Reserve are now ghost villages. But somehow by the sheer force of will and community spirit, this place has continued to not only exist, but I’d say thrive, in its own unique way.
Neufeld Garage is like a museum. A gritty, friendly, cozy museum… where you can have PARTIES!
There’s something about this place.
It’s not just a garage.
That’s why we’ve chosen Neufeld Garage as the location for this Luke Jacob concert on Saturday February 9th. Luke Jacob is a folk singer, a songwriter, a blues rocker. His voice is very deep and extremely enjoyable to listen to. He is very talented, and the idea of sitting and hearing him sing in the midst of Neufeld Garage, is a very pleasing idea indeed. Word is, he’s bringing some friends to share the stage… including Sierra Noble! Admission’s twenty bucks and includes coffee and baked goods.
Coffee donated by Coffee Culture. Baked goods donated by Old Church Bakery. Also, there will be a raffle and silent auction, and the prizes are looking amazing (a certain handsome gentleman has donated Daily Bonnet mugs and T-shirts…).
Okay, so what’s going on here?
If you get the sense that this isn’t just a concert… you’re right. It’s a benefit concert for our dear friend Ashleigh and her family.
We’d love to see you there!
But if you can’t make it… you might want to keep Neufeld Garage on your radar for other events. So, so great!
Here’s the link to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/neufeldgaragerandolph/