The Matawatchan Community Memorial Centre is known locally as “The Hall.” With the help of a grant, permission to cut trees on Crown Land and lots of volunteer labour, the hall opened in June of 1954 with a turkey dinner and dance with live music. The story goes that community members were still laying the floor an hour before residents arrived. Square dances and round dances with local fiddlers and callers continued until the 1990s, gradually evolving to include all kinds of music. Electricity didn’t come to this part of the Madawaska Highlands until the mid-1950s, so people made their own music.
To this day, no event in Matawatchan is complete without live music, a fact that has earned this community a reputation as the “Nashville of the North.” In 1992, an engineer’s report revealed structural issues, and council decided the building should be torn down. The community bought the hall back from the township fora dollar and, with the help of an Ontario Trillium Grant, brought their beloved gathering place back to life. In 2017, an Ontario150 Community Capital Grant allowed the community to winterize the hall so now the fun, food, music, fitness and cultural activities can continue all year round.