Singles meal club features fun friendship-finding feasts

MANITOULIN—The days are getting shorter as winter temperatures creep ever closer. With that comes more time spent indoors and, often, away from others. People, especially those living alone, can tend to feel strong effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) at this time of year. For Manitoulin residents over the age of 40, there exists a new option to meet people and stave off the winter blues: The Manitoulin Island Singles Supper Club.

“The ultimate goal is to create new friendship connections, and there’s always the possibility that something more will come out of it,” says Ardiss Fenske, organizer of the club. 

Ms. Fenske says the club started after she and other single friends either had bad experiences or no interest in trying online dating.

“There’s a few of us girls and we would get together and go to local establishments like the Anchor Inn and Legion branches, or to events like dances and such, both of which are few and far between, but there are hardly any guys coming out to these,” says Ms. Fenske. 

“I thought, if dances don’t really work here for the singles scene, how do we go about getting the guys out?” she says. “I figure they also like to eat, so maybe a singles supper club for ages 40 plus would work better.” 

She ran the idea past her friends who all gave it favourable reviews. They then sat down to begin planning and created posters, a Facebook presence, business cards and advertising in this newspaper.

“Without the help, encouragement and support from my friends Deanna, Gail and Deborah, I wouldn’t have taken the steps to get this club formed. We’re a great team,” she said.

The organizers agreed to start with a manageable meeting schedule and leave room for possible growth going forward.

“We would meet monthly to start, perhaps more often in the future, and go to different venues provided they have the right kind of space for our gathering,” says Ms. Fenske.

The number of interested parties grew steadily and 16 members turned out at the inaugural supper on November 10. The full membership of 23 at the time soon grew to 32 members, where the group currently rests. Members come from all over the Island

Now that the days are getting shorter and winter conditions make driving more of a challenge, the group has switched to a lunch format. Ms. Fenske says the meetings are unstructured and designed to be welcoming for all people.

“Our get-togethers are casual. The committee members and myself do not lead the suppers or lunches per se; we encourage everyone to introduce themselves and simply engage in conversation while enjoying a great meal,” she says.

The format has clearly worked well for Ms. Fenske—she met her late husband at a singles dance in Sudbury and the two hosted many successful dances in the 1990s and 2000s. Ms. Fenske says she has also felt the impact of living on her own on Manitoulin and can appreciate the impact her club has.

“The winters here can seem long and lonely when you’re single, maybe this club will help with that in some way,” she says.

In the future, Ms. Fenske says the group will explore going to various events together, such as the New Year’s Eve dinner and dance at GG’s Restaurant in Evansville.

She encourages anyone who might be interested to contact the club and see what the gatherings are like.

“It’s just a meal with a conversation, a few laughs, and maybe you can make some new friends. We aren’t doing any matchmaking so there’s no pressure of any kind.”

More information about the club can be had by emailing or calling or texting 705-929-7394.