Greenwood, B.C., Canada, 1939 – let the story begin.
After an arduous day of work, a small group of men sat together in a pipe and cigar smoke-filled room chatting about what they could do for themselves as well as other veterans of the First World War.
In a time of world conflict, memories of the past were all too prevalent, as many young men did not return from the First World War. Many who did return did so suffering with life-changing physical and mental injuries.
The Second World War was upon the country. What could they do? Other cities, like Grand Forks, had branches of the Royal Canadian Legion, and Greenwood did not.
Okay, some of the preceding paragraph is fiction but what follows is fact:
As Greenwood has always been, and still is, a progressive city, these dedicated men made the decision to submit to “Canadian Legion” of the “British Empire Service League” an application to form and establish a local branch. The paperwork began.
On April 19, 1939 “the Greenwood and District Legion” received their charter.
A number of First World War veterans were responsible for getting the Legion started. They were: E. Berg, G. Hartley, J. Price, G. Emsky, J. Burnett, J. Keedy, G.G. Rowell, F. Maletta, F. Clarke, W. Kernashan, J. Rushmer, A. Ruzicka, M. Cockrane, J. Maclean, H. Summersgill, D. Young, B. Gane, W. MacLean, C. Walker, J. Morrison, W. Grant. P. Morris, R. Wolverton, W. Hassart, L. Murray and J. Acres.
That day was the beginning of 80 years of operation, serving Greenwood and the West Boundary area and all the residents thereof, without prejudice of race, religion, ethnicity, or service in the military.
With no Legion hall, they met at the Travellers Café. In the Late 1950s they bought the old Gem Theatre. A lot of work was put into the old building before it could be used. A new roof had to be put on and in time after a lot of volunteer sweat, they were able to hold meetings in one of the small rooms upstairs. Bingo and dances were held to try to make ends meet. The membership was small – Comrade W. Uphill was president, Stan Hall was secretary, and many meetings were cancelled for lack of attendance.
In the 1970s the building was sold to Paul Nytrac. Meetings were now held in the fire hall; poor attendance brought Commander Stokes and Steve Dundson from Pacific Command to see what could be done to “perk up” the Legion. A committee was formed and space was rented from the community association. Once again the work began to make the space useable. Renovations were paid for by the Legion dances which were held about every week; socials and membership increased. Though the years the Legion has had continued growth.
Past presidents include W. Uphill, A.W. Scott, P. Mellor, W. Hobnes, C. Madden, A. Heywood, J.B. Riddle, G. Anschett, B. Tiffin, M. Rivers, W. LaBountry, W. Rogers, J. Osborne, P. Lautard, D. Oconner, M. Logan, P. Richards and R. Walker.
While W. Rogers was president, a lounge licence was obtained and now operates seven days per week. For 80 years, Branch 155 volunteers have been raising funds. The addition of the weekly meat draw, held every Saturday; Texas Hold’em, every Tuesday; and, bringing in first-class entertainers and top-rated dance bands all help raise funds for the Legion.
Those funds have been and are presently donated to Cadets, Scouts, Girl Guides, Brownies, Search and Rescue, Santa’s Helpers, Hardy View Lodge, Greenwood Swimming Pool, Founders Day, Bereavement Assistance, veterans, widows, Christmas hampers, Lions, Terry Fox Run, Beaverdale First Response, local graduate students, minor hockey, minor baseball, Cops for Kids, The Manor (Midway), West Boundary Food Bank, Kelowna Veterans Transition, Rock Creek Wildfire Relief, Grand Forks Flood Relief, local BC Summer Games competitors, and the list goes on.
Although the Royal Canadian Legion was originally an exclusive organization for returning veterans, that is no longer the case. MIilitary service is no longer a requirement, membership is open to all Canadian citizens with every approved membership paying the same yearly dues.
The Legion is strictly a volunteer organization, donating hundreds of hours each and every year to provide a gathering place to relax with friends, both old and new, celebrating with entertainment all year long ,making life just a little better.
Coming soon: Allen Song, Harpdog Brown, Birch Pereira and the Gin Joints, Sister Soul, Sugar Brown plus a whole lot more including local entertainers.