LEGION IS A PART OF LOCAL HISTORY
Branch 142 is celebrating its 86th birthday
this year. The Legion has been the centre for
community activities since its birth in 1927 when the
original charter designated the Branch as “Haldimand
County Ontario No. 142 Branch of the British Empire
Service League” until 1929 when the officers elected at
the first meeting were President George R.S. Wilson,
Charter President of what is now Branch 142 Royal Canadian
Legion; First Vice President and Treasurer William Robbie,
Secretary and Membership Chairman, Harry Gardner.
The first meetings were held in the Town Hall or the
Haldimand Rifle Company Armoury on Broad Street.
The first Legion Hall in Dunnville was on the third floor
of the Newman Block at 162 Queen Street. A few
months after the Charter was received in August 1929,
membership increased from the original fifteen to
eighty-eight. The Queen Street quarters soon became
too small to handle the many functions that were put on by
the Branch and in 1934 the second floor of the old Opera
House on Lock Street was acquired.
Fire gutted the building in 1937 when many of the
Legion’s records and artifacts were lost. After
utilizing the Armoury on Broad Street for a short time,
the Branch moved to the third floor in the Bank of
Commerce building on Chestnut Street. These quarters
were occupied until the present building, an empty garage
on Queen Street, was purchased and renovated by volunteers
in 1943. A commercial store and auditorium were
erected alongside the building in 1950. The Liquor
Control Board operated the store until 1981 when they
moved into a new store. The main floor was
completely renovated and is now used for bingo, in-house
activities, special occasion rentals and home to Harvard
Squadron 611 Air Cadets.
In 1972 an addition to the clubroom was erected and named
“The W.C. McCullagh Lounge”. It contains photos
and memorabilia of its namesake, artifacts of our Veterans
and the Great Wars and until recently, the old upright
piano. Every Wednesday afternoon, we gather round
the old girl (the piano that is) and have a wonderful time
singing the ‘oldies’ – come in and join us.
Everyone is welcome. Marie Glaves leads us all in
song and keeps us laughing with stories of her latest
adventure. Doug Elliot with his banjo has become a
regular during the summer months and of course Betty
McCullagh, who has a personal interest in the lounge,
entertains us with everything from Bach to Boogie!
Since the Branch’s beginning, there has been 54
Presidents from R.J. Wilson to Garry Frost at the present
who is serving his second 2 year term after weaning
himself in with a single term and whom we hope can
continue for many years to come. The Branch, under
his faithful guidance, has undergone many changes and
improvements. If you haven’t been in to the Branch
in a while, you may not recognize it. All the
buildings, inside and out, from top to bottom, have had a
complete re-do with many more upgrades still in the
planning stage. Your support at our special events
has helped to make this all possible. By the time
you read this, you will have heard about the great time
had by all at our Annual Valentine’s Dance.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the St.
Patrick’s Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner on Saturday,
March 16th and on Good Friday, March 29th, our famous
Perch Dinner will kick-off the season. Check our
‘calendar of events’ for all of our special occasions.
There is always something going on at the Legion; cards,
cribbage, shuffleboard, darts and 2 pool tables. We
have 2 of the nicest banquet halls in town available for
rent by calling the Branch 905-774-5942. Every
Friday Night is Karaoke following a homemade dinner for
only $5.00 per person. Take your ‘sweetie’ out
for dinner and join the fun. Feel free to
wander in, have a look around and join in the camaraderie.
I just know that you too, will want to become a member of
the Legion and be a part of the largest military club in
Canada and if you are a veteran, a representative from
Department of Veterans’ Affairs comes in to the Branch
one day of every ‘even’ month to address any concerns
that you might have. Call our Veterans’ Affairs
Officer, Cmrd. Murray Roberts at 905-701-1638 and he will
arrange for a one-on-one meeting with her.
A letter has just gone out to all Veterans that we would
like you to sign and return to Branch 142 that will then
be forwarded to our Member of Parliament to act in her
capacity to increase the support for funerals and burials
available to Veterans from the Last Post Fund. Our
Veterans and their families deserve to be treated with
respect and dignity for their service to our country.