Royal Canadian Legion Kincardine MacDonald Branch 183 celebrates 80 years of service


By Pauline Kerr

An 80th anniversary is quite a milestone, and the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion is pulling out all the stops to ensure the celebration is a memorable one.

On Saturday, Sept. 16, noon to 5 p.m., the public is invited to an open house at the Legion Hall. Branch president Jim McDonald and first vice-president Bob Fletcher described some of the events happening that day.

McDonald said the branch has many articles of historical significance, far too many to be on display all the time. Along with the collections on permanent display, there will be many additional items brought from storage for public viewing.

At 3 p.m. past presidents and dignitaries with gather to cut a giant anniversary cake.

“We’re trying to get as many former presidents as possible to participate,” said Fletcher.

There’ll be 80-cent hot dogs, hearkening back to prices 30 years ago when the branch celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Also featured will be tours of the building and music from the 30’s – Benny Goodman and the other greats. Visitors are welcome to participate in the regular meat draw that’s taking place that day.

“A lot of local people know the Legion’s here but never come in,” said Fletcher. “We want to invite them inside to look around and find out about the many things that go on here.”

Copies of Fletcher’s book on the branch’s history will be available.

At a time when some other Legion branches are suffering dwindling membership, MacDonald branch, named in honour of D. J. “Mac” MacDonald, one of the founding members, is thriving. Membership is growing, and there are a lot of long-time members.

The lovely historic building that houses the branch, the old Ardloch Lodge building, is always busy. The pipe band holds practices there; the Air Cadets meet there; Community Living uses the hall. There are shuffleboard, pool, euchre and darts. Popular jam sessions are held every two weeks.

On Oct. 21 there’ll be a ‘50s and ‘60s dance to Little Peter and The Elegants – it always sells out, and the branch is looking at the possibility of a two-night event.

The branch sponsors a hockey team, many minor sports teams and contributes to just about every local charity.

The branch’s Catch the Ace draw is growing in popularity – don’t forget to buy your ticket.

“A lot of people think the Legion is just about veterans,” said McDonald. “But we support Women’s House, the hospital, hospice… Come in and have a look around.”

When the Canadian Legion of the British Empire was founded in Winnipeg in 1925, its main objective was veterans’ issues. Following the Second World War, the goal was maintained, and the Legion increased its efforts to support servicemen.

Wingham Branch 180 sponsored the formation of a Kincardine Branch of the Canadian Legion in 1937. The branch formed a Ladies Auxiliary in 1945.

Following the Korean War, the Legion became increasingly involved in community service. The Athletics Program for Youth was established in the 1950s and has been instrumental in producing some of Canada’s top track and field competitors and other athletes.

The Legion’s Youth Education program includes public speaking, poem and essay competitions right across Canada.

The Legion has never faltered in its efforts to improve the lives of veterans and ex-service personnel, and to support local communities.