New Legion pres­i­dent wants you! (to join)

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead

Last Novem­ber, Larry Cuer­rier was elected as pres­i­dent of the Stanstead branch no. 5 of the Royal Cana­dian Legion, re­plac­ing David Woodard who served in that po­si­tion for seven years.

Mr. Cuer­rier ‘re­tired’ to Stanstead about eigh­teen years ago af­ter serv­ing in the mil­i­tary and then work­ing and liv­ing in Toronto. “I grew up in Stanstead but af­ter I joined the mil­i­tary, I trav­elled a lot and did short tours in the United States,” said Mr. Cuer­rier in an in­ter­view with the Stanstead Jour­nal. Mr. Cuer­rier, who achieved the rank of Sergeant with the Royal Cana­dian Air Force, trained as a fire fighter for “Crash and Res­cue”, serv­ing on Cana­dian Air Force bases across the coun­try.

Asked if air­plane crashes in the Cana­dian mil­i­tary were a com­mon oc­cur­rence, Mr. Cuer­rier an­swered: “It hap­pens. I had to deal with sev­eral crashes and fires. Of­ten it was civil­ian planes that went down; civil­ians would use our air­ports, like those in Chicoutimi and Bagotville.”

Mr. Cuer­rier took part in a res­cue oper­a­tion sev­eral decades ago that re­ceived a lot of me­dia at­ten­tion at the time. “An air­craft that was tak­ing off from the Val-d’Or base was off the ground just twenty feet when an en­gine blew up. It went up and then crashed in the hills and bush just out­side of Val-d’Or. We got to the crash site in time and had to lead twenty-six chil­dren for about three quar­ters of a mile to a mile out of the bush and to safety. Ev­ery­one sur­vived but some of the pas­sen­gers had se­ri­ous in­juries,” re­counted Mr. Cuer­rier, re­mem­ber­ing the in­ci­dent vividly.

Af­ter re­tir­ing from the mil­i­tary, Mr. Cuer­rier worked at de Hav­il­land Air­craft, in Toronto, as their Fire Cap­tain and later as Chief of Se­cu­rity. “It was a large plant with 6,700 em­ploy­ees; Bom­bardier owns it now. But driv­ing through the traf­fic in Toronto – I was so happy to come home. I al­ways had in my thoughts that I would come back to Stanstead to re­tire. You just have to look around you – there’s no more beau­ti­ful spot in the world, even if the weather doesn’t al­ways agree with us!”

A long-time mem­ber of the Stanstead Legion but never be­fore on the Ex­ec­u­tive, Larry de­cided to run for pres­i­dent fol­low­ing the sug­ges­tion of a few mem­bers. “I wanted to see some changes like an in­crease in mem­ber­ship. We’ve gone to about one hun­dred and twen­ty­five mem­bers, from over two hun­dred, in just a few years,” he ex­plained.

Legion branches rely on mem­ber­ship for ev­ery­thing: fi­nanc­ing ed­u­ca­tional bur­saries and awards for lo­cal youth and chil­dren; pro­vid­ing vol­un­teers for so­cial events; car­ry­ing out Re­mem­brance Day ac­tiv­i­ties; pro­vid­ing ser­vices to Vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies, and more. “I’m not sure that the gen­eral pub­lic knows that any­one can now join the Legion. Be­fore, you had to have served in the mil­i­tary, but now any­one can join as an ‘As­so­ciate Mem­ber’. The cost is $45 per year, per per­son,” said the pres­i­dent.

“I’d also like to get more people to come out to our events. We have a Mother’s Day Dance, on Satur­day, May 10th, that’s open to ev­ery­one. We’ll have live mu­sic and serve food at the end of the evening,” said Mr. Cuer­rier. The an­nual Canada Day Bar­beque and base­ball tour­na­ment for chil­dren will take place, as usual, the Satur­day be­fore Canada Day.

“It’s a chal­lenge to keep it all run­ning and keep ev­ery­one happy, but it’s a pleas­ant chal­lenge and I think things will work out well. I’m look­ing for­ward to the Branch sur­viv­ing well and grow­ing along with the com­mu­nity and get­ting the com­mu­nity more in­volved with the Branch,” he added.

“Do you think you’ll be kept busy with your new po­si­tion?” I asked. “I was at a meet­ing just yes­ter­day about the up­keep of the Duf­ferin Heights Mon­u­ment. It’s al­ready keep­ing me busy!”

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Larry Cuer­rier, the Stanstead Legion’s new pres­i­dent who was elected last Novem­ber, is seen here at Branch No. 5, in Stanstead.

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