NOTL legion marks 90th anniversary
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 124 in Niagara-on-the-Lake has plenty of reasons to celebrate — 90 of them to be exact.
The legion turns 90 years old in 2018 and on Saturday, will host a community celebration at its 410 King St. hall. The event will include a barbecue and live music by The Rockets featuring Paul Wheeler.
“It’s open to everyone and it is free admission,” said branch president Al Howse. “It’s the same as what we do every year for Canada Day.”
The party is a celebratory start to a year that will feature other activities.
Plans are in the works to make some improvements to the landscape in front of the building as well as the gardens located near the memorial and a new flagpole added so both the Canadian and legion flags can be raised.
Plans are also being made to digitize boxes containing 33 cassette tapes that are important to the legion. The cassettes are recordings of interviews with veterans who detailed their wartime experiences. The tapes were made at the time the legion was celebrating its 60th anniversary, Howse said.
“Through our memories project we are going to build on our work to document the stories and pictures of our local service men and women,” he said. “There are many brave men and women from this area enlisted, and have stories and pictures to go with the adventures.”
The plan is to make the stories available to the public.
The legion published a book of memories in 1988 and plans are to update that as well.
This year marks 100 years since the armistice was signed to officially bring an end to the First World War and 25 years since Canadian peacekeeping forces repelled Croatian fighters conducting an “ethnic cleansing” of Serbian civilians.
What is now Branch 124 sprung from what was once the Niagara Veterans Association, comprising veterans of the First World War. In 1928, that group applied for a charter to the Canadian Legion of the British service league and on May 18 of that year the Niagaraon-the-Lake branch was created.
Since then, the legion has been located at several spots throughout town. It has been at its current hall at 410 King St. since 1967.
Membership at the legion remains “pretty steady” at 260 members, Howes said.
Weekly fish frys have also begun on Thursdays from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. One-piece meals are $8.75 while two-piece meals are $11.75. The party on Saturday runs noon to 9 p.m.
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 124 president Al Howes sorts through boxes of cassette tapes that document the stories of local veterans. As a part of its 90th anniversary activities, the legion wants to digitize the tapes and make them available to the public.