By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Remembrance Day ceremony still going forward Nov. 11
On Oct. 1, Vauxhall’s Royal Canadian Legion Branch 193 officially closed the doors of its building and Legion Hall.
“It was an enjoyable, very, very enjoyable place, but times have changed, our veterans have passed away,” Barb Bell, Secretary and Treasurer of the Vauxhall Legion organization said. “People have moved for health reasons. You know, it’s just the younger generation doesn’t understand near as much. So we are just one of the many that are having a terrible time. There’s no participation. The bills are too high. Laws have changed.”
Bell says that the Legion organization decided to close and sell the building after the committee held a special meeting for the membership that culminated in a vote to sell the property.
“We’re keeping our charter,” said Bell about the organization, which marked 77 years in 2023. “We’re still gonna be the Legion. We just won’t have a building. We don’t need a building to be the Legion.”
Bell says that according to information in a Legion history (Legion Alberta West Northwest Territories Branch History, 2015) the Vauxhall Legion was granted its charter on April 2, 1946 after about 30 veterans of two world wars in the Vauxhall District gathered in the CPR station on February 6, 1946 to discuss the possibility of forming a branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. With the approval of a number of veterans, the information states, the necessary applications were obtained from command and submitted. From there, two lots were purchased from the Canada Land and Irrigation Company.
When Vauxhall was incorporated into a village in 1951, the lots were split with the village so the branch could face both east and west. The shell of the first building was established in 1949 and funds raised and donated enabled one member, a carpenter, to finish the inside. The first addition was started in 1954, with others following in 1969 and 1982. The hall was added in 1993 and the parking lot was paved in 1994.
A very special tribute must be paid to the Ladies Auxiliary Branch that was formed in 1949 and received its charter in 1950, a branch that continues to provide invaluable support. Without them, the branch would not have been the successful enterprise it was.
The original branch membership was 30, but at one time it was 489. As of 2015, membership was about 270.
“When it was in the glory days there, you couldn’t get a place to sit if you’re on the weekends. It was busy every day of the week except Sundays because you weren’t allowed to open on Sundays,” Bell said. “And now you can open on Sundays, but we don’t have any people left anymore. The veterans have all died. The town has changed. The rules have changed everything.”
Despite the Legion closing, Bell says, the Legion organization will still hold a Remembrance Day Service at the Vauxhall Royal Canadian Legion Branch 193 Hall on November 11 beginning at 10:45 a.m.