David Havard

Lest we forget: Royal Canadian Legion hopes to bolster ranks

As with other branches across the country, membership at the Smithers branch of the Royal Canadian Legion has dwindled over the years.

As with other branches across the country, membership at the Smithers branch of the Royal Canadian Legion has dwindled over the years.

Now a handful of volunteers are doing all they can to keep the legion and veterans part of the community.

The Smithers branch, first established on August 10, 1919 as part of the Great War Veteran’s Association, now counts only five veterans from the Second World War.

One of those veterans is David Havard, 89, retired field artillery signaller.

For Havard, the legion was an integral part of his life when he returned to Canada.

In addition to being a place where he could continue to share the camaraderie of his fellow brothers in arms, Havard, a former land inspector and agriculturist, the legion is also where he met his wife Rosa, a Captain with the British forces from Wales.

The legion, Havard said, was an important part of their lives.

“It [legion] was a very busy place,” Havard said.

Dances held at the legion drew big crowds even though there was a little extra effort involved.

“We had to pack the piano up and down the stairs,” Havard said with a chuckle, remembering the heydays of the legion.

Those heydays have slipped away as veterans passed away and fewer members of the Armed Forces join the legion and fewer volunteers step up to offer their help, Terri Steidel, who spent 18 years in the Canadian Navy as an administrator, said.

“This place was hopping, we had more than 300 members, but our numbers are dropping,” Steidel said.

“We now have less than 200 members on the books.”

To help improve their lot the Royal Canadian Legion opened membership to the public, which has helped a bit, but Steidel said they still need more members and more volunteers.

“Many of the volunteers are getting old, they don’t have enough energy,” Steidel said.

“It’s the same with the ladies’ auxiliary.”

Part of the problem Steidel said is the community is unaware of what the legion offers its members.

For example, in addition to the social aspect of the Legion, Steidel said the legion also sponsors high school curling teams, track athletes and some members undertake hospital and house visits.

The Royal Canadian Legion and ladies auxiliary have provided bursaries and donations throughout the years to various organizations both youth and senior oriented, she said.

As well the legion supports the Senior Games, youth sports,  Sea Cadets, Pathfinders, the Bulkley Valley District Hospital, Bulkley Lodge and the Spinoza Bear Program which provides stuffed toys for hospitalized children.

Further afield, the Legion Foundation also supports veterans in areas such as the Caribbean, where no legion exists.

Although the legion was in part established to honour the memory and service of veterans, Steidel accepts that these are busy times and people have other things to do and in the rush of modern-day life, the unfortunate happens.

“People forget we’re here,” Steidel said.

For information on membership to the legion or Ladies Auxiliary, volunteering, or to rent the legion hall call 250-847-5082.

 

Just Posted

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

Lego League provincial champions

Smithers’ Marley and Amelie are B.C. Lego League champions, and are fundraising to compete in Texas.

TSKLH Nation sues Province over Brucejack mine revenue sharing

The Tsetsaut/Skii km Lax Ha seeks to assert rights and title in the area around Pretivm gold mine.

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Most Read