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

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Bear orphanage dealing with high number of cubs

Northern Lights Wildlife Society needs fruit and vegetables for orphans

Northwest Wave Riders return from Victoria Dragon Boat Festival

This was the first time in 25 years that northern B.C. teams competed

Feds approve $4M for Tahltan protected and conserved areas

Well defined stewardship will help nation reduce uncertainties for resource partners

BC Parks student rangers complete several northwest B.C. conservation projects

This was the first time the summer program operated out of Terrace

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Speculation tax forces sale of Greater Victoria’s iconic ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Man at centre of dropped HIV-disclosure case sues province and 10 cops

Brian Carlisle of Abbotsford says Mission RCMP defamed him and were ‘negligent’ in their investigation

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

Most Read