WINCHESTER – The Royal Canadian Legion Winchester Branch 108 has a long history of proudly supporting veterans in the community.
This year, the village branch celebrates its 90th anniversary, making it one of the oldest branches still standing in Eastern Ontario.
When the First World War came to an end, numerous veterans’ groups and regimental associations representing former service members were created. The Royal Canadian Legion was founded in 1925 in order to have one organization that could provide support to everyone who had served for their country.
The local legion was established on October 26, 1927 as a branch of the national organization, as well as the British Empire Service League.
It immediately provided support to the local veterans and widows of the First World War, and eventually to those who served in the Second World War and the Korean War.
As the years have progressed, Winchester’s legion has been providing support to veterans of more recent conflicts.
The branch purchased its current premises on Main Street in February 1952. In 1975, an addition to the location was built, which includes the current bar area, basement, and kitchen.
The legion also commemorated the twinning of the local branch with the Winchester (England) Branch of the Royal British Legion on July 21, 1990.
Since the beginning, there have been 26 past presidents who served at the branch, leading the charge in the community.
“Supporting veterans has been our principal objective since inception and we will continue to do so today and every day forward,” said current president Janet Morris. “We are also active in the local community and continue to promote remembrance through our youth.”
The 90th anniversary celebration was recognized during a ceremony last month where long-serving members were presented with pins to commemorate their dedication to the branch. For some of the current members, the 90th might be the last milestone they will have a chance to celebrate.
This year, current members have been trying to raise awareness about its connection to the community, as well as recruiting new members to continue a nine-decade legacy that started from small beginnings.
“Members of the public are always welcome to come into the legion – you do not have to be a member to go there,” added Morris. “Should you choose to join, you honour and support Canada’s veterans with the membership, and the Legion Member Benefits Package provides savings on insurance, travelling, and hotels to name a few.”