Hay River’s Royal Canadian Legion – Branch 250 – is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year and the people in charge say there aren’t any plans to slow down any time soon.
“One of the things we’d like to bring to light is how much this branch has given back to the community over the years,” said Tracy Cross-Gauthier, commander for the area including the NWT and northern Alberta. “This branch has changed a lot over the years and we want to highlight some of the big milestones and events.”
The branch opened officially July 1949, primarily to serve members of Canada’s armed forces returning from the Second World War. Like many across the country, it grew to encompass a community mandate as a gathering place for many different types of functions as well as an important contributor to local efforts for veterans and also young people.
For the anniversary, the branch will be hosting a ceremony followed by a barbecue July 26, beginning at 5 p.m. While the ceremony is meant to honour the essential mission of the legion and the people who have made it possible over the years, Cross-Gauthier said the atmosphere afterwards would be a festive one, complete with live performances and a cake.
“It’ll be an open house,” she said. “You don’t have to be a member to attend. It’s all about how important this branch has been to the community of Hay River for 65 years.”
New branch president Brian Morin said he is looking forward to the event and hopes it will be in the same vein as the recent Canada Day celebrations.
“That was a great time,” he said. “We’re hoping to get people out again and make them aware that we’ve always been there for everyone.”
Morin said that whether it was for services for veterans or events for special occasions, the legion has acted as a rallying place for the town for many years.
“We’ve definitely done a lot for Hay River over the years,” he said. “I guess it’s just about carrying on that tradition.”