Following the end of World War I, Canadian veterans banded together to form several associations in order to ensure proper treatment of the returning veterans and their dependents. One of these associations was known as the Great War Veterans Association and a G.W.V.A. branch was formed in Kimberley. This remained until 1926 when the Canadian Legion was formed by several of these associations joining together at a Unity Conference held at Winnipeg.
Following this Unity Conference, the G.W.V.A. branches were disbanded and charters for the Canadian Legion were issued from coast to coast. The Canadian Legion allied itself with the British Empire Service League which had its headquarters in England and the Legion, for nearly 35 years, was known as the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League. In 1960, Queen Elizabeth granted permission to use "Royal" and the organization became known as the "Royal Canadian Legion".
Kimberley Branch No. 67 was formed in December, 1926, with the following Charter members: James Bain, Thomas Henry Ellison, Arthur Moody, George Grant Cornell, Richard H. Scown, Edward Taylor, Arthur Bliss Longman, William Johnston, Alfred Richard Cockwell, Frederick Willis, George Taylor, George Noble, James Russell, Dr. Melvin Earl Tiffin, William Dawson Turnbull.
The original charter was lost and later turned up at a second hand store in Keremeos, B.C. The store owner thought it was important and con-tacted the Kimberley Branch in 1969. The Charter was returned and now has its deserved place of honour in the clubroom.
The Branch met in various halls for many years but had no place of their own until 1952. In 1945, the "old guard" decided that with new veterans starting to return home, a permanent meeting place was a necessity. The Branch purchased property on Deer Park Avenue and after a great deal of work, they converted it into clubrooms. It served its purpose well, not only for recreation but as headquarters for the new veterans trying to adjust themselves to civilian life.
In 1951, the old clubrooms were sold to provide the necessary capital to build a new hall. The following year the new Legion Hall on the corner of Spokane Street and Kimberley Avenue was completed. The clubrooms were built by the Fabro Construction Company and a great deal of volunteer labour. The building is modern and spacious and includes a kitchen, bar, games room and a well furnished lounge.
The Branch has continued to operate out of this hall and has served the community in many ways. Some of their many projects are track and field events, Air Cadets, scholarships, welfare, junior hockey teams and softball teams. They have also been an active member of the Kimberley Bavarian Society since its inception. ,p> A Cenotaph was erected by the Branch and holds a place of prominence across the street from the Legion Hall. The Cenotaph commemorates the Kimberley men who made the supreme sacrifice for their country in World War 2 and bears the following names:
D. C. Alder, W. R. Alder, C. Alton, L. L. Armour, L. J. Baribeau, G. W. Bradford, A. R. Bonner, N. W. Burdett, D. R. Gill, C. J. D. Greenland, H. B. Gunnarsen, J. H. Hall, G. F. Higgins, W. H. Keays, G. Levesque, G. W. Lindsay, D. H. Manson, A. Ordway, M. Patrick, R. J. Price, J. D. Rice, S. E. Ruault, S. Soderholm, R. M. West.
The Presidents of Branch No. 67 of the Royal Canadian Legion, 1926-1978:
1926-1928, W. Turnbull;
1929, J. W. Bell;
1930-1931, R. E. Robson;
1932, E. Taylor;
1933, T. H. Weaver;
1934, L. W. Bonell;
1935, T. J. Bride; 1936, Mungo Anderson;
1937, A. T. Richmond;
1938, H. Major;
1939-1944, A. P. Lye;
1945-1946, P. W. Willis;
1947, A. Nicholson;
1948, R. C. Henstock;
1949, A. D. Cocker;
1950, J. Ayres;
1951-1953, A. T. Richardson;
1954, J. H. Broadhurst;
1955-1956, A. T. Richardson;
1957, A. Hansen;
1958, A. C. Taplin;
1959-1961, H. J. Rayner;
1962-1963, A. C. Taplin;
1964, S. W. Wilson;
1965-1966, P. C. Thorleifson;
1967, T. J. Bardell;
1968, E. V. MacDonald;
1969- 1970, W. Twells;
1971, G. Luchanski and M. Volard;
1972-1975, K. J. Hogan;
1976-1977, K. 0. Smith;
1978, F. MacDonald.
The Ladies' Auxiliary to the Branch was formed in 1936 and has continued to be an integral part of the Legion over the years. The Auxiliary handles the Poppy Campaign every year, caters to all Branch banquets and strongly supports all Branch activities.
It was a tough decision and a sad day last Sunday says Mike Yanosik, of the decision that running the Royal Canadian Legion, Br. 67 building in Kimberley was no longer possible.
The Branch itself is still active and viable, Yanosik says, but it is just not feasible financially to operate the bar and heat the huge building. "Members can still renew, and if veterans need assistance they can still approach us," he said. "But it's just getting too costly, there are too many restrictions."
Yartosik says the Branch has been struggling in recent years. "It's just about since Cominco shut down," he said. "The average age of our members is 78, most are on fixed incomes and times are tough."
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