Legion Branch 139 president Bonnie O’Neill speaks at Robbie Burns Night.

Legion Branch 139 president Bonnie O’Neill speaks at Robbie Burns Night.

Legion rich in lakecity history

This Saturday the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 139 in Williams Lake celebrates its 80th anniversary.

Sandra Abbott

Special to the Tribune/Advisor

This Saturday the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 139 in Williams Lake celebrates its 80th anniversary.

Researching Branch 139 history has brought to light some points of interest.

The cairn commemorating the First World War, Second World War and Korea at the front side of the Legion at 385 Barnard Street was originally situated in Gardner Park at the east end of the old Williams Lake Library that sat between Mart Street and Oliver Street.

Amidst the memorabilia in Branch 139 there hangs a large carved wooden plaque, an honour roll of those in our district who made the ultimate sacrifice in the First and Second World Wars. It was made by veteran C. H. Dodwell who was a notary, realtor and insurance business owner in Williams Lake. The plaque hung in the foyer of the old Williams Lake War Memorial Hospital (near where city hall is today) and came to Branch 139 when the legion was built.

From the minutes of the Village of Williams Lake council meeting: “A special meeting was held in the board room, village office at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, the 17th day of September, 1957, with Chairman Mr. H. J. Gardner presiding.

Present: chairman H.J. Gardner, Commissioner J.A. Hamel; Commissioner A. Smallenberg;Mr. Huckvale and Mr. Mason attended the meeting on behalf of the Canadian Legion and produced plans of a $25,000 building which they wish to erect on Barnard Street.

After some discussion, permission was granted to the legion to commence excavating pending deposit of plans, in the motion of Mr. Hamel and seconded by Mr. Smallenberg. Carried.”

Many veterans and their families are remembered by street names in Williams Lake: ie Bass, Blair, Cameron, Coxon, Cornwall, Collier, Blackwell, Denny, Dodwell, Pigeon, Woodland, Isnardy, Jacobson, Huckvale.

The Canadian Legion of the BESL (British Empire Services League) formed in 1926.

In 1960, with the Queen’s consent, it became the Royal Canadian Legion.

Branch 139 of the Royal Canadian Legion received its charter September 6, 1934.

Charter members were E. G. Woodland, T.C. Denny, R.M. Blair, W. Walker, T.G. Harvey, F.W. Gallagher, H.C. Richardson, G.S. Woodland, J.W.H. Fawcett, D.B Melville, W. Nicholson, J.J. Beesley, R.K. Wylie, W. Tomlinson, and C. Barber.

In looking back, the legion has been a major influence on the welfare of veterans and communities across Canada, dealing directly with the federal government, lobbying for better pensions, housing and healthcare.

Looking forward, the legion continues to support Canada’s military personnel at home and in overseas peace keeping assignment. With legion support, there are now facilities in B.C. to address post traumatic stress for our Canadian Forces.

The legion’s work is never done.

Remember to wear red on Fridays to show support for our troops.

Branch 139 celebrates its 80th anniversary this Saturday, Sept. 13 with a nice dinner and dancing to the music of the Williams Lake Old Time Fiddlers.

Everyone is welcome. Tickets are available at the legion.