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Ear Falls Legion Branch 238 turns 60

Fay Robinson was the first female president of Branch 238. She came all the way from Victoria, B.C. for the 60th anniversary celebrations. Here she is pictured with past presidents Bill Kay, Bill Coulson, Al Caldwell, and Curtis Webb. Photo supplied
Fay Robinson was the first female president of Branch 238. She came all the way from Victoria, B.C. for the 60th anniversary celebrations. Here she is pictured with past presidents Bill Kay, Bill Coulson, Al Caldwell, and Curtis Webb. Photo supplied

BY LINDSAY BRISCOE

In the fall of 1955, the Ear Falls Legion Branch was the 238th to open in Canada and begin serving veterans and the community; 2015 marks the branch’s 60th anniversary year.

Earlier this month, the community of Ear Falls came together to celebrate this milestone with a dinner and dance, which saw over 90 Legion and community members, as well as Legion dignitaries, in attendance.

“It was an honour to have members and their spouses attend from as far as Victoria, B.C. and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. It was especially important for this event to have the Sea Cadets, the youth of our community, attend the 60th anniversary. Their dedication and discipline impressed all of our guests and they stand tribute to our past and to the future defense of our rights and freedoms,” said Joanne Kay, 60th anniversary chair, explaining that the RCSCC Patrician Red Lake Sea Cadets Corps escorted guests to their tables and stood guard at the entrance.

Ethel Nelson, pictured with Ear Falls Legion Branch 238 President Curtis Webb, received her life membership on Oct. 3, 2015. Photo supplied
Ethel Nelson, pictured with Ear Falls Legion Branch 238 President Curtis Webb, received her life membership on Oct. 3, 2015. Photo supplied

The evening event was launched by a spectacular colour party entrance led by piper Margaret Baron, the Red Lake Sea Cadets, and a traditional colour party carrying the flags of country, sovereign, and branch.

The next day, community members came back together for a champagne breakfast prepared by the Legion ladies auxiliary. The clubroom was

then dedicated to seven-time branch president and veteran Roy Airth who passed away in 2014. The new clubroom is now simply called “Roy’s Place.”

Airth was incredibly dedicated to the Legion and held in high regard in the community for the many volunteer hours put into organizing events and taking care of veterans.

“He spent the better part of his life in service to the Legion in one capacity or another, first as a volunteer, then as president, vice president, etc. He basically kept our ritual together until he was no longer able to,” explained current Ear Falls Legion Branch 238 President Curtis Webb. “Some of the veterans who were going through hard times or living on modest incomes, he made sure that they got the essentials. He also championed getting the roof put on one of our old veteran’s homes.”

Roy Airth served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as leading aircraftsman of the 9th Construction Maintenance Unit from 1942 to 1946. He was later known by the community of Ear Falls as “Mr. Legion” and was the most decorated member of Branch 238. Photo supplied
Roy Airth served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as leading aircraftsman of the 9th Construction Maintenance Unit from 1942 to 1946. He was later known by the community of Ear Falls as “Mr. Legion” and was the most decorated member of Branch 238. Photo supplied

The Legion today

Both Kay and Webb emphasize the vital role Legions have played and continue to play both locally as well as across the country. They say it’s been a struggle at times to keep the membership numbers up and encourage new members to consider joining.

“Back when the Legion was formed in Ear Falls, there wasn’t a very large town, but there was high representation of WWII veterans and still a few WWI veterans,” said Webb. “Now, I think we have a few people who are ex military service and we have quite a number of police who come out to our branch, but the actual numbers of veterans, we just don’t have. We’re fortunate that we were granted the charter back in 1955 and were able to keep it.”

“Although the branch membership numbers are growing, it is vital for everyone in the community to recognize the Legion’s role and join, both to support today’s veterans and to keep alive a hub of community events,” added Kay.

Kay would like to thank the many volunteers who worked hard to pull the recent 60th anniversary celebration together, especially Darlene Coulson, Jenny Cowie, Matthew Barrow, Lucille Heithoff, Bette Donovan, and Curtis Webb.

Ear Falls Mayor Kevin Kahoot and his wife Giselle, pictured with Joanne Langlais, Kelly Renzullo, and Ben Renzullo. Photo supplied
Ear Falls Mayor Kevin Kahoot and his wife Giselle, pictured with Joanne Langlais, Kelly Renzullo, and Ben Renzullo. Photo supplied

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