South Burnaby Branch #83, Burnaby BC
A Condensed History
Compiled and Updated by Past President George Burnett
Branch #83 was granted a charter from the British Empire Service League dated 11th January 1927. The branch to be known as South Burnaby Branch of the Canadian Legion, No. 83 on the register of British Columbia. There are fifteen (15) charter members named thereon. The address of the branch was given as 2631 Marlborough Ave., Jubilee, via New Westminster. The President for 1927 was George Hitchen. Shortly thereafter the branch acquired premises at 3342 Kingsway, Burnaby, where it remained until 1962. Street numbering in Burnaby was changed circa 1958. Our address then became 5276 Kingsway. The Ladies Auxiliary to the branch was formed in 1927 when a charter with fourteen (14) names thereon was granted on the 10th June.
Over the years, as the branch grew and prospered, property in the 3300 (5200) block of Grimmer St. with two houses was acquired. One house was demolished in the summer of 1956 to make way for a parking lot. The other was rented for a nominal fee, to the Ladies Auxiliary for their work purposes. This house was demolished circa 1959.
Our next building, which many people today (2010) were familiar with, was erected in 1962 at 5289 Grimmer St. The Grand Opening of that building took place on Friday 12th October, 1962. That was the night of hurricane 'Freida', our new building was spared, there was no damage, the lights didn't even go off.
The Branch continued to grow through the next three decades, our membership at times reaching into the 3,000 mark, but then started to go into decline. An experience, most, if not all branches are going through. The Branch and Ladies Auxiliary and members throughout all those years were dedicated to the purposes of the Legion, donating tens of thousands of dollars each year, to Veterans and their dependants, community and youth groups, sports etc. and is still ongoing.
Shortly after that building opened the charter for #637 Arrow Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, was transferred to our branch. We still sponsor the squadron. We also sponsor the City of New Westminster Pipe Band and a mixed league softball team.
The branch sponsored many happy times too for members and guests; annual picnic days with all its fun and sometimes strenuous activities, Christmas parties for the kids (young and old), Vimy night for the WW1 vets. Who can remember the Monday night entertainment? Who can forget? With groups like Taller O'Shea, Chief Dan George's Troupe, Evan Kemp, Frank McCormack and others too numerous to mention. Another milestone was reached in 2003 when the members elected our first lady President Stephanie Watts.
In 2000 a building committee was established to look at the future prospects of our premises. The building had become too expensive to maintain and our membership and patronage had fallen well below what was required to keep it going. It was also too big for our purposes now. Many avenues were looked at and discarded before we presented the members with a plan, to build a new facility on our site. The new building when complete will contain seventy (70) suites of assisted living accommodation for seniors. It will also include a new canteen ('Club 83').
The old premises closed in February 2008 and were demolished shortly thereafter. Construction on our new facility is currently underway and we are looking at door opening, for both, living quarters and Club 83, in early September 2010.
We look forward to re-establishing our meat draws, 50/50 draws, cribbage, live music for dancing, pool, shuffleboard, darts and any other entertainment or activities our members would like to have included. In the interim period, the management at the Firefighters Clubs gave us a warm welcome, room and time to hold meetings, carry on with our Monday night cribbage and generally carry on with our usual business. We thank them very much for this consideration.
The Mission of the Royal Canadian Legion is to serve Veterans and their dependants, to promote remembrance, and to act in the service of Canada and its communities.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Legion in British Columbia and the Yukon:
- raises in excess of $3 Million annually to support community health, social and educational program, to improve the quality of life for all citizens.
- is the largest non-profit provider of veteran and seniors housing with over 4,000 units and numerous developments underway.
- is a longstanding and significant contributor to the BC Seniors Games.
- volunteers in excess of 137,000 hours in communities supporting health, social, educational and athletic programs.
- the annual Poppy Campaign raises approximately $3.6 million with all proceeds going to support veterans, ex-servicemen of the Canadian Forces, and their families.
- provides bursaries and scholarships in excess of $250,000 annually.
- contributes in excess of $405,000 for critical medical research and special medical equipment in health care facilities.