I would like to take this opportunity to welcome everyone. Hope everyone had a safe and pleasant journey.
I wonder if I could possibly interest you into taking a few moments to read about my conception and birth.
If you have not yet realized who I am, I am The Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 609.
The satellite city of Bramalea was definitely not as it is today. It consisted of the “A” section and part of the “B” section, the starting of a rose within the Township of “Chinguacousy. Bramalea was bounded to the south by Malton, to the east by Toronto Gore, to the west by the town of Brampton, and to the north by the village of Bolton.
My conception started in the hearts and minds of three men David Drysdale, Greg MacGregor (deceased) and Gary Friel (deceased). These three gentlemen were members of Malton Br 528, at the time.
Some inquires were made at Provincial Command, a great deal of advice was forth coming but no monetary assistance. They were advised to circulate pamphlets in Bramalea to notify residents of their intentions. With much enthusiasm they processed to print and copy letters, which was not as easy to do as it is today, as copiers were few and far between. They managed to produce 300 copies which now had to be delivered. My founding fathers and their families got busy and delivered them. The notices informed residents of the intentions of forming a Legion branch and anyone interested was to attend the meeting at Balmoral Public School on June 13, 1965.
The meeting was called to order under the title of the Bramalea Veterans Association, Provincial Command was represented by Mr. R Cleaver, Field Supervision, Major J.H. Adams, provincial President, Mr. W.A. Casewell, J.P. and Mr. David Caperauld, Zone Commander of Zone B-7.
A motion was made by Mr. J. McCormach and seconded by Mr. G Friel that my name would be:
ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION, BRANCH ----, BRAMALEA, ONTARIO
There were nineteen ex-service personnel in attendance: J. McCormach, H. Fisher, B. Proter, D. Foarty, B. Hogg, J. Mennie, S. Shunk, J. Hurley, Elsaacs, S. Browning, C. LaChapelle, T. Kerfoot, H. Isaccs, G. MasGregor, G. Friel, D. Drysdale, G. Miller, K. Locke, and G. Parker.
The first officers were elected on June 13, 1965:
President Mr. H. Isaacs
Vice-President: G. MacGregor
Treasurer: G. Fiel
Secretary: D. Drysdale
Committee Members: G. Miller, K. Locke, G. Parker
On July 25, 1965, Zone Commander David Caperauld presented our charter and I was officially born: ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION, BRAMALEA BRANCH 609, (YEAH)
The charter was presented at Royal Canadian Legion Brampton Branch 15, whose assistance and support was really appreciated at the time, as it is today. I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the Royal Canadian Legion Malton Branch 528, which really helped tremendously with my birth.
I was on my way, Bramalea Legion (has a nice ring, doesn’t it) was formed; however there was no place to hold meetings. Secretary Dave Drysdale offered the use of his basement for monthly and executive meetings, and also as the official mailing address.
Naturally, members would like to have refreshment after the meetings, so an old wooden cupboard with one drawer and enough room to hold two cases of beer was brought into service as a bar, and a money box was used as a cash register. Beer was sold for .35 cents per bottle and any profits were put into the bank to start the first account. This went on for approximately four months.
After growing out of the basement, they rented a small restaurant on Highway #7; actually it was half of a Supertest gas station fondly remembered as “THE GREASE PIT” (fun type place). This was a big move for Branch 609 as our little room with 7 tables and 21 chairs, an old oil stove that didn’t work most of the time, pet mice and a juke box that didn’t take money but if you kicked it in the right place it would play.
The rent was fifty dollars a month, which we didn’t have. However, with a little luck and a used shuffleboard, we bought from the Malton Legion for the sum of $1.00; we survived and actually made enough money for the next month’s rent.
In order for me (Legion) to be successful we needed dedicated and honest people. This small place would only hold about 30 people. There was no liquor license and no prospect of getting one as there were no toilets (only an outhouse) or running water. When the ladies would accompany their husbands to the so called branch, and they needed to use the facilities they would jump into their cars and head for the closest members home. Being good members of the community, they never sold beer. They bought and stocked it ( a 24 If Labatt’s Blue sold for $3.65 in 1965 according to their archive department) if you wanted a beer you could donate .35 cents per bottle or put in an I.O.U for the amount you wanted to pay and pay at the end of the week, with this we never lost money. In order to buy a case of beer, you had to fill out a form at the beer store. One case was okay, however we were buying 5 cases each time. Doug Fogarty had a station wagon, and a book of permits and every member had to sign a permit so that we could get our refreshments. After a few trips to the beer store, Doug decided to build a cupboard to store the beer in. He did a very nice job and it even had a padlock, however, we could not fasten it to the wall or to the floor so all you had to do was pull it out from the wall if you wanted a different brand. Our beer cooler was an old Coca-Cola cooler with water in the bottom. After a while all you could see were labels floating about. We still had the tin box for the money, and the I.O.U’s.
I could go on forever recalling all the problems and mishaps we had, but the word seemed to get out, there was a new Legion in Bramalea and we started to get a few new members. You have to remember at this time, there was no such thing as men and women, but the women were not too keen about our facilities. We never had too many female applicants. The wives of the members always came to our aid when we rented a hall for a dance or other functions; they made the meals at home and bought it to the hall. It was the ladies dedication and hard work that brought forth our Ladies Auxiliary, which was formed in 1968. (They just celebrated their 45th Anniversary on November 28, 2003; and were that a party).
Approximately a year after my birth, Branch 609 had about a hundred members and no place to put them should they all show up at once. So, once again, we set up a committee to look for property to purchase. The committee members were; Paul Ambrose, Bill Blythe, John Ninnie and Jim West. They negotiated for the property where I sit today. It was necessary at that time for all members who could manage it, to buy a bond at the interest of 7 ½% per annum, with the minimum bond being $50.00, with interest coupons attached in the amount of $1.88 which could be held until maturity in a year, or cashed in at the local T.D. Bank.
They brought the property on Highway #7, just west of Dixie Road. It consisted of 5 ½ acres and a two bedroom house with a breezeway, and compared to the “Grease Pit” it was huge. What a treat, we had a basement and lots of running water; in fact every time it rained there was basement full of water. The members spent lots of time cleaning out the basement.
To meet the L.C.B.O standards walls had to be torn down, a fireplace taken out and an extra washroom installed. In the first nine months there was not a penny made in the branch except for raffles and holding dances in other halls. Eventually, a liquor license was obtained and the membership soared and this created another problem….THE PLACE WAS AGAIN TO SMALL!!!!!!
Here we go again, another committee formed to get costs for a building a new club room and banquet facilities. At the time, they could not see any possibility of building a new hall. A feasibility study was done by one of the members and the results were, with a membership of 192 and a population of 30,000, Bramalea could not support a Legion Branch. Somehow or another, Branch 609 contracted for a new club room and banquet hall and this is where I sit today. My current home was opened on October 3, 1973 by Premier Bill Davis, Brampton Major Jim Archdekin, various other dignitaries, Zone and Disrict Commanders and, of course Branch 15 Colour Party and the Pipes and Drums of the Lorne Scots.
Sometimes people say “if walls could only talk”, well I have, I have told you a little about my conception and birth.
Now, let me tell you a little about us today, we consist of 840 Member s (60 Ordinary Vets, 204 Ordinary members, 401 Associate, 165 Affiliate and 9 life members). We support three Cadet Corp, track and field, baseball, soccer and hockey teams. Contributions are made to the Heart and Stroke, Brain Injury Association, Easter Seals, Kidney foundation, Children’s Wish Foundation and the Cancer Society to which we have donated a van to enable them to transport patients to and from treatments.
One of the many projects that we are very proud of is our annual Christmas visit to Sunnybrook Hospital. The branch members donate money throughout the year in a collection box in the club room and also direct donations (monetary and gift) to our fund. Our Ladies Auxiliary have a “Quarter” collection every meeting, the money raised covers the purchase of personal items for the Veterans. Christmas of 2003 we (I should say Sanaa) delivered approximately 300 gifts to the Veterans at Sunnybrook. Once a year we arrange an outing for some of our Veterans, an early supper and entertainment.
The Ladies Auxiliary has 94 members and 19 life members, 4 of which are charter member. On most Friday nights, Saturdays and Saturday nights our kitchen is just a buzz of activity catering weddings, birthday and anniversary parties as well as banquets. Our Auxiliary is a very significant part of our branch. The members of the auxiliary not only take care of the activities in the banquet had, but get very involved in volunteering to help any way that Is need. We are very fortunate to have this group of ladies.
Now, that I have reached my adult life I am very proud to be part of a larger body that is very concerned about the well being of our Veterans, as well as the importance of our community involvement.
There have been a lot of changes over the years, but the one thing that holds stead fast is the “FAMILY” that gathers between these walls.
Now on to our next phase, we are in the planning stage of building a multiple level apartment building on approximately 4 acres of land at the back of the Branch. These will be rental units consisting of one and two bedroom apartments, with a refrigerator, stove, a room for a washer/dryer apartment unit and screened balconies. There will be a lounge, games room, and a hobby room. A visitors unit will be available for a nominal fee in the case you cannot accommodate your visitor in your unit. There will be nature trails and landscaped surrounding. The chosen location is close to the small plaza and relatively close to a major plaza as well as on a bus route. These units will be available to our veterans, Branch members and then to our community. Congratulations goes out to the committee in charge of this as it is a major under taking.
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WELCOME TO THE LIFE AND CHANGING TIMES OF ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION BRAMALEA BRANCH 609
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