Stored away in the service office of the Royal Canadian Legion Prince Edward Branch 91 was an item hidden from public view for several years.
It was only until branch president Norm Scott decided to open the box, originally labelled “light bulbs,” that he realized the significance of the item.
Inside the box was the shovel that was originally used during the Langford branch’s groundbreaking ceremony at 761 Station Ave. on July 31, 1965. Well-known veteran, William “Bill” Stevenson, who has since passed away, donated the shovel to the branch a year after the hole had been dug. But how the shovel ended up in the box is still a mystery.
“Nobody knew it was here. Thank God I found it,” said Scott, adding the shovel will be put on display in the branch lounge. “That’s valuable history … It speaks of the day the legion was first built and where it is today.”
The discovery couldn’t have come at a better time, as the branch celebrated its 90th anniversary on Sept. 1.
The branch was originally built at 948 Dunford Ave., where the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet hall is, before moving to its current location, due to the need for a larger space.
While it was originally known as a place for veterans to gather and unwind, in recent years the legion has worked hard to change the public’s perception of what it does and who it serves.
“We’re trying to make the community understand that we are not a bunch of old farts, sitting behind a wall drinking beer,” said Scott, who has been with the legion for the past 22 years.
“We’re here to help and support the community … It’s not a boys’ club anymore. We try and make people welcome. The legion is here to support veterans and families in need, but we’re also here to welcome anyone else who would like to be a part of our legion.”
Not only does it serve some 1,300 veterans, their families and civilians, but it also gives back to the community as well. Once a week, the legion has a meat draw to support local organizations such as the Goldstream Food Bank Society, the Christmas Food Hamper, Emergency Social Services, Metchosin and South Vancouver Island Lions clubs, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.
With nine decades of history, Scott is looking to the legion’s future and has big plans in store. The aging building is in need of repairs, and a feasibility study is currently underway to look at tearing it down and replacing it. The study is expected to be completed this month.
The new building would potentially include a food bank, a larger air conditioned hall, a bar, as well as multiple levels of some form of housing for veterans.
“No matter what we do, we won’t do anything unless it is to be sustainable for the legion, that’s the bottom line,” Scott said.
To celebrate their 90th anniversary, the legion is hosting an event on Saturday, Sept. 9. There will be activities and snacks during the day, leading up to the Creedence Clearwater Revival dinner and show, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $25 per person for the dinner and show or $15 for the show. For more information visit rcl91.ca.