Legions across Canada fighting to survive
Published Friday, November 9, 2012 5:17PM EST
Thousands gather at legion halls across Canada on Remembrance Day, but every other day of the year many legion halls are quiet and in search of new members.
Every morning some legion members in Preston gather for a chat, but like their coffee supply on some days, the crew's membership is running low.
Harry Lemieux joined the Royal Canadian Legion in 1948, and as a former paratrooper, he remembers the legion being a place for camaraderie.
“We needed a place to go. We were used to living with other guys for two, three, four, five years. We needed male companionship and this was it.”
And while Lemieux still uses the legion for that, younger veterans or those still active in the service, are turning elsewhere.
That’s true for members of the Royal Highland Fusiliers like Cpl. Mark Richardson, who train at the Kitchener Armoury.
“Generally most of the socializing at our level, because we're still active, is conducted within the military, within our mess here."
Galt legion president Charles Rose says there is a significant age gap in membership, and it impacts social events which are sources of income for legion halls.
“When it comes to…socializing and dancing, I'm not sure you're going to dance to Benny Goodman."
When he first joined in about 1973, Rose estimates the membership was about 1,700. Today he says it's closer to 1,000 and that’s a disheartening reality.
“I hope the legion survives.”
A sign welcoming new members sits outside a Royal Canadian Legion hall in Cambridge, Ont. on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012.
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