Golden Legion Branch #122

BC Government Employees Association outside the Legion Hall across the street from the Civic Center, 1951

An organizational meeting to form the Golden Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion was held on Thursday, April 16th in the dining room of the Russell Hotel. The Golden Branch would prove to be the sixteenth branch to be formed in the province of BC. They received their Charter on May 28, 1931.

Just one year later on May 6, 1932 a post in the Golden Star shared the news that the Legion membership voted to purchase the old mill boarding house to use for a hall. The boarding house, built by the Columbia River Lumber Company stood on what is today 14th Street South. The building cost the club $1,200 but they had that paid off in two years’ time.

The building was used for community functions and dances until the present Civic Center was opened in 1949. During WWII the Legion Hall was rented for the operation of the Columbia Theatre, and after the war the veteran organization decided it was time for a new meeting room for the club and began building on it about the same time that the Civic Center was under construction.

While still in its infancy tragedy struck! Monday, November 7, 1949 fire swept the building, which was completely gutted. Not to be deterred a week later volunteers showed up to demolish the building and began plans for a new hall to be built.

The new structure was pretty much an exact replica of the old building and the volunteers began the task of rebuilding in April 1950. The new building was being occupied in 1951 but they members didn’t stop there. Realizing they needed to be able to offer more services the members completed construction on a banquet room in the basement of the building and it was being put to good use when again tragedy struck! On Mother’s Day 1966 the Legion building was significantly damaged by fire.

With the moto “There will always be a Legion” the organization held a number of meetings to discuss the future. One of the obstacles they had to deal with at their old location was parking so they decided that they would look for a new location that would offer them better parking.

They purchased the land beside the Rod & Gun Club for $7,000.00 after receiving an offer of $12,000.00 on the land that the burned out building was on. There were a few struggles along the way to completion of the new building and creative as always the members held bake sales, rummage sales, dances and then they sold the actual concrete blocks used for the construction of the building. If you bought a block you could have your name put on it.

The new hall had its official opening on Nov 24, 1967 with a ribbon cutting ceremony in front of a large crowd of spectators. The event was cause for a great banquet and dance, which included members and guests.

Originally, the Legion was formed to aid returned veterans but as the veterans started to pass, the organization had to look for a new purpose. They began taking on projects in the community and donating to local non-profits especially if they involved youth. The financed the high school basketball team so that they could go tournaments, the Air Cadets, minor league softball, soccer and hockey. They financed the furnishing of two of the room in Durand Manor in consideration of their aging membership. They set up scholarship fund for the children of veterans completing high school and held Christmas parties for the children of its members.

Legion members and guests attended the first of two mortgage burning ceremonies for the new building on January 18, 1974. Later that same year they gathered to celebrate the opening of the new dance floor and the improvements continued in 1976 with the addition of a banquet room.

The Royal Canadian Branch 122 has faced its share of struggles but continues to move ahead having recently sold their building and moved in to shared quarters at the Golden Curling Club. From this new location they will be able to continue to keep the motto “There Will Always Be A Legion.