submitted by Brian Goss
Richmond began as a military settlement. Today its veterans and members of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 625 continue to contribute to the well being of its citizens through community service and involvement. Richmond’s men and women served valiantly in World Wars I and II. In honour of those who had served their country in war, the South Carleton Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion unveiled an honour roll in the Memorial Community Center in 1950.
Twenty three years later a group gathered to found our local branch.
Founding of The Richmond Legion – 1973-1974
From an article put together by Hilda Moore, taken from clippings from the Stittsville News, 1973/74 and various articles selected from the Branch Scrapbooks:
The first meeting of a group of Veterans interested in forming a Richmond Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion was organized by Gordon Hotchkiss in April 1973. While our Charter was granted on 10 July 1973, a “Charter Inaugural Dance” on 22 September 1973, marked the official launch of Richmond and District Branch 625 of the Royal Canadian Legion. The first social event was held in St Philip`s School with Zone Commander Bill Meiz and Reeve Betty Hill in attendance. There were 150 at the event.
1st Anniversary Dinner & Dance
This evening was held in the St John`s Anglican Hall on Saturday 4 May 1974. The Executive was Gordon Hotchkiss, President, – Harry Thomas, 1st Vice President, – Lillian Jeffries, Secretary/Treasurer, – Robert Barkley, Building Chairman, – John Rothwell, Membership Chairman, – Robert Loverock, Way and Means Chairman, – Frank Jefferies, Public Relations Chairman, – John Pickett, Sgt At Arms, – and members, R. Bradley, J. Rothwell, and A. Pulfer.
Building of Hall
Besides its responsibilities towards veterans and their families, Branch 625 became actively involved in working with senior citizens by providing meals on wheels and a transportation service. To continue and to enlarge on these services a hall of their own was needed. This would also enable the branch to support other community activities and services.
May 2, 1977, the Branch entered into a conditional agreement with Mrs. R. McKay of Fallowfield to purchase two acres of property on the southerly side of the westerly extension of Ottawa Street in Richmond. At a special meeting on May 7, 1979, a motion was passed to construct a building at a cost of $40,000. On May 3, 1979, an official sod turning ceremony was held.
On May 23, 1981, the Richmond Legion Hall, Branch 625 was officially opened before a large crowd with a gala ceremony featuring Legion, Municipal and Provincial dignitaries.
With the opening of the Richmond Legion Hall, the importance of a Ladies’ Auxiliary was recognized. On 1 April 1981, at a special ceremony held in the new Hall, members were inducted into the newly formed Ladies’ Auxiliary, Branch 625. President Frank Jefferies congratulated Pat Loverock on her efforts to get the Auxiliary started and called the event a “memorable day in our Branch’s history”.
Members of the first Executive Committee were: President, Pat Loverock; 1st Vice President, Barbara Bennett; 2nd Vice President, Mavis Lewis; Secretary, Hilda Moore; Treasurer, Heather Murphy; and Sergeant-at-Arms, Shirley Beardsell. Other Charter members were: Donna McRae, Joyce Lavoie, Carol Mains, Elsie Jamieson, Dorothy Marshall, Susan Bennett, Lisa Loverock, Bea McRae, Mabel Mann, Rosemary Satnik, Ina Bannon, Evelyn Pickett, Heather Bennett, and Marlene Dawson.
At the end of the Second World War, ex-servicemen returning to Richmond established a Patriotic Trust Fund to erect a cenotaph. However, this fund lay dormant and was finally taken over by the Richmond Legion when is was formed in 1973.
In 1976, the Legion attempted to build a cenotaph but had to abandon the idea. However, with the development of the Richmond Memorial Park by the Township of Goulbourn in 1988, the dream to commemorate those who had served during war, was realized. On November 6, 1988, the former Minister of Defense, the Rt. Hon. George Hees formally unveiled the new monument. The following November 11th, more than 400 people attended the first Remembrance Day service at the cenotaph.
In earlier articles we described the Royal Canadian Legion from a national and provincial perspective. So where does our branch fit within the District and Zone Commands?
With over 100,000 members in more than 400 Branches, some form of control and distribution of information must be worked out. In the case of Ontario Provincial Command nine Districts have been established across the province. Within each District are several Zones which eventually lead to several Branches in each Zone.
All information on Ontario Districts can be found on www.districtglegion.ca. There are nine Districts in Ontario Command (see map). Branch 625 Richmond is one of the Branches in District G.
Why a Web site for a Zone? This explanation is taken from Zone D1 Toronto. Zones are committed to promoting comradeship and cooperation among the branches, having a site that allows branches to have a common place to share information and notifications of upcoming branch functions and events even if a branch does not have its own website. Another important reason is to have a place to publicize the results of the Zone and District Sports, Youth Education programs.
In District G there are seven Zones in which Branch 625 Richmond is one of 10 Branches in Zone 5. A full description of Zone G5 can be found on www.rcl-zoneg.ca.
Ontario District G, Zone 5 is comprised of ten Legion Branches in the National Capital Region (Ottawa Area) of Eastern Ontario. All Branches, except for Rockland Branch, lie within the new boundaries of the City of Ottawa.
The following Branches are in District G Zone 5:
Montgomery-351; Eastview-462; Westboro-480; Rockland-553; Bells Corners-593; Strathcona-595; Stittsville-618; Richmond-625; Orleans-632; Barrhaven-641
This concludes a brief description of the Royal Canadian Legion from the top down to our local area. Branch 625 Richmond & District of the Royal Canadian Legion has been a part of the Village of Richmond to this day and will continue to do so and be part of Community services where possible. Future articles will focus on how the local Legion fits into the Community and how residents can become part of it.