Georges Vanier Royal Canadian Legion Branch 472 in Hawkesbury has been serving local veterans and the community for 75 years.
The branch received its charter in 1947 under the name of Georges Vanier, a distinguished soldier in World War I and diplomat who later served as Governor General of Canada from 1960 to 1967.
“We are proud to carry his name,” said Branch President Jack Hume.
According to Hume, veterans who returned home after World War II wanted a place to gather with other veterans and Legion branches were being built across the country to serve them. The Hawkesbury branch currently has 180 members. The branch celebrated its 75th anniversary on September 9 and 10 2022 with a dinner, dance, and parade featuring the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Pipes and Drums.
Each year, the Hawkesbury branch administers the local Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund campaign which raises money to support veterans through the sale of pin-on poppies worn by thousands of local citizens in remembrance of those who have fought for Canada at war and served in the armed forces. Each year, the branch organizes the Remembrance Day cenotaph ceremonies held in Hawkesbury and surrounding communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic was challenging for the branch because it had to close during extended periods when conditions were severe and restrictions the strongest.
“Somehow, we pulled through and we are now doing well,” Hume said.
Friday night music, smoked meat suppers and special events at the Legion are drawing good crowds.
Hume said the branch is greatly indebted to the bar servers and others who work hard behind the scenes.
“These people give up hours of their time with no compensation except the gratitude of knowing they are doing this for a good cause,” he said.
The Branch 472 building is located at the corner of Nelson and Emerald streets in Hawkesbury. The original building burned down in 2003 and was completely rebuilt in less than one year.
“This was only achieved with the help of many residents of the region who gave their financial support,” Hume said.
The 1953 Willys Jeep on display in front of the Legion Hall has been a Hawkesbury landmark for many years. In 2020, branch members raised funds and volunteered to restore the Korean War-era military vehicle so it would continue to serve as an example of Canada’s military history to the community for many more years.
The Royal Canadian Legion is Canada’s largest Veteran support and community service organization, helping veterans, active-duty members of the Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP and their families receive assistance.
Branch 472 in Hawkesbury also contributes to area food banks, snow suit funds, the Heart & Stroke Foundation, the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital Foundation, and others in need. The branch supports services and activities for youth, the elderly, and sponsors the 57 SD&G Highlanders Army Cadet Corps.
Georges Vanier Royal Canadian Legion Branch 472 is always looking for volunteers. Anyone who is interested is encouraged to drop by the branch and inquire.
“The satisfaction you will have knowing you are helping your community is priceless,” said Hume.