MOUAT, IVAN (1920 - ) "The Legion"

The Royal Canadian Legion in Canada & SSI
 


TOPIC: The Royal Canadian Legion in Canada & SSI


SUBJECT LISTINGS
:
I. MOUAT, IVAN
II. ARMY, WW I, WW II
III. COMMUNITY SERVICES: The Royal Canadian Legion
IV. THE ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION
V. BUILDINGS, Harbour House Hotel; United Church; The Legion, Blaine Rd.
VI. HARBOUR HOUSE HOTEL
VII. NAMES: Gordon Heinecky, McGregor Fullerton, Mackintosh, Vernon Case-Morris, F.C. Turner, C.R. Rudge, Fred crofton, Frank Crofton, H.A. Robinson, John Bennett (Sr.), J.0. Halley, Mr. Maddock, Ted Beaton
VIII. HEINECKY, GORDON
IX. MACKINTOSH, MCGREGOR FULLERTON
X. CASE-MORRIS, VERNON
XI. TURNER, MAJOR F.C.
XII. RUDGE, C.R.
XIII. CROFTON FAMILY
XIV. ROBINSON, H.A.
XV. HALLEY, JAMES DUNLOP
XVI. MADDOCK, MR.
XVII. BEATON, TED
XVIII. BENNETT, JOHN (Sr.)
XIX. SALT SPRING ISLAND HISTORICAL SOCIETY ADDRESS:
n.d.

A. The beginnings of the Royal Canadian Legion in Canada

Introduction - Veterans of WW1

Good afternoon. In presenting any back ground of our own Royal Canadian Legion branch, I
shall have to start with s brief review of the beginnings of the Royal Canadian Legion in Canada and a look back on World War One, or as it used to be called, The Great War.
600,000 Canadians joined the services in the period 1914-1918. Of that number, 60 000 were
killed, and 140 000 were wounded or disabled. The Canadian Expeditionary Force made a
contribution out of all proportion to its numbers, and the population that had raised it and
equipped it, was then 18 million.
Canadians made a great contribution to the Allied Forces in The Great War, but whenever
Canadian exploits are discussed, mention is always made of Vimy Ridge. For two and a half
years, the Germans had held out against many attempts to dislodge them. It was Canadians, as a
Canadian formation, fighting under Lieutenant General Byng, who took Vimy Ridge. We had 10
600 casualties.

Post War need for an Association of Veterans
In the period that followed World War One, the fighting men returned to a Canada that had
changed greatly. They felt isolated from the main body of the population. Soldiersí cubs and
regimental associations were formed, first, for social reasons, and later, to tackle common
problems. There were many, many groups formed (list of 13 read out). Of all these, the leading
group was the Great War Veterans Association, or the GWVA. It had a nine year life from 1917
until 1926. It had members in 700 branches across Canada, and it had a monthly magazine, The
Veteran. It was, as I said, not the only organisation to endure for any time, but it was the only
one that got the ear of the Canadian government. The GVA was incorporated in 1921 and
became the advisory to the government on Veteransí Affairs.
It urged the formation of the 1923 Royal Commission on Pensions and Re-Establishment. It
acted as the central agency for settling on claims arising from war service, and handled 82 000
claims in its first seven years. Its recommendations were accepted by the government on the
Soldiers Settlement Act of 1919.
Although its priority was veterans and their needs, it soon deveoped other goals; a better society,
and building up the young Canadian nation, and as the nation moved into the 1920ís, it soon
became apparent to veterans, that they needed a united front. The Veteran, thatís the GWVA
magazine, urged the cause of unity, but it was a long struggle. There was the East versus the
West syndrome, the west had lost its voice and the eastern factories made money; there was the
enlisted men versus the officers; and so on, and so on. The various divisions were just what the
government wanted to see. Veterans slipped into many small and divisive groups.
The leadership of the GWVA saw that the formation of the British Legion in 1921 united a
number of diverse veterans organisations into one united force. Later in the same year, the
British Empire Service League was formed in Cape Town.

Earl Haig
Earl Haig was the moving force behind the formation of both these united veterans groups.
[George Alexander Eugene Douglas Haig, 2nd Earl Haig OBE RSA DL (15 March 1918 ñ 10
July 2009)] As the GWVA was a member of the British Empire Service League, its leaders
prevailed upon Haig to visit Canada. In 1925, the British Empire Service League held a congress
in Ottawa, and foll0wing this, Haig made a whistle-stop tour across Canada. He urged the cause
of unity to all veterans and all veterans organisations he met. Critics said that Haig just wanted to reinforce the Empire, and to make sure that there were another lot of Canadian soldiers ready for
the next British war. But in spite of such criticism, four organisations came out for unity, in
support of the GWVA. Before Haig left Canada, the GWVA, the TB Veterans, the Canadian
Legion, and the Naval Veterans of Canada, were agreed on unity. Haigís deputy in Canada was
Sir Richard Turner of QuÈbec, and under his chairmanship, the GWVA organised a conference
in the Marlborough Hotel in Winnipeg in November 1926.

The Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League
There was some difficulty in choosing a name for the new united organisation, but finally, the
one chosen was The Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League. Sir Percy Lake in
Victoria was chosen as the first president. The Legionís new constitution established a non-
sectarian, non-political organisation with broad objectives; loyalty to Canada and the Crown, the
welfare of all veterans and their dependants, commemmoration and appreciation of the fallen and
the survivors. And also, social and philanthropic efforts for the good of society as a whole.
[Ivanís tongue does trip and say ëas a hotel - as a whole, pardon me, as a wholeí]. These
objectives have changed little, and are recited for the edification of all new members at our
initiatio ceremonies today.

Some milestones in the Royal Canadian Legion
Here are some milestones in the Royal Canadian Legion:
1926 the Legionary became the official publication of the new Canadian Legion.
1927 the first Dominion Convention was held in Winnipeg. Legion membership was 20 000 at
that time. Today, it is approximately 470 000, with 110 fraternal affiliates.
1931, the first National Remembrance Day service was held in Ottawa.
1958 the Legion shortened its name to The Canadian Legion.
1960, Her Majesty graciously assented to the addition of ëRoyalí to the Legionís name. So today,
we are now the Royal Canadian Legion.

2. Salt Spring Island Branch 92 of the Royal Canadian Legion
And now let me get back to Salt Spring Island, and our own Salt Spring Island Branch 92 of the
Royal Canadian Legion.

Salt Spring Island has had its share of wars, warriors, and war casualties.
In World War One, we raised 150 men and lost 20. In World War Two, we raised 168 men and
women, and lost 9. In each of these conflicts, more than 10% of the population joined the forces.
In 1919, when our soldiers and sailors came home, they, like the rest of the rejoining veterans
across the country, began to think of forming a common group. The GWVA was active on the
island, and I know that Gordon Heinekey, father of the late George Heinekey, was active with
this group. The information is not fully available to me right now, but either he, or other
members of the GWVA here on the island and elsewhere, were associated with a branch nearby.
I regret very much not being able to deal with this fully, but I am on the track of some information which I hope will clear this matter up, but I canít tell you whether one of the 700
branches of the GWVA during that period (19)21-26 was serving the island, but I know that one
of the leaders in that group was George Heinekey. He had lost a leg in France, and he always
went around with a cane, and his stiff leg; I remember as a young boy, seeing him.

Charter Members of the Salt Spring Island Branch 92
However, as I said earlier, the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League was
formed in 1921, and five years later, in March 1931, fifteen veterans of Salt Spring Island were
the charter members of the Salt Spring Island Branch 92. They chose as their president Mcgregor
Thornton Mackintosh. He had been a captain in the Canadian Scottish, and heíd lost an arm in
France. He was a heroic looking gentleman, he had a beautiful voice, and could give a terrific
rendition of The Road To The Isles. During the 30ís he lived in the Beaver Point Area. He
remained president for 14 years, from 1921-45. I remember he was chairman at the first Legion
meeting I ever attended. Meetings were always held in the Harbour House dining room, as for
the first 25 years of its life, our Legion had no home, at least no home of its own; certainly
Harbour House was its home, other home.
By the way, I do have a picture which Iíve borrowed from the Branch, and Iíd like some of you
who remembered it - but there of course is Slater, heís now Lieutenant Colonel Mackintosh, and
he has a place of honour at our Branch. Iíll just leave it there and people can see it later on.
Other charter members were:
2. Vernon Case-Morris, father of Daphne Bradley;
3. F.C. Turner, or Major Turner as he was known to most of us who remember him, father of
Peter Turner, Squadron Leader Peter Turner DFC, who was killed on a bombing raid in, I think,
1943;
4. Frank Speed, he was a [inaudible - ësetheraní?] collector for years, here on the island;
5. J. H. Kingdom, lived out, for years, where the Andersons now live, at St. Maryís Lake;
6. C.R. Rudge, the only true remittance man I ever met in my whole life, whom we remember
with love and affection together;
7. Harry Newman, used to drive a taxi, and lived a way out just near where Epron Road is now;
8. Eric Springford, his brother Cecil is perhaps better known;
and then we have the two Crofton brothers:
9. Fred (Crofton) grandfather of John, also grandfather of Patrick, MP; and
10. Frank Crofton;
11. H. A. Robinson, who has a farm, where the airplane lands down on the canal there;
12. Hugh Green;
13. John Bennett, the father of Johnny Bennett; and
14. Ian Halley, poor old Ian Halley, badly shell-shocked, and never married, he lived in a little
shack on, near McPhillips Avenue, across from sort of the library, down where there is now an
RB2 [?? -inaudible].
These were the veterans who started our Branch here on Salt Spring Island, and when we, the
veterans of World War Two, returned to the island in 1945, were welcomed by the old sweats, and they soon stood aside, to let us take their places and learn something of this great
organisation of ours, the Royal Canadian Legion.
By the way, at Legion meetings you will hear members referred to as ëcomradeí, as we address
the chairman as ëcomrade achairmaní, or ëcomrade Presidentí. This comes to us from the early
members of the Legion, who said, ìWe were comrades then, let us be comrades now.î

A Home Of Our Own
I said our branch had no home of it own, until 1957-58. In a swap with the Ganges United
Church and the purchase of the old United Church building, we got our first home. Various
expansions, one fire, and a great deal of work, led to the development of the building on
Hereford Avenue.
In 1985 a long-term member of the Legion, Ted Beaton, died and bequeathed his property and
considerable sum of money, to Branch 92. Because of Tedís generous gift, we were able to
proceed with the construction of our present building on Blaine Road. We moved in on April 1st
of this year, and held our official [inaudible] on May 7th. We have an asset there now worth over
half a million dollars, and out debt load is quite manageable.

Members; A Tenth of the Population of the Island are associated with SSI Branch 92
I should tell you that there are different kinds of members in the Legion. We have Honorary
Members; that is, people who could not normally join the Legion but because of service to the
Branch, we have two such honorary members. There are Life Members; this is an award thatís
given for service to the Legion, and we have seven Life Members. And then there are Ordinary
Members; like myself and John and Bob there, and Kirby, and others here in the - that is,
veterans who can join the Legion - we have more than 361 Ordinary Members. Then we have
Associate Members; who are the spouses or children of Ordinary Members, and we have 180
Associate Members. Then we have Paternal Affiliates; they are not members in the ordinary
sense of the word, but they have social privileges, but no vote - we have 169 Paternal Affiliates.
This adds up to more than 700 residents of the island who are members or associated with our
Branch; in other words we have a tenth of the population of the island who are associated with
our Branch unit.

Pursuing Our Objectives Today
We are still pursuing our objectives, those same objectives that the founding convention of the
Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League spelled out in 1921, pardon me, 1926:
ï Welfare of Disabled Veterans, Widows of Veterans and their Dependents
ï Commemmoration of the Fallen
ï Social and Philanthropic Efforts.
Let me tell you a little of how we pursue these objectives.
Each Branch has a Service Officer who assists veterans or widows, and helps them become
aware of, or receive the benefits to which they are entitled and which are available to them. I
perform this office in our Branch, and it is a very rewarding task. We work very closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and have their full co-operation. I often have, as I did last night,
to report to our General Meeting where there were two cases that needed my assistance or the
assistance of other people, and we got them going, and things are much better than they would
have been.
Then we have our social and philanthropic efforts. We joined with the Lions and Rotary Clubs
on the Croftonbrook Project; we have assisted at juvenile soccer and other youth groups; we
sponsor the boy Scouts on Salt Spring; we sponsor the Red Cross blood clinic; and at almost
every meeting we give a sum of money for some cause or another.
Commemmoration of the fallen; we sponsor, organise, and conduct Remembrance Day services.:
this is our day. As part of our opening ritual, the president asks the members, before they
proceed with consideration of business, to pause, and think reverently of those of our comrades,
who by sea, on land, or in the air, gave their lives for our sovereign country. So, on November
11th, we are asking you to pause, and think reverently, of the fallen.
ìThey shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years
condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.î
Questions and Answer Time
SSI Hist Soc Speaker:
Thank you very much Ivan, that was very moving. [inaudible comment]
Now we have (time for some questions).
Q. Are the members of the Canadian Legion just people who served in the Canadian Armed
Forces?
A. No, we can accept them from any Allied force, but in some cases, depending on service and
so on, they can become associate and non-voting members


Accession Number 989.031.040 Interviewer  
Date Nov. 8, 1988 Location Cassette tapes box File #24 to File #48 Shelf 8C
Media   Audio CD  
ID 35