Original Published on Sep 19, 2022 at 13:59
By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Royal Canadian Legion Peace River Branch is looking to make some improvements to its building to provide service to parents and children.
Legion president Chad Shoaf says with a skateboarding park and splash park right next to the facility, Legion members want to make sure children have a safe place to get a snack or beverage.
“We’ve heard from some parents that it would be great if we were open during the day for kids to use bathrooms and buy water or other refreshments,” says Shoaf. “Right now, kids have to walk across a couple very busy streets to go to the gas station on Main Street.”
Shoaf says the intent is to build a deck off the south side of the building, which has a parking lot that connects to both recreational sites.
“We want to put picnic benches out there, so parents can have a place to relax and wait for their kids instead of waiting in their cars,” says Shoaf. “We want to provide music outside and we hope to buy a cotton candy machine and a slush machine.”
The Legion has a donation thermometer at its facility for the deck project, and volunteers are hoping to raise $20,000 with renovations expected to be done by next summer. Shoaf says that Mercer Peace River Pulp Division recently donated a generous $5,000 to the project and the Legion is working hard to raise the rest of the funds. By helping the Peace River Boating Association this summer, they were able to add nearly $1,300 to the project coffers. So far with all the fundraising initiatives, the Legion has managed to raise nearly half of the money required for construction.
Each Saturday until October, the Legion will be holding a Car Boot Sale in its parking lot from 9 a.m. until 1 pm. Interested participants can pay $10 to park their cars outside in the parking lot, using their trunk to hold a mini household item sale. Alternatively, folks can pay $20 to have a spot inside the building to sell their items. Shoaf explains this adds about $60 per week to the Legion’s deck project fundraiser, and he’s hoping additional participants will come out for the last few weekends.
If you would like additional information on any of the fundraisers or would like to make a donation to the project, please call Shoaf at (780) 624-1233.
Legions are part of Canadian history, anyone can join
By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
There’s an incredible sense of history, peace, and togetherness as one walks through the doors of Royal Canadian Legions across our country.
Peace River Royal Canadian Branch is no different, with memorabilia collected by the town’s Veterans through the years used as décor, both serving as an educational opportunity and a way to pay tribute. It’s organized in a way that introduces a warm atmosphere to invite folks to spend some time and enjoy one another’s company.
“We had Alberta’s 55+ Games here, many athletes were Legion members from other provinces,” says Peace River Branch president Chad Shoaf. “They said this was the coziest, home-like Legion they had ever been in.”
Legions were initially created in November 1925 to provide support for Veterans and their family members. The creation was a result of the end of the first World War, with an objective to provide a voice for First World War Veterans. After the Second World War, the Legion expanded to provide more support to Veterans, including those serving abroad.
Legions provide support for all Veterans, including Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP and their families. But Legions are not only for Veterans and their families, anyone can buy an affiliate membership to show support.
“We’ve been conditioned to think people (at Legions) will be white-haired, listening to Patsy Cline while playing crib,” says Shoaf. “The reality is kids are even allowed here if parents want to come have a drink and play darts. We have lots of things for kids to do. We have models, colouring, television, X-box, and a lot of other things for kids.”
Shoaf explains that many of the Veterans in each community are quite young. Many have served in places like Afghanistan or Iraq in recent years. Some have been in active duty, while others have served in peacekeeping missions, or have served in supporting roles.
He expresses Legions are meant to be a place that welcomes everyone, all ages, and all interests. No one is turned away. He does say that politics should be left at the door to ensure everyone feels comfortable.
According to the Royal Canadian Legion website, members of Legions show thanks by supporting and advocating for Veterans, by remembering their sacrifices, and by continuing the tradition of service in helping our communities.
“Anyone can be a member of a Legion,” says Shoaf, noting that there are a few rules to follow when becoming a member.
“Everyone is here to have a good time and you must love Canada.”
Membership for the year is $50, with all proceeds going back to maintenance and costs associated with running the facilities.
Peace River’s hours are Friday starting at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.
If you plan on attending the Legion, please note that Friday is Red Friday; visitors are asked to wear red in remembrance of everyone deployed. Meat draws are held every Saturday. Tickets can be purchased to win one of four packages (totalling $200 value) of meat. A Super Meat Draw will be held starting in October, with the draw happening just before Christmas. This will be one beef split into four, with tickets $20 each.
Shoaf welcomes new members, hoping that new participants can come out and see all that the Legion has to offer.
There are Royal Canadian Legion branches throughout the country. Local branches are found in Peace River, McLennan, High Prairie, Grimshaw and Fairview.