In 1917 the Great War Veterans Association (G.W.V.A) St. James Branch #1 Canadian Legion was formed. On December 3, 1917 the original first minutes of that meeting was as follows:

“The undermentioned members of the G.W.V.A. of the City of Winnipeg have decided this night, December 3, 1917, to form a branch at St. James of the above association, to be known as Branch No. 1 of the G.W.V.A. of Winnipeg. The idea – ideals aimed at being, helpful, progressive and instructive. To the idea being, to work in harmony and facilitate and expedite matters of importance, which may come before the Association etc.”

W.R. Bathie     R.J. Reid
J.W. Lord        J. Gallager
W.H. Forter     J. Crosland

Signed: W.B. (W. Bathie)

From 1917 to 1926 we were known as the Great War Veterans Association, St. James Branch No. 1, Canadian Legion.W. Bathie was no doubt president in 1917 of this club. The following is the list of presidents and dates served, with the first names listed prior to our becoming known as St. James Legion #4, British Empire Service League (B.E.S.L.) in 1926:

1917-19 W. Bathie 1919-20 Joe Gallager
1921 G.L. Armstrong 1922 T. Greenby,
W. Armishaw
1923 J. Watson
C. Stimpson
1924 J. Watson
A. Harrison
W. Bathie
1925 W. Bathie,
G. Taylor
St. James #4 (B.E.S.L.)
1926 W. Stubbs,
George Payne
J.W. Sinclair
1927-28 J. Kennedy
1928-31 Harry Rustige 1932-33 F. Higgs
1934 R. Cox
Dave Johnson
1935 W. Nobes
1936 J.B. Brown 1937-38 R. Cox
1939 A. Davidson 1940 R. Cox
1941 George Payne 1942 W. Hopkins
1943 Dave Johnston 1944 H. Davey
1945 Charles McFadden 1946 R. Cox
1947-48 David Kidd Sr. 1949 J. Campbell
1950 Dave Johnston 1951-53 Vic Jeffrey
1954-56 Don Robinson 1957 Tren Bourke
1958-59 Norm Simm 1960-61 Jim Beckett
1962-63 Tony Kawka 1964-65 Jim Beckett
1966-67 Walter Scott 1968-69 Carl Vermuelen
1970-71 Vic Affleck 1972-73 Carl Vermuelen
1974-79 Vic Affleck 1980-81 Ed Bell
1982 Dwight Johnston 1982-83 Alan Neelon
1984-87 Grant Suche 1988-89 James Holland
1990-91 Alan Neelon 1991 Jack Turnbull
1992 Alan Neelon 1993 James Holland
1994 Harold Bastable 1995-96 Bruce Barton
1997-2000 Roland Fisette 2001 William Zarney
2001-02 James Holland 2003-04 Eric Murphy
2005-09 Betty Zarney 2009 to Present Ronn Anderson

From humble beginnings in 1917 – 18 in an old Methodist Church at 280 King Edward Street in St. James, there grew to be what is now the St. James Legion #4 of the Royal Canadian Legion located on this present site.

On January 3rd, 1991 the Branch agreed to accept men for membership who had served in France or England provided they had an honorable discharge.Previous to this, only men who had served in France were accepted.

During the 1920s the Branch acquired an old bank building on Portage Avenue, which occupied part of the same land as our present building. It was used as the clubrooms and the old building was retained until they could move it to join the Portage Avenue building.

In 1925, Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig founded the British Empire Service League.

During 1926 several meetings were held and it was finally agreed that the Branch would join the B.E.S.L.

On December 6th, 1926, the Branch received their charter. The Branch was to be known as the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League, No. 4 Branch. While they were pleased at receiving their charter, they were disappointed at losing the distinction of being the Number 1 Branch! But they accepted it, while still remembering they were originally Number 1!

Likewise in 1927, the Ladies’ Auxiliary received their charter on May 25th. In 1929, prohibition was lifted and the Branch applied for and received a liquor license. On October 16th, 1930, the Branch took a financial loan and proceeded with moving the old clubrooms to the Portage Avenue location. On December 6th the new clubrooms were opened.

Early in 1932 a committee of six men (three from St. James and three from Deer Lodge) was appointed as a Ways and Means Committee regarding the erection of a Cenotaph.

In January 1934 the Branch asked the Municipal Council to allocate a piece of property in Truro Park (now Bruce Park) for the erection of a Cenotaph.

In the fall of 1935, the first sod was turned for the Cenotaph. In the early summer of 1936 the Cenotaph was handed over to the Municipality of St. James. Mrs D. McMurdo of St. James Ladies Auxiliary and Mr Wm. Hanks of Deer Lodge Legion unveiled the Cenotaph.

Where in previous years the Branch had paraded to one of the local churches for the Remembrance Day Service, in 1936 they paraded to the Cenotaph in Bruce Park.

In April 1939 Chief of Police Wm. Garthside asked the members of this Branch to assist his department in the policing of the Municipality of St. James during the visit of Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. I am certain the member’s assistance was appreciated because the police department of the time consisted of only seven men.

In September 1939 all major projects ceased. From then until 1945 the Branch devoted its time to raising money to send parcels overseas to boys and girls in the services. The members also worked with all levels of government to ensure that those who returned home had better opportunities than the old veterans received when they returned home. (They did a good job.)

The years 1945 to 1949 were a time of settling down and readjustment for the new members such as finding new jobs, homes, etc.

In 1950 the St. James council instructed the Chief of Police (D. MacDonald) to approach the Branch requesting the assistance of the members in the policing of the municipality and the use of the clubrooms as a headquarters and communication centre during the flood. This request was quickly complied with.

In November of 1950 it was voted that after all costs were known, a special letter was to be sent to every paid-up member with an attached voting slip to ascertain their wishes in regards to a new building.

In 1952 a contract was signed between the Branch and Wallace Brothers Shows to sponsor their circus and provide help from our members with policing and the maintenance of the grounds for which we would receive a share of the profits. Our share of the profits for that year was a little over $1,000 and we received about the same amount each year for the next few years.

In April of 1953 a Holding Committee was formed by a group of members who had pledged their homes as collateral for the construction of the new building. They were authorized to supervise the construction of the new clubrooms with the stipulation that the building was to be constructed in two phases. The understanding was that the second storey was to be completed as funds permitted.

At a meeting held December 3rd, 1953, it was decided the Official Opening of the new clubrooms was to take place on Friday, December 18th, 1953 at 8:00 PM for members and dignitaries and that the clubrooms be opened on Saturday, December 19th for members and their guests.

I think this next item is worth noting!!!

At a meeting during 1955, it was agreed that a picture of Mr and Mrs Dick McMurdo be taken and sent to the Legionary. This was to honour them for the 38 continuous years of service that Mrs McMurdo had given the Ladies Auxiliary and Mr McMurdo’s 38 years of service to the Branch.

In 1955 the second floor of the new building was opened.

In October 1957 it was decided to apply to the Liquor Commission for a license, “for beer only” for the second floor, and also request that permission be granted for the Ladies Auxiliary to use the lounge and card room for their meetings. Even though the area would be licensed, the bar would be closed.

During 1958 work was commenced on the St. James Legion Memorial Sports Park which on completion was to be handed over to the City of St. James for maintenance.

In 1959 our name was officially changed to “The Canadian Legion”.

Our name was changed again in 1961 to read “The Royal Canadian Legion”.

On October 5th, 1963, a severe fire in the clubrooms burnt out the second storey and the main floor suffered extensive smoke and water damage. On October 7th the President called an emergency meeting of the Executive, Management and the Holding Company in regards to the fire. He proposed the setting up of a Special Committee to deal with all aspects of the problem in order that the downstairs of the building be put back into operation at the earliest possible date. The Holding Company was authorized to borrow any money necessary for the repairs

In November of 1963 the Sports Park was handed over to the City of St. James.

In 1969 the first sod was turned for the Legion’s Senior Citizens Home.On October 30th, 1972 the Senior Citizens Home was officially opened even though it had been partially occupied since May of that year.

As well, in 1972, the first waitresses were hired and we saw the opening of the Games Room on June 28th.

The same year at the Dominion Convention, it was passed that we accept sons and daughters of veterans as members.

In 1973 the Branch accepted the first sons and daughters as part of our membership.

The front of this building was extended to the south in 1980.

From 1986 to 2001 we had some difficulties and some positive events.

We have spent in the neighborhood of $500,000 in renovations, repairs and purchasing additional property around our club.Some of the bigger expenditures were:

  1. An elevator - $160,000 approximately and was definitely required.
  2. $70,000 to replace carpeting and ceiling in our lounge downstairs.
  3. $25,000 games room ceiling, P.A. system, kitchen, office and stage.
  4. $7,727 carpet and tile upstairs.
  5. $13,598 to change the hot water tanks over to gas heating system.
  6. Purchase of property – approximately $60,000.
  7. Boiler over $30,000.
  8. Air conditioner $10,000.

These are some expenditures and many more smaller amounts not listed here were made.

In 1989 $18,000 was allocated to build a new Cenotaph. The City matched this amount.

Speaking of the Cenotaph which was first erected and dedicated in 1936 at Truro Park (now Bruce Park) and turned over to the Municipality of St. James. The original Cenotaph was replaced with an exact replica and in 1990 was re-dedicated, however, through wear, tear and eroding of the number of floral designs, the St. James Collegiate students decided to make it one of their school projects to replace them. They did a terrific job, completing the project in 2005.

In February 1992 the club had financial difficulties and we had to transfer $23,000 from the building expansion fund to the general account to pay our outstanding bills. This amount was later reduced to $15,000.

In 1999 a mural was painted on the west wall of our building picturing the landing of Canadian Forces during World War II at Juno Beach on June 6, 1944. The mural was dedicated in June 1999.

In 2001 our office was relocated to the 2nd floor at a cost of approximately $20,000.

The kitchen was also revamped and appliances replaced at a cost of approximately $22,000.

From 2001 to 2006 our club went through some more difficult times, namely, in 2003 the air conditioning had to be replaced, although insurance covered most of the expense; and in 2004, the “No Smoking Ban” came into effect in June and by the end of 2004 we were down over $40,000 in revenue. The same year our boiler had to be replaced at a cost of over $30,000. The Ladies Auxiliary assisted us with a big donation in this endeavour.

The bingos held every Saturday have been very successful over the last few years and that committee deserves accolades.

We have always been involved with our community. In 1985 we contributed $59,490 to charities, hospitals, etc.

During the period of 1986 – 2006 our poppy fund has donated approximately $355,944 to hospitals and community services. Also this Branch has donated to hospitals, community services and charities for the same period a total of $560,786. A couple of larger donations were made to the Grace General Hospital and Deer Lodge Centre. Overall total donations from poppy fund and branch come to a whopping $916,729. This, I believe, is a tremendous accomplishment and the poppy committee as well as our general membership should be very proud.

Compare this to our contributions of 1945 of $120, of which $50 was donated to Dominion Command for the erection of the new building for Dominion Command Headquarters.

In spite of the huge amounts spent during the last 20 years, we continue to prosper and function as a thriving club thanks to the many, many members who give of their time and dedication to veterans and the survival of our Legion. To these members the deepest thanks and appreciation is well deserved and warranted.

In sports we won the Dominion Dart Championship in 1989. We have also won the Provincial Dart Championship numerous times and gone onto Dominion without success. Our cribbage players and curling players have also won the Provincial Championships several times and gone onto Dominion Championships. Our golf players have won the Provincial Championship several times.

We also have billiard teams who participate in the City league and have been successful many times with excellent results. In the past, we also had a game and fisheries club who had many events.

As you can see our Legion has done extremely well in the sports arena over the years. We have a terrific canteen and during the years have consistently prepared the best food. This also includes many events catering to banquets, weddings, anniversaries, etc. The following people since 1972 have operated our canteen:

  • Prior to 1972 - Edna
  • 1973 - Flo Lynch
  • 1976 to 87 - Louise McLean
  • 1972 - Dean Jones
  • 1974 & 75 - Deanne Neumann
  • 1988 to August 2006 - Susan McLean

We also have been fortunate to have been blessed with some great managers, namely:

1971 – 1991 Freeman Myers at first was hired as Chief Stewart. Then when the name was changed be became our 1st Manager until he retired in 1991.
1991 – 2000 Lucille Robertson served as Manager, although Lucille started working under Freeman in 1972. Lucille Robertson retired officially in 2000.
2001 – 2002 Pat Moore became our manager and served for 2 years.
2002 – Present Leif Johnson is now our Manager.

55 and Over Club

The 55 and over Club was started in 1972 as the Over 65 and Retired Club, later to become the Over 60’s Retired Club.

Unfortunately, records have been lost and members have left us, so this report relies a lot on what people remember of the “old days”.

The first President (or Chairman, as we are reminded that the Branch can have only one President) was Jimmy Ross. Then came Fred Ladbrooke, Jim Dale, Vic Affleck and Jack Reid, followed by Bill Corbett, Grant Suche, Renee Mason, Ed Neumann, Bud Davis, Sam Faraci, Marge Suddick and Darlyn McDonald.

Our members have always been actively involved in Legion duties such as poppy campaigns, Honorary Pallbearers, convention delegates and various committees within Branch #4. We have nine Life Members, an honor which testifies not only to their years as Legion members, but also their dedication to duty as Legionnaires.

Over the years we have been happy to make contributions to Branch #4, among them being a new Bingo machine, a plaque for the Vic Affleck room, a contribution to the mural on the outside west wall, items in the Memorabilia cabinet and most recently three sets of patio tables and chairs.

In the past we supported our club mainly through Wednesday night Bingo games. The proceeds were used to subsidize, in part, bus trips, social events and charitable donations. We also ask our members to “save their pennies” during the year and this makes a generous donation to the Christmas Cheer Board. However, rising costs for paper, licenses, etc. made it obvious that Bingo night was no longer profitable and regretfully we gave it up, regretfully because we had many loyal followers, and it was fun. We now rely on membership fees, bake sales, fun days and donations from our Whist Club and line dancers and it’s still fun.

Last year we decided to lower the age requirement to “55 and over” in the hope of attracting younger seniors, people with energy and enthusiasm to carry on where our “older seniors” leave off. We are proud of our club, our meetings are friendly, sharing coffee and doughnuts, and entertainment and we are always happy to welcome new members.


The Ladies Auxiliary as far as we can ascertain was formed in 1921 under the name of G.W.V.A. (taken from minutes dated 1921 – 1929). The first president noted was in 1918, Mrs Clara Crosby and from 1919 – 1928 Fannie Witham was listed as president. Listed hereunder is when our Ladies Auxiliary became into existence on 25 May 1927.

In pursuance of the authority and powers granted by letters patent under the Companies Act of Canada, the Canadian Legion, through its Dominion Executive Council, doth hereby constitute and appoint:

Mesdames: Fannie Witham, Alice Ward, Janet McMurdo, Elizabeth Jewell, Lydia Sinclair, Jane Murdoca, Christina Brown, Martha Ennis, Catherine Ada Vosper, Emma Miller, Mary Harrison, Isabella Harrison together with other duly qualified persons with them associated at 280 King Edward Street, St. James, Manitoba to be a Ladies Auxiliary of the Canadian Legion of the British empire Service League and to be known as St. James (Manitoba No. 4) Ladies Auxiliary under the jurisdiction of the Manitoba Command of the Canadian Legion and subject to the Constitution, By-Laws, Rules and Regulations of the Canadian Legion.

It witness whereof the Dominion Executive Council have hereunder set the corporate seal of the Legion attested by the hands of the President and Secretary at Ottawa this twenty fifth day of May 1927.


B.M. Campbell

Perry Lake
Dominion Executive Council

Listed below is the Ladies Auxiliary Presidents from 1923 and on:

1918 Mrs Clara Crosby 1919-28 (incl) Mrs Fannie Witham
1928-29 Alice Ward
(Mrs Sinclair served one month)
1930 Mrs McMurdo
1931-32 Helen Higgs 1933-39 Mary Garthside
1940-41 Mrs F. Carter 1942-45 F.W. (Kate) Palmer
1946 Margaret Gunning & C.J. Randle 1947-48 C.J. (Helen) Randle
1949-50 Gladys H. Page 1951-52 Bessie Johnston
1953-54 Records Lost 1955-57 Eileen Foster
1958 Records Lost 1959 W. Fraser
1960-61 Records Lost 1962 Margaret Reynolds
1963-64 Records Lost 1965-66 Bertha Birks
1967 M. Reilly 1968-69 M. Reynolds
1970 H. Anderson 1972-72 M. Reynolds
1973-74 M. Vermeulen 1975-76 E Wright
1977-78 E. Watson 1979-80 E. Stratton
1981 E. MacKay 1982 M. Anderson
1983 C. Linklater 1984-87 M. Martin
1988 C. Linklater 1989-90 Joan Faraci
1991-92 K. Brown 1993-94 Laurette Dirks
1995 Joan Faraci 1996-97 Tannis Hill
1998-2002 Barb Criggie 2002 to present Lorna Main

The following is a brief history of the Ladies Auxiliary compiled from their 75th Anniversary.

During the First World War and in the years following the Armistice, groups of devoted women worked for the interests of the men overseas and endeavored to assist their families at home. As the boys returned, the tasks undertaken by them increased, due to the mounting unemployment situation, the low rates of pensions and the limited amount of relief available. When local units of returned men were formed, these groups of women more or less automatically became Auxiliaries to these organizations.

The St. James Branch #4 Ladies Auxiliary received their Charter on May 25th, 1927. The names of the Charter Members appear on a bronze plaque which hangs in the Branch boardroom.

The Auxiliary held its meetings in schools, office building, and member’s homes. One of our members remembers being initiated in 1944 in the old bank building which was the Clubrooms.

The Ways and Means Committee held Whist Drives, doughnut sales (the cost of a doughnut was 5 cents), jewelry and Tupperware parties in their homes. The admission fee was an article for the sewing table or a cup and saucer to be used for teas. Gifts that were raffled were received also from the St. James merchants. Tours were arranged to visit the Christie Biscuit plant and various other places, including a brewery and a funeral home. The charge was approximately 25 cents for a ticket and it was surprising the amount of money raised. One year, one of the members who had received a bar set as a gift donated the set for a raffle. Enough money was received to put lights up at Legion Park on Silver Avenue. The Auxiliary helped in getting the drapes and televisions for the Legion Lodge on Ness Avenue. They also looked after birthday parties for them once a month, donating lunch and birthday cakes. In 1954, drapes were purchased for the upstairs Clubrooms and a kitchen was also installed.

The ladies ran the Ham Bingos and the proceeds went into the General Funds. While attending the Bingo some Easter Baskets were donated by the members and they were filled with goodies for the Children’s Hospital. Since 1989, the baskets have been filled with home made chocolates for the Children’s Hospital.

In the late 40’s and 50’s, after the war, the Ladies acted as receptionists when the shoppers donated gifts at the giant Christmas tree at Eaton’s. Afterwards, the gifts were delivered to the Deer Lodge Veterans on Christmas morning.

During the early years a bus would be hired and visits would be made to one of the out-of-town Auxiliaries and then that Auxiliary would come and visit our Auxiliary. It was a great way of learning about our own District and of hearing about different projects to raise money.

In the past we held garage sales, and rented tables at the local Community Craft Fair. We managed the cloakroom at the request of the Branch on Dance Night.

Now, our money making projects are the usual lunches, teas as well as our main money raiser, our Bake Table at the Branch meat draws.

The members made visits to the Veterans at the Academy Road Home (some of the boys were known as Snowbirds). They are still carrying out these visits but of course, they are now made at Deer Lodge Centre and other institutions. We are proud to have adopted Veterans. In addition to the regular visitations, the members remember them on special occasions such as Easter, Christmas and their birthdays. In the early sixties, the Auxiliary started to award one $50.00 Scholarship to a St. James Collegiate student. Three bursaries are now given – two to St. James Collegiate and one to Sturgeon Creek Regional Secondary School totaling $800.00.

When the Royal Canadian Legion was participating in the Shrine Circus, the Ladies took their shifts in selling programs and ushering. The members assisted with the Red River Relays during the Indoor Track Meet. We support the Manitoba Northwestern Ontario L.A. University Scholarships, Royal Canadian Legion Sports Foundation Camp and also their Annual Tea. Donations are made to Caddy Lake Camp, Joint Hospital, Winnipeg Metropolitan Committee, Veterans’ Summer Outings, Children’s Hospital Research Foundation, Manitoba Lung Association, Children’s Miracle Telethon, Canadian Cancer Society, National Institute for the Blind and the Christmas Cheer Board.

We assisted our Branch with the Blood Donor Clinic, Poppy Day, and Robbie Burns Day and on any other special occasions. We have Ladies who take part in the November 11th parade and Colour Party at the Cenotaph, and other Ladies prepare and serve the hot dogs and hot chocolate donated by the Auxiliary to all the cubs, scouts, cadets, brownies and guides in attendance with their parents. We have been very active with the Branch when the joint Conventions were held in Winnipeg. It was an honor to act as hosts to the visiting Auxiliaries.

Over the years we have honoured 15 members with Life Memberships and 16 ladies have received Certificates of Merit, 2 Meritorious Service Awards, 61 Membership Badges and 6 Ladies Auxiliary Broaches have been awarded.

In May 1987 we celebrated our 60th Anniversary. A dinner was held in the Branch Clubrooms with special guests and a happy evening was enjoyed by all.

When the Valour Road Ladies Auxiliary was dissolved, we were pleased and fortunate that many of the members transferred to St. James Auxiliary.

May 1st, 1988 St. James Ladies Auxiliary Colour Party won the first place trophy in the Colour Party Marching School Competition. The Colour Party Members were: Sergeant-at-Arms – Nel Roh, Colour Bearers – Lila Johnson and Vicky Bilecki.

In the past we have “let our hair down” by entertaining the Branch and the Ladies with skits and party games at different functions.

Our largest expenditure in recent years was the extensive remodeling of the kitchen in 1994.

The members over the years have worked hard and given freely of their time. May we, with God’s help, continue our interest in the Veterans, in education, in morality and above all, in the Youth of Canada and in good citizenship in the future of our nation.

Scholarships presented as far back as 1949 was confirmed by records from Provincial Command.

As far back as November 15th, 1947 (from records) our Ladies Auxiliary had a fall tea with sale of fancy work, home cooking and artificial flowers held in the St. James Hall, 1845 Portage Avenue. Prior to this back as afar as 1941 the tea’s were called Homecraft House also (from records). The Ladies Auxiliary in 1941 ordered 20 constitutions which cost a total of $2.00.

Since 2002 to the present, the Ladies Auxiliary have donated $12,576 to the Branch to help in certain repairs and taxes. Had a joint tea with the Branch in 2005. Also in 2006 the Ladies Auxiliary donated $4,000 toward the building of a patio on the west side of our club. Donated to St. James School Lunch Program $1,900 and have three adopted Veterans at Deer Lodge ($622).

So, in reality the Ladies Auxiliary have donated to the Branch $16,516 since 2002 and they deserve our deepest thanks.

In total, which includes donations to Juno Beach ($1,000), Joint Hospital ($1,800) Provincial Council Ladies Auxiliary ($1,000), Variety Club ($400), RCL Sports Foundation ($1,693.77), Bursaries ($3,400) and other charities ($100). All totaling $28,491.77 since 2002.

We began with 7 members. In 1986 we had 3,702 members and now in 2006 a total of 1,931 members. As you can see since 1986 membership has declined steadily. If our Legion is to survive, we must recruit new members and start supporting the Legion’s activities a little more.

The above is a short history of our Legion. It is by no means a complete history. I have only hit some of the highlights and no doubt there is some projects and interesting happenings that I had to skip over.

One person could not do this special 80th Anniversary Bulletin by themselves. The following members assisted me in supplying information and data to this end: Jan Miller, Marg Martin, Lucille Robertson, Renee Mason, Muriel Barton, Herb Rogers (65th Anniversary Bulletin), Eva MacKay, Audrey Hutcheon (Provincial Command Records) and Leif Johnson.