Leduc LEGION welcomes new life!
Picture; At the Royal Canadian Legion's Annual Father's Day Golf Tournament Banquet, a local dad came to golf with his three sons.
Across Canada, Royal Canadian Legions are affected by the economy, not unlike other hospitality establishments. Society occasionally and sadly forgets that Legions are indeed directly linked to our Armed Forces’ history and current activities. However, on days like Remembrance Day and Canada Day, in hundreds of Canadian communities, Legions fill up with crowds keen on celebrating their country in an environment that pays homage to the men and women who served and still are serving our country. A bit of research leads to a colourful and very informative website, legion.ca and to these facts:
o The Royal Legion is the largest of the many veterans organizations in Canada with over 358,000 members.
o Member categories: Ordinary, Associate, Affiliate; open to all Canadian citizens and Commonwealth subjects; app. 40,000 members of Ladies Auxiliary; "Military Member-At-Large category for serving members of the CF.
o Legion is non-profit, dues supported, no financial assistance from any outside agency.
o Since inception in 1926, Legion strives to secure adequate pensions and benefits for veterans and their dependants, dealing directly with Federal Government.
o Major responsibility for the perpetuation of "REMEMBRANCE" in Canada through the Annual Poppy Campaign reminding Canadians of the 117,000 men and women who gave their lives in the wars and military missions around the world.
o Poppy funds collected are used for assistance to veterans, ex-service members and their families who are in need.
o Legion supports programs for seniors, community, housing, Long Term Care, youth, education, sports, Cadets, Guides and Scouts.
Canadian history tells us that the Legions were created to host and entertain our off duty and retired military personnel, providing them with a cozy environment often decorated with military memorabilia donated by members and their families and friends. Contrary to popular belief, Legion Halls serve local residents and visiting friends as well as their members. They host weekly musical events and popular ‘meat draws’, crib nights and other special interest functions. They generally are a popular destination for anyone interested in the military, or connected to it.
The Leduc Legion is no different. Its Hall has been beautifully refurbished and is used by many local groups for medium size and large events, including weddings, retirement parties and corporate functions. Its Lounge was remodeled a few years ago, and proudly displays an extensive library and collection of framed military photos and artifacts. In the days leading to Remembrance Day, several regional schools bring contingents of students to tour the Leduc Legion, offering youth a hands on view of interesting artifacts that tell a story of past wars and the military personnel that served our country.
The Royal Canadian Legion has chosen a dynamic approach to ‘inject‘ new life into its operation – and its future. Knowing that great food and social activities are the keys to a successful establishment, they have retained the services and skills of an enterprising woman, Deb Stephenson, whose background includes a high-profile financial position with a large Edmonton organization. When Ms Stephenson was approached to consider this position, the challenge intrigued her. The nature and purpose of the facility touched on her loyalty and admiration of the Forces’ mandate and history made it impossible for her to turn down the offer to become the Leduc Legion’s General Manager.
Ms Stephenson the enlisted the collaboration of a no-nonsense Bar Manager, Rob Van Elst, whose skills and congenial personality have already made an impression on Legion members and first time visitors. Another new recruit is the Kitchen Manager, Peter Laposzinski, a chef whose resume includes the Executive Royal Inn and camp kitchen positions. At the recent Father’s Day Legion Golf Tournament Banquet, golfers and their guests were ‘wowed’ by the exquisite items offered, such as the perfectly cooked roast beef and various vegetables, numerous tasty salads and exquisite desserts, prepared in-house. A surprising treat was in store for the Banquet guests: a dessert cart made the rounds of the sixty-or-so guests in the Great Hall, something you would seldom see at a banquet.
This new dynamic Legion management team is not only revamping the menu and the staff, but also looking forward to serving the numerous functions that are in the books for the summer. In fact, only one or two week-ends have open dates, so banquet planning at the Legion is a busy affair. Canada Day is looming, with its 7:30 to 10:30 am breakfast, the Annual Show and Shine (with an outdoors concession), the Color Party’s participation in the Parade and Flag Changing Ceremony, an official and impressive function, followed by a usually well attended and fun social time in the Legion Lounge.
As the years take their toll on Canada's veteran population, the Legion needs the infusion of new blood in order to maintain the many services provided by The Royal Canadian Legion to communities across Canada. Membership was originally restricted to those who had served in Canada's Armed Forces and Merchant Navy. The Royal Canadian Legion is proud of its military heritage and still maintains close ties with the Armed Forces today. However, over the years, categories of membership have evolved to include other members of the community.
With more than 1,500 facilities in Canada, the US and Europe, the Royal Canadian Legion wishes to make it clear that they do serve non-members as well as registered members. Annual membership is truly affordable, and contributes to all the great causes the Legions support in Canada. Deb Stephenson looks forward to meeting more regional visitors. The kitchen and bar staff she has rallied to the cause already have helped the Legion impress its visitors with new menus and an atmosphere that will cater with chic and friendship to its members and guests. The City of Leduc can be proud to ‘own’ a lovely Legion facility, and through its efforts, be able to preserve a bit of Canadian military history.