Hockey arenas, coffee shops and Royal Canadian Legions are all a part of the fabric of small-town life in Canada. Millet is no different and it too has a Legion of its own.
The Millet Royal Canadian Legion began on June 2, 1947, just over two years after the end of the Second World War. With so many veterans in the area after the war, many of those who served wanted a veteran’s organization in the area to build comradeship amongst each other. At the time, the only requirement to join the Legion was voluntary service in the air force, army or navy. With so many veterans, it was not hard to get the Legion started.
At first, meetings were held at the IOOF Hall in Millet. Resources were limited at the time, so progress was slower for the branch compared with other branches that had been around for much longer.
For two years, the Millet Legion continued to hold its meetings in the IOOF Hall but in the fall of 1949, a pre-fab building used in the construction of the Alaska Highway became available. Funds were borrowed, and the Village of Millet gave the Legion a 99-year lease on a property, so they could erect their structure. Many parts of the building needed extensive repairs, but members got down to work. A concrete foundation was built, and the hut began to take shape. All the work was done by volunteers and members helped in any way they could. Pearl Scott lived next door, and she allowed the Legion to use her electrical power from her house for free. This allowed the members to work late into the night on the building. Mrs. E.R. Hoskins ensured that all the volunteers had a steady diet of coffee and homemade doughnuts for lunch. For many years after, she kept everything in the building in order and organized lunches for Armistice/Remembrance Day services.
On Nov. 11, 1949, the public was invited to the new building. The Women’s War Workers, who were very active during the war in support of the troops, raised money and donated a bronze plaque for the cenotaph as well. The first president of the Legion would be G.A. Scott, who served from 1947 to 1948.
As membership grew, the building became too small and that is when it was decided that a new building was needed. A meeting was held on April 14, 1970 to consider purchasing the Moen’s Locker Plant. It was agreed that the building would be purchased, and remodeled. The Legion once again borrowed money and volunteers got down to work remodeling the building.
The front part of the building was set up as the Millet Library, and the old meat cutting room became a kitchen. The locker plant in the back of the building became a meeting hall. The remodel was officially finished on April 24, 1971.
While the Legion has seen its membership fall as First World War veterans passed away and Second World War veterans aged, membership was opened to all Canadians who wanted to help support veterans. The Legion continues to play an important part in the community to this day, handing out $14,700 in grants just this past spring.
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Information for this column comes from Tales and Trails of Millet Volume 1.