MONTREAL -- The Verdun Legion celebrated a big milestone this year—its hundredth anniversary—right before it shut down due to COVID-19.

That closure has highlighted how many people depend on legions. The one in Verdun has 150 regulars, most of them elderly veterans and some of them children of veterans.

And it’s not just a bar—its members do a lot of charity work like providing meals on wheels and checking up on seniors at home.

But its existence is not assured for long, it says.

Right now it’s losing about $5,000 a month and can’t pay the rent, it says. And it doesn’t have a normal bar business model, and therefore doesn’t qualify for a lot of the governmental financial aid on offer.

“In the legion most of our barmen, barmaids are all volunteers,” said Kenneth Ouellet, the president of the Royal Canadian Legion.

The situation is so bad that close to half of Quebec’s 105 legions could shut their doors forever in the next three months.

The Verdun Legion has appealed to Ottawa for help but hasn’t heard back, says its president, Stan Kircoff.

“Our plea to them is if you could help us out, give us like 3,000 a month or something, just to help out with the rent until we get back on our feet,” he says.

The members say they want people to remember that while legions have been around seemingly forever, that’s partly what makes them valuable in any given neighbourhood.

“They look after the people in Verdun, like if they need something, if they need help, we help them,” says Pete Randall, a member of the legion.