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Verdun Legion celebrates 100 years but future remains uncertain
Published Saturday, October 19, 2019 5:06PM EDT Last Updated Saturday, October 19, 2019 6:30PM EDT
For 100 years the Verdun Legion has been a second home to Canadian Armed Forces veterans but financial issues have left the institution’s future in doubt.
The Verdun branch is the oldest in Canada, first created by soldiers returning from World War I.
“When we started out there was a lot of members,” said member Michael Ryan. “It was a place to come after World War I.”
President Stan Kircoff said cribbage nights and dart leagues have the hall full multiple nights a week.
Despite the centenary celebrations, it’s unclear if the Legion will make it to its 103rd birthday. In 2013 the branch sold its historic home on Verdun St. and moved to a new rental location. The new spot underwent $500,000 worth of renovations but the lease expires in two years. Kircoff said there are limited funds in reserve to find a new home if the lease can’t be renewed.
“The revenue that we get from the cribbage and three dart leagues is just enough money to keep us afloat,” he said. “We still have some money in the bank to last us another two or three years but after that I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Executive officer Jack Shaw said closing would be a huge loss for members that have been around for decades.
“I’d be lost, I wouldn’t know where to go,” he said. “I’ve been here almost 30 years.”
Once boasting over 2,000 members the branch has faced declining membership in recent years. Kircoff said that despite it all, the Legion still provides a vital service to veterans.
“They get comrades, there’s friendship,” he said. “For people that are down and out it’s a place to come out and meet friends and have a drink and be part of the community.”