The History of
Burlingon Branch 60

Significant Dates: 1926 - 1930 - 1951 - 1959 - 1967 - 1980 - 2005

Canadian troops arrived home from the Great War with experiences which set them apart from those they left four short years before. They had traveled to Britain and from there to Europe; they had experienced events which no one had ever dreamed possible; and they had suffered the horrors of trench warfare, the wounding and the death of their fellow soldiers. As a result they felt the need of forming a bond with their fellow soldiers—a place to talk about their experiences, an organization which could help the wounded and a meeting place to let down their hair and have fun.

The Great War Veterans Association was founded in 1917. A branch was formed in Burlington, Ontario in 1920 and named Burlington Branch of the GWVA. Similar organizations or Legions were formed in Britain and other parts of the British Empire.

~ 1926 ~

In Canada the members of the GWVA met in Winnipeg in 1925-6 and drew up a charter creating the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Veterans Association. It came into being in the autumn of 1926. Burlington Branch 60 received its charter on November 10, 1926. A medal was presented by Dominion Command in 2001, to recognize all Branches who received their charter in the founding year of the Canadian Legion. Branch 60’s medal is in the display case in the Lounge.

Tom Waumsley, a prominent businessman (owning a news agency) in Burlington was President of Branch 60, GWVA. from 1920-26.  He became the first President of the new Branch 60 in the Canadian Legion of the British Veterans Association. The members met in various locations in the village (above stores or in the old post office on Brant Street) and collected dues on a monthly basis (50¢/month). An old minute book noted that if your dues were in arrears for six months you could not vote to elect the new executive!

~ 1930 ~

Three main objectives of the Legion were: to care for the war-disabled, the dependent and the needy, to keep alive public memory of the sacrifices of Canadians in the cause of world peace, and to promote unity of thought and effort among the people who make up the nation. The Royal Canadian Legion still strives to further these objectives. The Poppy Funds raised by the Branch help veterans and dependents whenever needed. Through the Legion Charitable Foundation Branch 60 contributes to the care and welfare of veterans in hospitals across Ontario.  The funds are also donated to worthy local causes such as dialysis machines. An old Branch 60 minute book from the 1930’s noted that 2,000 Poppies had been made up and the executive hoped the day would be nice so they would all sell. We now provide more than 103,000 Poppies for distribution in Burlington. Thanks to the generosity of Burlington residents our campaigns have been very successful. It is Burlington Branch 60’s duty and privilege to organize the annual Remembrance Day Service at the Cenotaph at Burlington City Hall.  A Youth Education programme encourages school children of all ages to enter Poster, Literary and Poetry contests which will raise awareness among the youth of the sacrifices our soldiers have made.  An annual public speaking contest aims to help our youth develop speaking and leadership skills. A bursary programme has been set up to help children and grandchildren of veterans.

The Ladies Auxiliary was created in the 1930’s. Its purpose was to provide a sister organization for the wives and daughters of the members of the Canadian Legion. The Burlington Branch Ladies Auxiliary received its charter July 6, 1935. The L.A. has worked continuously to support the Branch by raising money through catering and other activities. For example they contributed a great deal of money to build the modern upstairs kitchen and to install a much needed elevator in the Branch. The Ladies Auxiliary donates a great deal of money to the local community through its’ hard work at the Bingo Connection. Bursaries are provided for children and grandchildren of members.

The first permanent clubhouse was located in a closed Episcopalian Church on Elizabeth Street better known today as the Iron Duke (the present home of the Naval Cadets). The Branch grew significantly following WWII with so many men coming home, having again fought bravely and experiencing, once again, the horrors of war. It was time to move to a larger place. The Branch moved to the foot of Elizabeth, on Water Street, to a beautiful house with a wrap around verandah and plenty of room outside to have a horse shoe pit and picnics right on Lake Ontario.

~ 1951 ~

Upon examining the Charters on the wall in the Lounge you will notice that the name changed to Vinton Memorial (Ontario # 60), Canadian Legion of the British Empire Services League in January, 1951 to honour a respected member of the Branch.

~ 1959 ~

The last move took place in 1959 when the Branch moved to its present location. The town named the road which ran through the Branch property Legion Road. Branch 60 gave the land east of the road to found the Mayfield School for Retarded Children and donated much time and effort to help the school. This building is now the home of the Church of the Living Waters. The Branch contributes to many community endeavours such as the Food Share Programme, the Teen Tour Band, The Festival of Music and the Joseph Brant Hospital.

~ 1967 ~

A welcome addition was the creation of the Colour Party in 1967. The Colour Party has added a touch of class to our Branch and has represented us all over Ontario and Quebec. Their kilted uniforms are a well-received and welcome sight to the Burlington citizens as they lead Branch 60 down Brant Street on Remembrance Day.

~ 1980 ~

Meanwhile, the Canadian Legion was growing in size and membership. An edition was needed to expand the Branch and indeed it doubled in size with the addition in the early 1980’s. The ceremonial sod turning for the new addition did not include the Ladies Auxiliary so they held their own “sod tossing”!

The Canadian Legion was granted the right to be called the Royal Canadian Legion by the Queen on September 21, 1979.  The final change of Branch 60,s name was a move to return to the original name—Burlington (Ontario #60) of the Royal Canadian Legion on September 24. 1993.

Women veterans were always allowed to be members of the Canadian Legion. However liquor regulations banned them from the Lounge. The back of the Lounge (originally the Stuart Room) was a separate room reserved for Ladies and their escorts. Sons and daughters of veterans were admitted to the Legion as Associate Members about 35 years ago. Later wives of veterans were granted the same privilege. All Canadians and citizens of Commonwealth countries are now welcomed into the Royal Canadian Legion with all the rights, privileges and obligations of membership.

~ 2005 ~

In 2005 Branch 60 opened a war museum, located behind the Lounge. It houses artifacts mainly from WWII but also representative of other eras in Canadian History. The public is invited to view the museum.