History Of The Branch
|The following was developed from information I gleaned from a booklet titled The First Sixty Years, published in May 1994. I enhanced this information from a booklet titled Royal Canadian Legion Branch 258 1934 to 2005, published in 2005.Thanks to Peter Prior who did the initial research on our history. If anyone has information or pictures etc from our past, the branch would be pleased to accept them.Have you ever wondered how and why Branch 258 started?
After WW I, in the late twenties and early thirties, many fathers would take their youngsters to the rink or ball park to participate in or watch the various sports. While children were playing, the parents would gather and discuss the news of the day.
Eventually, they decided to meet whenever possible for a social get together. During these social meetings, they discovered that most in attendance were indeed veterans. Consequently, they decided to apply for a charter in the Ontario Command of the British Empire Service League. The branch was named the Colonel T. Hebert Lennox Branch. As a result of forming a branch of this growing veteran’s organization, they were able to receive benefits, such as pensions, medical treatment for themselves and to establish aid for widows and dependents of veterans. Also by forming their own charter they were strengthening the overall Legion movement.
The original charter members were J. Fleury, D. Forgie, A.J. Gillard, W.R. Jenkins,J.F. Keeler, G. Lomas, H. Legard, G.A.Martin, A. McAskill, E. McInally, J.H. Moon, J.S. Schofield, J. Smyth, S. Wake, R.B Wells and R.H. Wright.
On May 18, 1934, the charter was granted and George Lomas became the first president. The first meetings were held in member’s homes. Although they managed to keep their charter, many of the original members responded to the call to arms at the outbreak of WW II. It was not until these veterans returned home did the meetings resume again.
On February 7, 1946, Provincial Secretary Comrade W.T. Burke reactivated their charter. Frank Keiller was elected President and meetings were held in Highland Creek Public School, The Pinder house and the Dog House.
Property was acquired at the present site on Lawson Road, which eventually totalled 10 acres. Construction began immediately on the first floor of the building which became the club room. In 1947, work continued and a second floor was added. The original building was on the west side of the current driveway where the north parking lot is now located.
In 1964, the branch name was changed to Highland Creek to keep a closer identity with the community. It was felt that with the new name, everyone would know where Highland Creek was. Also in that year we became the Royal Canadian Legion instead of the British Empire Service League, and the new Canadian flag was adopted by the Branch.
This building served the Membership until a disastrous fire occurred in October of 1976, which prompted the Members to vote for construction of a new building on the present site. The building was completed in May of 1981 with a bare minimum of needs for the members. Additions were made to the building, including the addition of the Tony Stacey Memorial Room, and some extra storage rooms.
Our current building was opened in May 1981.
Of the 10 acres that we owned, two and a half acres were donated to District “D” to build a Senior Veterans Home, which is the building on the east side of the current driveway and on the north side of the property. This building was named the Metro Toronto Legion Village. Many of our members have served on the Volunteer Board of Directors to look after the smooth running of the Home. Many of our members have served as Volunteers to look after the comfort of our Veterans in the Home. They staff the Gift Shop, act as drivers when they can, and they work at bingos, entertainment and fundraising events. Some of our members have taken up residence in the Home as their health and age has made it necessary. The Metro Toronto Legion Village was renamed to the Tony Stacey Centre for Veterans Care in honour of Comrade Tony Stacey who was our Branch President in 1962 and 1963. Comrade Tony Stacey brought us great honour by being elected as the Dominion President from 1986 to 1988.