Remembrance Day heartbreak as another legion packs it in
RODNEY, ONT. -- For just about everyone in small-town Rodney, Ont. the local Royal Canadian Legion holds a memory.
“48 years ago i held my wedding reception here,” says West Elgin Mayor Duncan McPhail, who also recalls gatherings for funerals and for major celebrations.
“I was here the night the Blue Jays won the World Series for the very first time. So, this place is full of memories for this community.”
But the times for Rodney’s Royal Canadian Legion Branch #525 have drastically changed.
The sign out front tells the story.
Listed for sale, the hall, in need of extensive repairs, is on the market for $125,000.
Zone A District Commander Mark Rogers says the members were left with little choice.
“I think their membership is only 37 members right now, so that’s a very small base. And they have a lot of older members, who’ve done a lot of work over the years, and you just get tired and burned out after a while.”
There were efforts to keep the legion alive. Just a year ago, a meeting was held to discuss selling the building and moving to a smaller location, but ultimately Rogers said it just did not work out.
“The volunteers aren’t there, and with their building, their building issues, it’s just so expensive to maintain.”
Before going on the the market, the hall was offered to the municipality, but the mayor says getting it up to code for civic purposes would have cost $2 million.
West Elgin Mayor Duncan McPhail speaks in Rodney, Ont. on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (Sean Irvine / CTV News)
Now, with potential offers said to be on the table, the membership will meet on Nov. 5 to discuss options.
The mayor hopes the land will be redeveloped into seniors' housing.
“I hope they will see the value in the property and turn it into something useful for the community,” McPhail says.
And if that happens it might ease the pain for a legacy lost just prior to Remembrance Day.
“When you lose a friend, it hurts,” McPhail concludes.
The remaining members of the Rodney Legion are being encouraged to join the branches in neighbouring communities including West Lorne.