Manitoba History: Commemorating the Founding of the Royal Canadian Legion
by Parks Canada
On 12 June 2010 the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada hosted a ceremony to commemorate the founding of The Royal Canadian Legion in November 1925. The event was held in conjunction with The Royal Canadian Legion’s 43rd Dominion Convention on Smith Street, Winnipeg, directly in front of the Marlborough Hotel, the site of the organization’s founding as well as its first Dominion Convention. Since its establishment seven years after the end of the First World War, The Royal Canadian Legion has remained Canada’s largest veteran-based social and advocacy organization.
The ceremony was attended by, among others, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Hon. Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Mr. Wilf Edmond, Dominion President of The Royal Canadian Legion, and Dr. Robert O’Kell, Manitoba Member of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.
The Royal Canadian Legion
The First World War is widely held to be a landmark in Canadian national development. Although she entered the war in 1914 as a colony, by 1918 Canada was emerging as a nation in her own right. The young nation underwent many trials, one of which was the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of returning servicemen.
Of the Allied forces, Canada was a leader in devising plans for the retraining of disabled soldiers. In addition, this country’s pension rates were among the most generous in the world. In short, Ottawa had prepared for returning Canadian armies with a care and foresight that was virtually unique among the combatting nations.
Despite its best intentions, however, Ottawa was unable to address all the needs of the returning servicemen. As a result, several small associations of ex-soldiers banded together throughout the country in an effort to provide comradeship and help with medical and financial needs not provided by the Crown.
The founding meeting of the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League (later renamed The Royal Canadian Legion) took place at the Marlborough Hotel, 331 Smith Street, Winnipeg, from 25 to 27 November 1925. That meeting led to the establishment of Canada’s largest veteran-based social, service and advocacy organization. Founded on the twin pillars of loyalty and comradeship, the Legion’s primary purpose since inception has been service to the veteran (and his or her dependents) and perpetuating the memory of those who served.
The Legion’s advocacy efforts have facilitated such benefits for veterans as the War Veterans Allowance Act, the Veterans Charter, the formation of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Veterans Independence Program, and the new Veterans Affairs Charter of 2006.
The legacy of the Legion does not end with its unrelenting service to those who fought in the name of Canada. In fact, its program of remembrance, funded through the annual Poppy Campaign, has kept the memory of veterans and their sacrifices alive for Canadians and helped incorporate major military conflicts, particularly the First and Second World Wars, with their losses and triumphs, into the fabric of our national identity.
Page revised: 8 July 2016Back to top of page