Royal Canadian Legion branches have, for many years been, and continue to be, a gem in the life of the community. Over the years they provided a social gathering place; a get together with other veterans or friends; and a venue for parties, wedding receptions, funerals, and other events. The Covid-19 virus has meant that many Legions have closed with the result that there is no source of funding to keep them alive. Over 150 will close for good and 300 are in dire straits financially and may have to close if the lockdown continues. The Almonte Legion, Branch 240, is in a reasonably good fiscal position and can survive the closure for a while yet. Hopefully, it will not be too long before the branch can re-open once the go-ahead is given. In this respect, opening regulations are being studied and work is proceeding to obtain all the items that need to be in place before welcoming members and friends to the branch once more.

In the meantime, and to take advantage of the closure, major structural changes are being made to the upstairs hall. All the panelling has been removed such that the previously covered windows have been exposed and daylight let in. The result, a major transformation to the look and feel and of the hall. Of course, there is still a large amount of work to be done to fit new windows and refinish the walls etc. For those of you who have visited the hall in past years, you will soon see what a difference the changes are making.

All the work associated with removal of the panelling and restoration of the window cavities has been undertaken by a group of super volunteers at no cost to the Legion. A “work in progress” picture is included to show what has been done to date. As with major projects of this scope, it is the restoration and finishing that can be costly. To make this happen the Legion is looking for funding or sponsorship sources to enable the hall restoration to be completed with the objective of having it completed by, or just after re-opening is permitted. At the time of writing 5 new windows have been donated and a total of 9 is required. Windows are $500 each.

In addition to the financial needs of the branch volunteer help is also welcomed, and you do not have to be a Legion member. If you are experienced in drywalling, woodworking, electrical or other trades or are willing to help in other ways the Legion would love to hear from you.

As Covid-19 lockdown measures continue the Legion executive committee meets every two weeks to plan and implement re-opening rules dictated by the Legion Province and Dominion commands as well as planning the hall restoration work stages.

In closing, the branch objective is to make the hall modern and welcoming to serve our veterans and our local community now and, in the future, as it has done in Almonte for over eighty years.

FOOTNOTE TO THE ABOVE. Comments were left on the branch Facebook page concerning replacement of the sign on the front of the building. A new sign was ordered but put on hold as spending was restricted following the Covid-19 lockdown. You may wish to consider a donation for the sign, and this will expedite its installation.

If you are able to donate financially or can offer physical help to assist the Legion contact the branch secretary, Robin Webb by email at Donations can be made directly to the Branch at Box 1090, 100 Bridge Street, Almonte, K0A 1A0. Cheques should be made out to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 240.