Bowen Island Legion Branch 150 held a family celebration last Saturday to mark 75 years of existence, with events in the parking lot and inside taking place throughout the day. Brickhouse, a funky Vancouver R & B band who's played at the Bowen Pub, kept a packed house dancing throughout the night.
Tim Hausch, president of the Legion, said that this was one of two celebrations they plan for the year; the other will be more formal and closer to Remembrance Day. "This first one was just to have the community over for some fun," Hausch told the Undercurrent.
During the day there was bingo, face painting and other events for kids and many Bowen wee ones showed up to take part. There was a community meal that included a roast pig and corn on the cob.
Our Legion was formed in 1936, 11 years after the organization began existence in Canada. It was started by a group of First World War Island veterans and while it started small, the Legion keeps growing.
Nairn Knipe, a past secretary, treasurer and president, says the Legion has over 160 members. Those first members met at one another's homes until members built the hall on Scarborough in 1965.
"The community seems to have a connection to the Legion - it's been around as a community meeting place for as long as many people can remember," Hausch said, noting you don't have to have been in the military to join. "Just about anyone 19 or older, regardless of citizenship, can join."
Many members did serve but of the many who did not, a respect for the military and a desire to be part of a group of well-intentioned citizens were part of the reason they join. Hausch had family in the military - his grandfather was wounded in World War 1 and his father served.
"I joined the Bowen Legion when I moved here. I didn't know anyone and it was a place where I could help out and get to know people and the island," he says. "One thing led to another and they asked me to join the board and then to take over as treasurer for a year. Now with the support of a number of terrific volunteers, both on and off the board, I am on my third term as president."
Knipe also was not a member of the Canadian military but it ran in her family.
"My grandfather and father both served in France in the First World War," she says. "My father served in the Second World War and was Sergeant Major at the Old Vancouver Hotel."
She's been involved at the Bowen branch for 12 years.
The Legion sponsors many events on Bowen, including a dinner most Friday nights starting at 6 p.m., one of the more popular weekly events on Bowen's calendar.
Hausch said if you're not a member, you'll need someone to sign you in. If you don't know a member he can be contacted and will make arrangements.
They seek to increase membership but not simply for the sake of getting names on a list. "The Legion is run with a philosophy of being a part of the island community and regularly gives back both publicly and privately," Hausch said. "We are not looking to just increase membership as much as looking for members that will help out and continue to improve the Legion."
Details of the marking of the 75th anniversary in the fall will be announced later in the year.