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Royal Canadian Legion Branch 441, Kinmount

November 7, 2022

Kinmount Legion, 2021

By Guy Scott

With such an impressive record of military enlistment in both wars, Kinmount was a prime location for the formation of a branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. Charlie Cummmings organized a meeting in 1946 and the following charter members were signed on: R.W. Austin, A. Austin, Charlie Cummings, Mike Cummings, A.R. Douglas, W. Gilleland, Norman Gilmore, J. Mansfield, Reg McGrath, E.R. McGrath, Rev, Sigston, Dr. M. Ranney, J.E. Taylor, Percy Welstood, R. Currah, B.E. Young, Bill Mark and Les Emmerson. The Royal Canadian Legion #441 was officially chartered on November 15, 1946. It was christened the “John McGrath Branch” after the first Kinmount lad to fall in World War 2.

A site was next on the wish list. The ‘old’ school house stood on the current site and the residence was purchased for $600 and remodeled by the members. The site had to be in Galway Township, for Somerville Township was still “dry” meaning no alcohol could be served. This situation persists to this day! Many Kinmount residents were concerned that the legion lounge was located across the street from the school. A petition was circulated protesting the liquor licence, but a compromise was reached whereby the lounge only opened at 4:30, after school was over. The building was heated by a wood furnace and fires were kept going all night thanks to volunteers who fired the stove in shifts!

Branch #441 soon outgrew its antiquated building and it was obvious a new structure was needed. The new Legion was a big task for so small a group, but persistence and spirit were never in short supply. A mortgage was taken out and the 2 local lumber companies (Austin & Phillips) supplied materials on a ‘pay what you can’ basis. The present Legion Hall was completed by 1957 and by 1965 the mortgage was burned.

In the early days, a dance was held every Saturday night. The orchestra usually consisted of Norm Graham on fiddle, Jerry Silver & Elaine Strauss on guitar & Bert Bowrom on banjo. Albert Crego was the square dance caller. The doors were never locked and any member was welcome to use the hall as they wished. Women were only allowed in if accompanied by a member and only on Saturdays!

Much has changed over the years, but the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #441 Kinmount has maintained its community spirit. Benevolent would be a good term to describe the efforts of this community service organization. Hardly a group or event happens in Kinmount without the support of the Legion. As the last veterans fade from the scene, a new generation much emerge to ‘carry the torch.’ Where would Kinmount be without the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 441?

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