A Homebase for Local Veterans

Ninety-three years ago, the Royal Canadian Legion was established with a purpose to bring veterans together in a place where they could unite with their comrades.

Today, the Legion has over 260,000 members with 1,400 branches across Canada and welcomes all members of the public to come to their establishments to remember the past efforts of heroism through war and to also connect residents with the present time and veterans who live to serve their country, as well as the active troops currently serving.

The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 165 is Fort McMurray’s local branch located at 9317 Huggard Street in the city’s Waterways neighbourhood. Its facility remained through the 2016 Wildfire, where 90 percent of its surrounding neighbors’ homes were damaged or destroyed.

According to the Edmonton Journal’s May 18, 2016 article, Pat Duggan of the Fort McMurray Fire Department saw the devastation and said it was a combination of luck and design.

“It didn’t hit me how lucky the building was until later. Your mind registers quite quickly that there’s work to be done. What’s still hot? What’s still salvageable? The emotional aspect came later,” Duggan told the Edmonton Journal.

Rewind to three years before in December 2013, the local Legion was in financial hardship and made a public call to the community about the building’s repairs needed to save it, after the province said it was too costly.

However, the Journal stated the “municipal council approved $495,000 in funding” in the spring of 2014 and the Legion’s membership “rose by more than one-third, allowing leadership to pay off debts.”

Today, the non-profit organization remains dedicated to help veterans and members of the public. As ambassadors of giving back, they have a long list of organizations, causes, and individuals that they have helped financially throughout the decades.

One of their many initiatives is the Legion Bursary Program. In March 2019, the local branch granted four $1,500 bursaries to applicants selected through two categories: Public and Veteran. Each applicant was required to write an essay with their submission.

The Legion also hosts various community events in its pub and banquet hall. On weekends, guests can take part in events like Games Nights, PubStumpers Trivia, Games Night and Latin Dance, to name a few. The Legion posts upcoming event regularly on their Facebook page.

On June 8, the Legion is hosting the 2nd Annual McMurray Marksman Competition from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., in partnership with the Fort McMurray Fish & Games Association.

A marksman is a person who is skilled in precision shooting with projectile weapons, and the Legion will be bringing special guest Rob Furlong to take part.

Furlong has his own academy – Rob Furlong Marksman Academy – based in Edmonton, Alberta.

The Academy focuses on helping people reach the highest proficiency in their careers, as well as their competitive shooting abilities.

To learn more about the Royal Canadian Legion, visit www.legion.ca and check out the local branch’s Facebook page @RoyalCanadianLegionMcMurrayBranch.

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