From the left

From the left

Ladies Legion Auxiliary going strong 65 years later

When they first started in 1948, the Ladies Legion Auxiliary in Red Deer was 11 members strong. Now, 65 years later, the group has 148 members, far removed from its peak of more than 400, but still enough to keep the group going. The members don’t do the same things they used to, but they still have an impact on Red Deer.

When they first started in 1948, the Ladies Legion Auxiliary in Red Deer was 11 members strong.

Now, 65 years later, the group has 148 members, far removed from its peak of more than 400, but still enough to keep the group going.

The members don’t do the same things they used to, but they still have an impact on Red Deer.

Grace Scott, now 92, was president of the auxiliary from 1953-54.

She was one of the original founding members in 1948.

Her husband served in the armed forces for five years in Italy and throughout Europe during the Second World War and joining the ladies auxiliary was an outlet to help her husband and the Legion.

Once a year, Scott and other members would put flowers on the graves of soldiers from the area.

“We worked with the men for decoration day,” said Scott. “One day a year, they decorated all the veterans’ graves.”

They used real flowers provided by the city gardener. The women would do them up into little bouquets and spend a day putting them on the graves every June.

“We tried to do the banquet for Remembrance Day,” said Scott. “We always paraded and put wreaths on the cenotaph downtown.”

Then they would go to the Legion hall, the cadets would get a free coffee, the men would get a drink and then they would close the bar and go out to Sylvan Lake and help its Legion until it closed at 6 p.m.

“And then we’d come back and start all over again at our Legion,” said Scott.

The Ladies Legion Auxiliary was founded mostly to support the main branch.

The Legion was a haven for returning servicemen at the time.

“We worked for them to help them in any way possible,” said Win Ledieu, the auxiliary’s oldest active member at 89.

“Without the auxiliary, the Legion would not exist.”

Ledieu came to Canada as a war bride.

She and her husband both served during the Second World War.

Although the auxiliary continues to support the Legion, the group donates money raised to various local organizations, including the lending cupboard, Salvation Army and other non-profits. They even sponsor a ringette team.

“All the work you do, it feels good to know that you are helping people out,” said Audrey Livingstone, another member of the auxiliary. “At the end of the year, you raise $24,000 or whatever and it has to all be donated.”

The auxiliary keeps on going because the Legion needs it and the support it provides.

Most of the fundraising comes from the Remembrance Day lunch and funeral teas is offered for anyone.

It is a struggle for the auxiliary to get new members.

“It was our outlet,” said Ledieu. “We had the children all day and that was our social life.”

The group of veterans that built the Legion mostly came from the Second World War, but the more recent veterans have not been as likely to join after their service.

A couple of years ago, Afghanistan war veterans were given year memberships as a gift.

“They will come but I think it will take a little longer,” said Ledieu.

The Legion is always looking for new members and people no longer have to join under a veteran.

On May 26 at 2 p.m. at the Red Deer Legion Hall, at 2810 Bremner Ave., there will be speeches from dignitaries, food and cake all in celebration of the 65th anniversary of the Legion Ladies Auxiliary.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com