The Red Deer Legion’s airplane propeller is moved to the former Penhold base by the Harvard Historical Aviation Society. (Contributed photo by Debi Winegardner).

Red Deer Legion finds new homes for military mementos

Downsizing means making hard decisions, says president

New homes have been found around Central Alberta for the Red Deer Legion’s heavy-duty military memorabilia — including howitzer gun, anchor, tank gun barrel and airplane propeller.

Smaller mementos, including uniforms and medals, have been taken in by the Red Deer Armouries.

But Legion president Bev Hanes is still concerned about what to do with some legion history preserved in paper. “Just like with any downsizing, you can’t keep everything,” she said.

Since the Red Deer Legion sold its Bremner Avenue building, it will be leasing only a third of its former space. This leaves little room for displays of historic war artifacts or document storage.

Hanes hoped to pass on some paperwork to the Red Deer museum or archives, but discovered “everybody is pushed for space.” This means she will have to make some hard decisions in days to come.

“It’s been rough… and I don’t want to throw away anything that someone might think is relevant later on,” said Hanes.

The Red Deer Legion’s office staff have been holding garages sale of furnishings and also arranging for the departure of some heavy cargo. (The final garage sale of kitchen wares and other mostly non-military items will be held Friday evening and on the weekend).

Since the building’s new owners did not want the artillery that was displayed on the Red Deer Legion’s front lawn, it had to be moved to new locations — often with cranes.

Hanes said the airplane propeller was picked up by the Harvard Historical Aviation Society in Penhold. The Howitzer gun went to the Red Deer Armouries, and the ship’s anchor — a 1,600-pounder, made in Quebec City in 1943 for the escort ship, HMC Joliette, will now sit in front of the Innisfail Legion.

There’s still the long tank gun barrel to move. Hanes said it’s supposed to be picked up this month by members of the Elnora Legion.

She has mixed feelings about all the divestment.

Some of these war artifacts have been part of the Red Deer Legion since before it moved to that location in 1981. But Hanes noted the members who felt most connected to them have now mostly passed away.

Families have donated many items, which the legion never had the space to exhibit. Some were stored in a garage, so she hopes the new owners will be able to display them.

Like many seniors who have had to downsize, Hanes has discovered, “It’s quite an operation.”

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