The Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 10 celebrated the centennial anniversary of the Strathmore War Memorial Hall on July 11 with a ceremony rededicating it to include honours for soldiers of the Afghan war.
Bruce Westgard, president of the Legion, said he is extremely excited and honoured to be able to welcome in a new century for the building.
“I can’t explain it, really. I’ve been a member here for over 40 years and I was president once before and they voted me back in,” said Westgard. “It’s very hard to explain just what it means because it means so much to each one of us to be able to have something like this, to say thank you to our veterans, and also to say thank you to this great community that we live in.”
According to Westgard, Strathmore’s community came together to donate the sand and stones needed for the rededication of the war monument in front of the hall, and volunteers donated their time to bring the whole project together in time for the centennial.
Strathmore Mayor Pat Fule expressed a great deal of pride in the community for coming together and returning a favour to the Legion.
“I hope the Legion knows how much the town appreciates them … beyond just the building as a meeting point, the Legion membership does so much around the community and the town greatly appreciates their work and their volunteerism,” said Fule. “The people in Strathmore do support each other, they support things that are vital to the community and I was not surprised to see the number of volunteers who not only put on this weekend’s celebration event, but came together to put in work and material and labour to help honour our veterans.”
Westgard added in the 100 years since its construction, the War Memorial Hall has changed only as was necessary and the building remains much the same as it was originally.
Among the refurbishments included a new stage, though Westgard said that was done prior to his tenure, as well as some updated plumbing within the structure.
“At the beginning of the century here we didn’t have a very good bathroom setup, so we added one whole new section on and we got that opened up, and we opened up an upstairs hall,” said Westgard. “There’s a lot of it that has been worked on. The whole (West) side of the building, we refurbished that a few years ago. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s all great to see people being able to come back.”
Following the ceremony, as well as with the province seeing a decline in COVID-19 restrictions, Westgard said he hopes the community, local seniors and veterans return to the hall to gather and celebrate regularly.
“We are just hoping that now that COVID-19 has quieted down, that we will get back to being able to have our functions here again like we always did,” said Westgard. “Now that we have got it back open, I’m hoping that people start coming back and enjoying this building the way they have for the last 100 years.”
As the new plaque and rededication have been officially unveiled, the public is welcome to stop in to see the memorial and to pay their respects.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times