Miramichi legion branch becomes 'Club 10' to stay viable

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Miramichi legion branch becomes 'Club 10' to stay viable

Miramichi's Royal Canadian Legion Branch 10 has changed its name, moved in above the Goody Shop restaurant in Newcastle and adopted a new outlook on legion-run events.

"This is more of a bar atmosphere than you would usually see in a legion and we have changed our name to Club 10," said Peter Murphy, branch president.

"It has more appeal to the public. We're exploring new types of entertainment to improve the business side of things which we really need right now."

The legion sold its old building 10 years ago and leased one of three floors from the new owner after organizers realized they could no longer keep up with the bills.

When the lease expired, Branch 10 decided to cut costs even further by moving to a smaller space.

"This is a new lease on life for us," said Murphy.

Club 10, located at 20 Fountain Head Lane, above the Goody Shop on the downtown square, has already hosted several concerts and operates as a bar.

"That's what we have to do," Murphy said. "We raise money through our poppy campaign but it all goes back to services for veterans. We can't use that money to operate our facilities."

Elsewhere in New Brunswick, other legion branches have struggled to keep their doors open and some are trying to find buyers for their buildings.

In Bathurst, the Branch 18 building has been for sale for over a year and the asking price has dropped. In Dalhousie, the Branch 17 building is up for sale.

"The number of veterans is dropping but there are still a considerable number," said Murphy.

The legion has offered different categories of memberships: for veterans, veterans' families and affiliates, or people who don't fall into the first two groups.

Branch 10 still supports several nursing homes and the local hospital where veterans receive care.

But because of the shrinking number of elderly veterans paying legion memberships and the less active interest from younger veterans, the traditional funding model had to be re-examined, Murphy said.  

Response from legion members to the changes has been positive, so far.

"Everybody that has come in, they like the atmosphere," said Murphy. "It's much brighter than the old place."