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Royal Canadian Legion branch to be sold after being infiltrated by bikers

Woodbridge's Royal Canadian Legion Branch 414 has been shut down as of Feb. 12 for allowing outlaw motorcycle club members to attend Legion events wearing their 'club colours.' (Mike Smee/CBC - image credit)
Woodbridge's Royal Canadian Legion Branch 414 has been shut down as of Feb. 12 for allowing outlaw motorcycle club members to attend Legion events wearing their 'club colours.' (Mike Smee/CBC - image credit)

The Woodbridge branch of the Royal Canadian Legion has been shut down by the national body for an unusual reason: It had been infiltrated by outlaw motorcycle gang members.

The decision by the Legion's national executive was delivered in a letter to members of Branch 414, also known as the MacKenzie branch, dated Feb. 12.

"It is with great sorrow that I inform you that the charter of the MacKenzie branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, Ontario Provincial Command has been revoked due to the branch's overt association with outlaw motorcycle groups," says the letter, signed by the Legion's provincial president, Derek Moore.

"The overt wearing of outlaw motorcycle club colours at Legion events and premises is contrary to the Legion's Articles of Faith and disrespectful of the sacrifices made by our Veterans."

A letter from a lawyer, dated last year and taped to the door of  Branch 414, warns members that the branch's charter has been suspended. Last week, that charter was revoked after 75 years in operation.
A letter from a lawyer, dated last year and taped to the door of Branch 414, warns members that the branch's charter has been suspended. Last week, that charter was revoked after 75 years in operation.

A letter from a lawyer, dated last year and taped to the door of Branch 414, warns members that the branch's charter has been suspended. Last week, that charter was revoked after 75 years in operation. (Mike Smee/CBC)

The letter suggests the MacKenzie members transfer to nearby Legion branches.

Pam Sweeny, executive director of the Legion's Ontario Command, wouldn't talk to CBC Toronto about the situation other than to say this is the first time motorcycle gang members have found their way onto a legion branch's membership list.

It's not the first time the branch has found itself in the headlines though. Last year, the branch's former president and former treasurer were charged with fraud over $5,000 and possession of property obtained by crime.

Police allege more than $33,000 was stolen from the branch between 2017 and 2019. There's no indication that the theft and biker infiltration are linked.

As of Wednesday, the branch was locked up after 75 years of operation. CBC Toronto has reached out to former Mackenzie members but has not yet received any responses.

It's not clear which outlaw motorcycle gangs were using the branch and for how long, or why.

'Revocation… only choice': Legion executive

In the letter, the Legion's Ontario Command says it was tipped off by police that some of its members appeared to be bikers. York Regional Police told CBC Toronto they have not been involved in any investigation about bikers' involvement at the Woodbridge Legion. Calls to the OPP and the RCMP have not yet been returned.

The Legion began its own investigation last year, and the branch's charter was suspended in October 2023.

"We spent days, weeks and months gathering information and discussing the final decision on the MacKenzie branch and concluded that revocation was the only choice," said Moore in the letter.

He concludes by saying that the building and its contents will be sold. After debts are paid, Moore says that any remaining money "will go toward veteran-centric and community programs and supports."

Branch 414 was established in 1949. Legion halls are largely gathering spots for veterans of Canada's military, but membership has dwindled in recent years as veterans of the Korean War and WWII age.

Anyone with more information on this story should contact TorontoTips@cbc.ca