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November 10th, 2020 — A Letter from Your Birdie on Remembrance Day

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November 10th, 2020 — A  Letter from Your Birdie on Remembrance Day
Photos of Frederick J. Knight in the British Army in WW1 who immigrated to Cowansville, Quebec and was one of the founding members and president of Branch#99 Canadian Legion in Cowansville,Quebec

Dear Grammy and Grampy,

Tonight I felt I should write you a letter because it’s almost November 11th. It was always a hallowed event in the Knight family each year and we were up with the birds that day as Grammy used to say. Mocha cakes had to be finished for the Legion refreshments, shoes and medals polished, and bodies attempted to get warmed up in advance for the parade.

Things have changed this year for Remembrance Day. There is a pandemic going on called COVID 19 and this year’s memorial ceremony is by invitation only. But, you will be pleased to know I have an invitation as I am a town councillor and I am honoured. I know you worry Grammy if I am well, and I am, and I will bring along a small chair this year as I can’t stand long. Last week I tripped on a rug, in of all places, a senior residence and my knee is blue and swollen. 

Cowansville Remembrance Day- Ville De Cowansville

I know Grampy has reminded you already that I should keep that stiff upper lip going and a Knight family member respects our veterans. I promise I won’t hover my rear end over the chair too long. Grampy’s stories of how hard life was in the cold and the muddy trenches in France have not been forgotten. Not one word Grammy, not one word of what he and others went through during the first World War. It will never leave my mind.

We have a Legion here in Carleton Place (Branch #192) and Mississippi Mills (Branch #240) and the people are wonderful just like Legion Branch #99 in Cowansville, Quebec. Things are not good for the Legions these days because of Covid. The Legions are just scraping by because donations are down and they can’t have their fundraisers or congregate. They now have to worry about how they are going to remain solvent from month to month.

Somehow the branches are managing to pay their bills but Winter is coming and the heating season begins. The Legions are at risk of closing forever, and 1 in 10 could permanently close this year. I know Grampy’s eyes are full of tears, because I know how hard Grampy worked to open branch Number 99 in 1946. Legions should never close, and I just hope that it isn’t too late for some of our branches if help does come from the government soon.

Army – Military – Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day. From g. to d. John Turner, Lionel Belanger, Joseph-Leon Deslièresres, Roland Désourdy, Rev. Carl Gustafson, Jean-J. Bertrand (Quebec premier), Rev. H. J. Isaacs, F. J Knight (The president of the local legion) (Grampy) (The Voice of the East, November 13, 1957) Photo Ville De Cowansville

Each Remembrance Day I can still hear Grampy yelling out orders in the parade: ‘left right, left right’, even though I was the last one in the parade every year. I never understood why the Brownies were placed at the end and I was always pulling up the rear in my too short Brownie outfit, bare legs with knee socks with my Hush Puppies on and no boots. Standing at the cenotaph freezing to death and chattering with friends I always got the stink eye from Grampy who was always watching me. I could never avoid his stern gaze. ‘Respect, Linda, respect, remember what these men did for you’.

The solo bugle playing The Last Post would always make the odd strange noise from the cold outside on the first few notes and the freezing November breeze would circle around my legs turning them bright red. I could see tears in my Grandfather’s eyes, remembering his friends that never made it home. He just hoped they knew that we all still cared and remembered them.

Each Remembrance Day I remember, and I still remember the Remembrance Day pasts. I wish for a lot of things, but now besides remembering all the veterans I pray and hope for the saving of our local Legions. As you said Grampy: ‘I have seen war. I hate war!’

For years you lived in pain from being gassed in the trenches. As you said each time you had a migraine: ‘ I’ll be okay, but in the meantime I just have to hold strong’. We are trying Grampy, we are trying to keep these Legions and the memories going, but in the meantime like you we too just have to hold strong right now and stand firm.

I miss you so much..

Your ‘Birdie’,

Linda

Linda Knight Seccaspina Christmas 1953

This Remembrance Day have one less coffee, one less treat and please DONATE to your local legion. They are counting on you! Thank you!

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Carleton Place- Branch 192

Donations are respectfully received at the Branch or by mail. Drop in for a visit any time the branch is open or make your donation by mail to Royal Canadian Legion Box 248, 177 George Street Carleton Place, ON K7C 3P4 State whether your donation is to Legion Branch 192 or The Poppy Campaign.

Our hours are restricted at this time because of Covid19 Check our facebook page for our current hours of operation. At this time they are Thurs 4 to 8 pm and Fri 3 to 7pm but subject to change

Almonte Branch 240

Donations to the Almonte Legion Br 240 can be done via e-transfer at: donations@rcl05240.ca or by cheque payable to Almonte Legion, Br 240 and mailed to PO Box 1090, 100 Bridge St., Almonte, ON, K0A 1A0 or by dropping into the Branch during our reduced hours which are: open at 4:00 pm on Thursday and Friday and 3:00 pm on Saturday.

In memory of my Grandfather Frederick J. Knight in the middle with the mason apron on.

Special to the Gazette

Cowansville, July 4, 1946 – The Canadian Legion, Cowansville branch, will inaugurate Monday at 8.30 p.m., a drive to erect a fitting Cowansville Veteran’s Memorial Hall building in this city.

Members of the Cowansville Branch, No. 99, of the legion are seeking premises containing necessary rooms for meetings and recreation. The site for the building has been given by Miss Nina M. Nesbitt, of Cowansville, and plans for the building have been provisionally approved.

On the evening of the inauguration the speakers will be His Worship Mayor E.A. Boisvert, Maj. Gen. C.B. Price, D.S.O., D.C.M., E.D., president of the Canadian Legion, and Capt. Henry Gonthier, past provincial president.

Veterans will then parade through the streets of Cowansville and a street dance will follow. The board of trustees is composed of Mayor Eugene Boisvert, L.L. Bruck, H.F. Vilas, A.G. Scott, D.J. Barker. Co-chairmen of the Cowansville Legion Memorial Hall Building Fund are, R.L. Brault and J.H. Wood, M.B.E., E.D. The president of the local legion is F.J. Knight.

Organized only last March 14 (1944), the Cowansville Branch of the Canadian Legion (Branch No. 99) has become one of the most active of the Province’s Legion branches. Originally formed with 20 veterans, the organization has grown to 65 in a short period of less than a year, and is now engaged in mapping plans for the re-establishment of veterans of World War II. Legion Colors were dedicated on October 8, 1944 at an impressive ceremony in the front of the Heroes’ Memorial High School at which Provincial President, Hugh Perry, and his First V. P., J. G. Gonthier, were in attendance. One of the important tasks, now being carried on by the veterans, is the education of the public at large concerning their obligations to ex-serviceman. Other projects include rehabilitation and relief and personnel counselling, the latter being carried on with the complete co-operation of the Veterans’ Welfare Bureau in charge of Eli Boisvert.

Plans for the erection of a Legion Memorial Hall after the war are presently under consideration, and will include a cenotaph built in a section of the hall, for various veteran and community affairs. This structure will be built as a living memorial to the Cowansville boys and girls now serving on Active Service. The Heroes’ Memorial High School was erected as a memorial of those who fell during the last Great War. Legion officers elected for 1945 include: President, F. J. Knight; First Vice-President, A. G. Scott; 2nd Vice-President, R. Brault; Sergeant-at-Arms, H. Pugh.

Branch 99 Cowansville, Quebec. Facebook Page- Click

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Address: 120 Boulevard Davignon, Cowansville, QC J2K 1N8 HoursOpen ⋅ Closes 5 p.m.Phone(450) 263-3543

The Montreal Gazette, July 6, 1946
COWANSVILLE HALL SOUGHT BY COWANSVILLE LEGION
Special to the Gazette
Cowansville, July 4 – The Canadian Legion, Cowansville branch, will ignaugurate Monday at 8.30 p.m., a drive to erect a fitting Cowansville Veteran’s Memorial Hall building in this city.
Members of the Cowansville Branch, No. 99, of the legion are seeking premises containing necessary rooms for meetings and recreation. The site for the building has been given by Miss Nina M. Nesbitt, of Cowansville, and plans for the building have been provisionally approved.
On the evening of the inauguration the speakers will be His Worship Mayor E.A. Boisvert, Maj. Gen. C.B. Price, D.S.O., D.C.M., E.D., president of the Canadian Legion, and Capt. Henry Gonthier, past provincial president.
Veterans will then parade through the streets of Cowansville and a street dance will follow. The board of trustees is composed of Mayor Eugene Boisvert, L.L. Bruck, H.F. Vilas, A.G. Scott, D.J. Barker. Co-chairmen of the Cowansville Legion Memorial Hall Building Fund are, R.L. Brault and J.H. Wood, M.B.E., E.D. The president of the local legion is F.J. Knight.

Fred and Mary Knight of Cowansville, Quebec, I miss them dearly.

I Saw Santa…..

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When I was a child I remember every children’s event that we had at the Legion Branch #99 in Cowansville, Quebec. We always went to the Legion for happy occasions such as summer picnics or Christmas parties, or sometimes even weddings.

 

Each year all of us local children looked forward to that Sunday afternoon at the Legion’s Children’s Christmas party. One by one they would call our names and we would tell Santa our hopes and dreams for Christmas and then tear open our present which was usually a puzzle or a paint by number set.

 

Today, there are still memories of hard wooden chairs, lots of adult chatter over beer and the ozone proof cigarette smoke cloud hanging over the room. Everyone was so nice to us and I assume today they all watched their language when we were around. The memory of war in the 1950s was still fresh in everyone’s mind and by eavesdropping to some of those adult conversations then you would have thought the war had ended about a week ago.

 

Fast forward many decades and I live in Ontario now. I try and go to the Legion Branch #192 breakfast every month as entering any Legion is timeless and it brings back great memories. Saturday I got there very early to celebrate “Breakfast with Santa” just as excited as I was when I was a child.

 

As I ate my delicious breakfast I searched the crowd for Santa but he hadn’t arrived yet. Thirty minutes later I asked someone where Santa was. Apparently Santa was going to be hanging out on the lower floor, so I made my way down there wanting to have a photo with him. It seemed oddly quiet as I walked down the hall. As I glanced into one of the rooms there was Santa in all his glory in his red underwear getting dressed. I was mortified to have disturbed the jolly man, and quickly apologized as I ran up the stairs.

 

When I was a child I used to go to bed Christmas Eve fully clothed as I didn’t want Santa to see me in my underwear. My Dad also used to tell me if I stopped believing in Santa I would only get underwear as a gift. Well, I saw Santa’s underwear last Saturday. Truthfully, I am glad I have always believed in Santa as none of us gals needs to wear red stretchy underwear like that!

 

Apologies Santa, and in reality Santa, I have been very good this week. So, let’s just focus on that!

 

Merry Christmas!

It Takes a Lot of Wind to Blow a BagPipe

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It Takes a Lot of Wind to Blow a BagPipe

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In 1961 in the space of one  year the Carleton Place Pipe Band performer publicly testifying to hours of hard work to  turn a bunch of beginners into a competent band of musicians. Ex Cameron Highlander proposed the idea to Carleton Place’s  Legion Branch #192 to found a band under the auspices of  the local legion. They received permission to use the Legion’s name but at that time the Legion was carrying a large debt so they could not help the band financially.

Bill Keen, a piper of over 50 years from Almonte was recruited to act as an instructor along with one cracked chanter and three devoted pupils. As each of them progressed to the real thing from the chanter and the tabletop they used Bill purchased the instrument needed which at that time was $90 for bagpipes and $70 for drums. Their goal was to play publicly November 11, 1959.

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1961

Since money was low there was no extra funds for kilts so they all chose a uniform of Grey pants which everyone owned, battle dressed tunics dyed blue, white shirts and Legion ties. As November 11th approached hours of practise took a toll on the band and there was actually a casualty. One of the junior drummers was far too enthusiastic in learning new twirling skills and accidentally  hit himself in the nose drawing blood and a week later lost his sticks when he accidentally threw them out the window.

On the 11th they led the Remembrance Day parade in Carleton Place and in the afternoon the town of Almonte welcomed them. The only mishap was that the bagpipes froze slightly–but after everything they had been through that was only a small mishap.

 

 

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1961

The group practised over the winter but still the issue of uniforms came up– and the money issue was no better. Instead of giving up they held monthly pipe band dances at the Legion to try and solve the dilemma. Along with the monies from the dances the local bank backed a loan for $1000 and an order for kilts, spats, sporrans and hose tops was placed. The kilts from Scotland took about two months to arrive and the first appearance of a well dressed band was at a Legion Hall dance in 1960. There were 14 members of the band at this point and a dozen others practising under Major McGregor of Lanark. The Carleton Place Bagpipe Band in the end became so much more than a band. What would life be without bagpipes?

 

 

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  02 Oct 1961, Mon,  Page 20

 

The Carleton Place Kazoo Band — Great Moments in Kazoo History

When The Carleton Place Citizen’s Band Came Marching in to Lanark

And the Carleton Place Citizens Band Played On For Leah Bryce – Jean Craig — Irene Chamney– and Ruth Brown

The Beckwith Highlanders and “Humpy Billy” Moore

I Belong to Glasgow in the Month of August

 

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We Need Loonies for the Carleton Place Legion–Branch 192

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As a child I remember a time when my families branch of the Royal Canadian Legion was packed. Members and families flocked to the Davignion Blvd Branch #99 building in Cowansville, Quebec each week without fail. Those were memories of good times, but today the times are different.

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It’s no secret that our Canadian Legion branches are struggling to survive. Sadly, it’s not only an issue of fading veterans and difficult fund raising– it just seems to be a tragic sign of the times. For anyone that doesn’t realize what a Legion is or was, it’s just isn’t a club for veterans and drinking. Once upon a time it was the centre of many communities. Think back to the times you went to a legion hall for weddings, Christmas parties and other events. I am sure there are very few of you that don’t have a passing memory.

 


Ontario has approximately 415 Canadian Legion branches and about 140,000 members. A lot of those very legions now face infrastructure issues, including our very own Branch 192 in Carleton Place. Member attendance has become a difference between the two eras. Instead of spending five years in the service, it’s seen more as a career option now. It’s a different time.

There are about 10% of these very dedicated branches that are closing annually now. Participation and fundraising is down. Branch 192 is trying to do more with a lot less people, because of the aging veterans. The survival rate is presently five years for some of our Canadian legions. Do we want Branch 192 in Carleton Place to suffer the same fate?

Our Carleton Place legion is now left to figure out how they can continue to serve the community and veterans, while remaining viable and keeping the lights on and the leaks out. Branch 192 of the Royal Canadian Legion is turning to the community for help due to mounting financial pressures. Just one loonie from each person in Carleton Place could solve a lot of problems. Don’t let the taps play out for our branch.

 

 

For more information about the legion or to make a donation, contact Brian Comeau at bc3comeau@gmail.com or call the legion at 613-257-1727.

Let’s do it for our dedicated Legion members and for Ron Roe that once set up the Hall of Valor

Read Tara Gesner’s interview with Brian Comeau here.

Let’s Break the Internet! Make Carleton Place’s Branch 192 Legion Video Go Viral!

 

Thank you to the Carleton Place Legion Branch for creating this video. What a beautiful, supportive town we live in. Enjoy and let’s share it everywhere and make it go viral! If the Kardashians can break the internet, so can we! Let’s break the Internet for the Carleton Place Legion!