By Grace Oborne
Laughter and big smiles fill the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 636 in Minden each week as residents and town visitors stop by for fun and fellowship during its various activities on offer.
On Thursday, July 28, the Legion welcomed individuals to play an old-fashioned game of euchre.
Though many showed up to enjoy a night out, ever since the pandemic, the turnout has been slow causing other Legion activities such as art classes and darts, to discontinue.
“Before COVID, we had a lot more going on at the Legion but when people get away from doing things for two or three years, it’s slow coming back,” said Legion president, Wendy Bolt.
For many locals, it is important to have a place like the Legion to come to engage with others. Doris Robertson, a regular euchre player, expresses that it’s a necessity to keep the Legion up and running.
“I like to play euchre no matter where it is. I live alone so it gives me something to do, to look forward to. But it’s kind of nice to keep the Legion alive because it’s been a part of our heritage for one thing. Our soldiers fought for our freedom and we’re free to come.”
Bolt puts emphasis on the fact that anyone from the community is welcome, even if they’re not a veteran.
“The Legion is not just a place for veterans, it’s a place for the community and we wanted to encourage community members to come back. We have a lot of seniors that come in, so the activities we put on are very important to us,” Bolt said.
“We would love people to join our Legion and be members. It would also be very helpful to us if they did join. The bottom line is that we want to be a service to the community. We want everybody to participate. If there are veterans in the area that aren’t members, we can still help them if they need help.”
It’s important, especially for seniors, to be social and play cards, like euchre, with friends and family.
Euchre takes place on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. and Thursdays at 7 p.m. but is not the only activity that the Legion puts together. On Mondays at 10 a.m., rug hooking is offered, and on Thursdays at 1 p.m. cribbage is available to play. It is about $3 to play each game.
Beyond games, the Legion has meals for locals and visitors daily. Specifically, on Friday at 11 a.m. and again from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., the Legion serves fish and chips. Fish and chips are one of the Legion’s specialties and is a town favourite.
“The legion is a friendly place, and the food is good,” said a local cottager, Cherie Wright.
Chris Burton, the Legion’s sports officer, says that their activities are a way to help individuals feel a sense of normalcy after the pandemic.
“It’s to get people to know the Legion and to have activities for seniors. To help people out and to get people back to their normal life. We’ve had two years of not doing anything.”
Volunteers for the Legion take pride in helping others wherever possible. Sometimes it can be difficult for everyone to get to the Legion, so volunteers offer their services.
“We have lots of parking and, if people ever need rides, we’ve been known to go and pick up people and bring them if they want to come and play cards. We’ll try and help however we can if we know people need some assistance,” Bolt said.
Dan Penney is a regular at the Legion and enjoys his nights where he can play different games, specifically euchre.
“It takes some of the stress away and it’s very relaxing. It’s also a cheap night out. That’s what it’s all about, spending time with friends. The Legion is supportive, and they put out a lot of things in the community for the seniors and for veterans.”
For more information and to keep up to date with the Legion see their Facebook page at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 636 or m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=203136639860358.