History of Grandona Legion Branch #124
In 1925, the Dominion Veterans Aliance was formed to help returned servicemen in need. The Legion was founded in November of 1925 in Winnipeg Manitoba as The Canadian Legion of the British Empire Services League (BESL). The principal objectives of the Legion were to provide a strong voice for World War I veterans and advise the government on veterans’ issues. A Legion Branch was organized in the Iona area after World War I, but due to veterans living so far apart, it was a difficult task to attend meetings. Because of the distance and other difficulties, this Legion did not last long.
World War II brought an influx of new demands and the Legion increased efforts to help veterans and returned service members. Upon being discharged from the Armed Forces, veterans were prevailed upon to join a branch of some Legion. This seemed easy enough, but Legion Branches which were already organized were a great distance away from the area and transportation was not readily available at the time. With the influx of veterans to the Iona area, numerous discussions were held among veterans at many locations, including the CN station. It was decided to make another attempt at forming a Branch of the Legion. Word was passed around that on the 27th of February there would be an organizational meeting held in the old Iona restaurant owned by Alex (M.B.) MacDonald, a veteran of W.W.I.
The Grandona Branch No. 124 of The Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League, held their first official meeting 23 March 1948 in the Parish Hall, Iona N.S. Enrolment of members numbered 27 plus 3 former members of the Victoria Branch Legion.
At this meeting, the following officers were elected:
President - Major Gordon M. MacNeil
1st Vice President - F. X. MacNeil
2nd Vice President - Rod Farrell
3rd Vice President - Hugh J. Murphy
Secretary - D. W. Gillis
Treasurer - Daniel J. D. MacNeil
Guard - John M. MacKinnon
The matter of a suitable name for the Branch was discussed. Names which were favored were “THISTLE”, “RALSTON” and “GRANDONA”. This was put to a vote and the winning name, as is obvious today, was “GRANDONA“.
Over the next several years, meetings were held in the Iona Parish Hall, the Christmas Island Parish Hall and at homes in Grand Narrows. The Grandona Branch No. 124 received it’s Charter on the 5th day of Apr 1948. In August of 1949 discussions began to take place to purchase the Iona Common School (Low School) for a Legion Hut. A $300.00 payment was made to the Iona Low School as partial payment for the building.
In February of 1960, once again discussions took place to look for a suitable site for a new building. In March of that year, it was agreed to purchase the Campbell property and proceed with plans to move the existing Hut or construct a new building. In July, the property was purchased from Mrs. John F Campbell. In October, due to the excessive cost of preparing the property as well as moving the existing hut, the decision was made to commence plans for the construction of a new building.
In October of 1962, ground work was commenced for the construction of a new Legion building. In December of that year, $5000.00 was borrowed for the new Legion.
In November of 1964, discussions were underway to form a Ladies Auxiliary at the Branch. One month later the Ladies Auxiliary was formed. In September of 1965, approval was given by the members to complete the basement.
In July 1970, $10,000.00 was borrowed for renovations to the building which would include an addition. In September of that year construction began on the addition to the Legion building. In June 1975 discussions again began to take place for another expansion to the building.
In July 1980, approved was given by the members to purchase property next to J M MacNeil for $5500.00.