October 12th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 40
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Oldest Legion in Alberta turns 90
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Ezra Black Photo
Warrant Officer Charles Gresl, District 6 Commander Wayne Shaw and Cpt. Dan Rossi celebrating the Coleman Legion’s 90th birthday last week.
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
On Friday, Alberta’s oldest legion celebrated its 90th birthday in style.

The evening featured addresses by master of ceremony August Kollee, a prayer by Legion padre Renso Castellarin, MP John Barlow, Councillor Dean Ward and District 6 Commander Wayne Shaw.

It also included special addresses by career military men Cpt. Dan Rossi and Warrant Officer Charles Gresl.

Gresl and Rossi are both lifelong friends and Pass natives who made the long trip to the Pass from distant military bases in Manitoba to be present for the special occasion.

“It’s a big deal,” said Rossi. “It’s something very special.”

Coleman Legion president Ed Strembicki thanked Rossi and Gresl for their contributions to the event and said, “Those are the type of people we need to move Legions ahead.”

He further noted that out of 286 Legions in Alberta, 278, including the Coleman Legion are in financial trouble. He added that it was up to younger veterans and members of the general public to keep supporting the institution.
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“We’re dipping into savings,” he said. “There are only seven legions in Alberta making their month-end expenses.”

Still, financial hardships could not take away from the significance of the occasion.

“I feel elated, it was really good,” said Strembicki. “Everybody enjoyed themselves and we had good speakers. We have to remember what our Legions and what our military is for.”

The Coleman Legion, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 9, was founded on Oct. 6, 1926.

The first Legion in Alberta was named branch number nine and not branch number one in honour of its nine inaugural members.

The Legion has its roots in the formation of veterans groups who provided support for servicemen returning from World War One.
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According to the Royal Canadian Legion’s official history, there were a total of 15 veterans groups and a number of regimental associations representing former service members in Canada by the end of the First World War.

Despite their common goal of helping veterans in need, their efforts were fragmented. The groups were united with the founding of the Royal Canadian Legion in November of 1925 in Winnipeg, Manitoba as The Canadian Legion of the British Empire Services League. It was renamed The Royal Canadian Legion in 1960.
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October 12th ~ Vol. 85 No. 40
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