At Otterburn Legion Auclair Branch 121 in Otterburn Park, it was a day to remember the past. Current and former service members paid tribute to the fallen with a parade, music and the laying of wreaths.
The Otterburn Park Legion is home to some of the oldest veterans in the country, including 92-year-old Tom Hopley, who served on the front lines in the Second World War.
“I served in Belgium, Holland and Germany,” Hopley told Global News.
As they remember the past, however, there is concern for the Legion’s future. The building housing Otterburn Legion Auclair Branch 121 is in bad shape. Legion members say they are in dire need of a new roof.
“I don’t think we can survive another winter without addressing the issue,” said Legion president Eric Green.
“Being a non-profit organization, we don’t have thousands of dollars in the bank to address such an issue,” Green said.
The Otterburn Park Legion has been a pillar in the community since 1945. During the area’s 1998 ice storm, the group was a lifeline.
“During the 1998 ice storm, this was actually home to many in the community. During the two weeks — from the sixth to 23rd of January, 1998 — over 18,000 meals were served by an army of volunteers here,” said Lisa Rose, who is coordinating fundraising efforts for the legion.
Rose is not a veteran but got involved with the Legion after moving to Otterburn Park from the United Kingdom a few years ago.
Just above a poster commemorating what happened in 1998, there’s a hole in the ceiling caused by the leaking roof. The holes could be seen all over the main room, where veterans and service members assembled after the ceremony.
“The roof above our heads is crumbling currently. We’re busy trying to raise $25,000 to help with the repairs,” said Rose.
They’re trying to raise money from within the organization but say they need help.
“If it’s not fixed, it’s going cave in,” said Legion member Lucien Blaquière, who served for the Canadian military at home and abroad.
“We have a GoFundMe set up. We’ve also been receiving direct donations. We’ve been doing regular half-half draws in here. I’m preparing for a Christmas raffle and also going to be hosting a community Christmas tree project this year,” explained Rose.
If the roof caves in, it could mean the end for an organization that’s been active since the end of the Second World War.
“Without it, we’re going to have to close our doors. We need the roof to do all the things we do, to provide services to veterans and their families,” Rose said.