By David Adamson, Past President

On August 27, Branch 258 closed its doors at 45 Lawson Road. On September 16, the Branch opened its lovely new building at 305 Morrish Road to members. Formerly owned by the Salvation Army, the structure has been refurbished and is now a bright, updated space for Branch members.

History of Branch 258

The Highland Creek Branch 258 was originally known as the Colonel T. Herbert Lennox Branch 258 and received its Charter on May 18, 1934, from the British Empire Service League that was later changed to the Royal Canadian Legion. The first President of Branch 258 was Comrade George Lomas, a Veteran and well-known businessman in Highland Creek. The 10-acre property at 45 Lawson was acquired during the 1940s and a two-story building was constructed on the north parking lot. After a fire in October 1976 destroyed the building, a new branch was  built in the southern part of the property. It opened in May 1981.

The Branch donated 2 ½ acres of its land for a retirement facility for Veterans and was named the Metro Toronto Legion Village. The first resident entered the Legion Village on August 14, 1976. When the Village later became a long-term facility, it was renamed the Tony Stacey Centre for Veterans Care in honour of Tony who had been instrumental in the development of the Legion Village.

The Legion has been a significant focal point within the community over the years, supporting Veterans through its annual Poppy Campaign, sponsoring Army cadets, hockey and baseball teams, giving donations to local churches, and holding Canada Day celebrations and Remembrance Day services. Many weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties, and celebrations of life have been held there.

Decision to Move

The Branch had been experiencing a financial situation due in part to reduced membership, ongoing maintenance expenses, and heat and hydro costs. A number of options were reviewed by the Property Committee and presented to the general membership on April 8, 2019. The decision was approved to sell the property on Lawson and purchase a smaller property in close proximity. The Lawson Road property was sold in May 2019 to Viva Retirement Communities, and following review of several locations, the property at 305 Morrish Road was purchased on February 26, 2020.

Last Day at Lawson Rd. Building

More than 100 people were present leading up to the closure in August of the Lawson Road location. The Ladies Auxiliary prepared and served food at no charge to the attendees. A cake celebrating the occasion was cut by senior Branch 258 Past President Peter Prior and senior Ladies Auxiliary Past President Pat Fisher. It was a grand occasion for members and friends to reminisce about the good old days.

President Richard Viles acknowledged Past Branch 258 Presidents and Past Ladies Auxiliary Presidents, executive members working towards the move to the new location, and thanked those for being present. A closing ceremony took place whereby the Colours and the picture of the Queen along with other Legion Branch documents were removed from the wall.

Move to 305 Morrish

The move to 305 Morrish Road has been a challenging and to some degree rewarding experience. Challenges: finding an appropriate location in the area; interviewing prospective developers and deciding on the renovations; and unexpected delays due to the pandemic. Rewards: finding a property in close proximity; and working alongside dedicated and hard-working Legion members.

The building on Lawson Road holds many endearing memories. Being a long-term member and a Past President of Branch 258, I can appreciate the sentiments. But I looked forward to the move. The comfort, well-being, safety, ample parking along with accessibility is what we have striven for at our new location.