National Bank says 'misunderstanding' led branch to refuse $48 Remembrance Day wreath

Legion member John Hill says he was asked by the bank to come pick up the memorial wreath a day after he dropped it off.

Money from poppy fund kept at same bank, says Royal Canadian Legion in Richmond, Que.

Robert Dalton, left, and John Hill of the Richmond branch of the Royal Canadian Legion were insulted by what they say was the National Bank's refusal to purchase and display a memorial wreath. (Antoni Nerestant/CBC)

The Royal Canadian Legion in Richmond, Que., says it will be taking its business elsewhere after the local branch of the National Bank snubbed the group's attempt to sell it a $48 memorial wreath.

Each year, Richmond Legion branch number 15 sells memorial wreaths and poppies to local businesses and residents leading up to Remembrance Day.

John Hill, chairman of the Richmond legion's poppy campaign, dropped off a memorial wreath at the town's National Bank branch on Tuesday.

Money raised during the legion's poppy campaign goes into a trust account at the bank, and Hill said the branch had purchased and displayed a memorial wreath over the last several years.

But Hill said the branch called him back the next day and asked him to take the wreath back.

Several businesses in Richmond have a memorial wreath on display ahead of Remembrance Day. (Antoni Nerestant/CBC)

"Wednesday we got a call, saying that the regional director in Sherbrooke said they weren't going to buy the wreath, and to come and get it," Hill said.

"So I went and picked it up."

The price for one memorial wreath is $48, Hill said.

"I went in and I was going to offer to buy one for them," said legion member Shirley Smith.

Smith had three siblings in the Second World War, one of whom was killed. 

Legion member Shirley Smith lost three siblings during the Second World War. (Antoni Nerestant/CBC)

Hill says the money he collects going door-to-door in Richmond selling wreaths and poppies is secondary to raising awareness about the Canadians who served in past wars, especially those who come from the small town.

"Richmond has quite a list of veterans who lost their lives in World War I and World War II, " he said.

"We're known as a small military town."

Hill said the bank's refusal of the wreath isn't sitting well with legion members.

"They feel they've been betrayed by a company that they've been loyal to," he said.

'It's a misunderstanding'

National Bank spokesperson Jean-Francois Cadieux told CBC News it does not want to end its tradition of buying and displaying the memorial wreath.

"We will definitely reach out to them and explain to them that it was a misunderstanding," Cadieux said.

The bank attributes the mix-up to the fact that the local branch manager never got a chance to meet with Hill.

On Remembrance Day, the legion members will pick up each memorial wreath sold and bring them to the town's war memorial. (Antoni Nerestant/CBC)

Hill, however, says more than one branch employee told him that the order to remove the memorial wreath came from senior officials at the bank.

"I'm not going back there," Hill insists, adding the legion plans to close its account at the bank and take its business elsewhere.