Saint John legion closing after 86 years
Legion president says branches should merge to boost numbers
One of Canada’s oldest branches of the Royal Canadian Legion is closing and selling its Saint John building because of financial pressures.
Carleton Branch 2 was formed in 1926, but a legion official says they can no longer afford to stay in the Ludlow Street building after a decade of steady decline in membership and sales.
Paul Durant, the branch president, said the building is now up for sale and they plan to be out by September.
"If we held on until after the first of the year, we'd be lost because you got your insurances which kill the branches, you've got taxes which kill the branches," he said.
The branch is also petitioning the city to move a memorial stone back to its original home in Tilley Square.
The financial crunch being felt in Saint John is a situation legions across the country are dealing with.
Pat Parker, the president of Branch 93 in Oromocto, said that legion was once the town’s hub.
But it is also struggling to recruit new members despite being located next to CFB Gagetown.
"Friday nights, Saturday nights and Sundays were full, there were lineups outside. That was back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. But today it's a lot different," he said.
"There's days that nobody goes to the legion, and there's weekends that nobody goes to the legion."
The decline in membership is prompting legions to examine ways to keep other branches from closing.
Durant said he's hoping to amalgamate all branches in Saint John to help bring numbers up.
"In order to survive, that is what is going to have to happen because you can't do it by yourself," Durant said.
"There's no way. We've tried. We have tried. We've had 1,000 members at one time. We're now down to about 240 [to] 260 members."
The Royal Canadian Legion New Brunswick Command website says there are six branches in Saint John. But three of those branches have no building.