Royal Canadian Legion branch 61, in Delia has closed its doors after 81 years.
According to former Legion president Darryl Morlock, "due to low resident membership, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 61 will surrender its charter at the end of November 2009."
The Legion has enjoyed a long history in the community.
A charter was issued and granted to the Delia branch on March 21, 1928. During the summer of 1928 the branch decided that due to its financial state it would be forced to sell its club rooms.
The thirties were to affect the branch as they did all people of the district. After the hotel was sold meetings were held in various places, Spring Water School, Delia Town Hall, the agricultural building and Coates Hall. A small building next door to Dr. Netherton’s on main street was at one time used as a club room for the rent of $8 a year.
The first Armistice Day service was held on the Sunday previous to November 11 in the year 1930. The service has become a tradition of the branch and was held each year. In conjunction with Remembrance Day, as it is now called, Poppy Day is held on the previous Saturday.
The subject of the erection of a memorial was discussed at a general meeting in April, 1935, the location to be on the north side of the village. Before the summer had passed the project was completed. The cairn was built by the late John Nelson assisted by W. Demott. A plaque with the names of the men of the Delia District who paid the supreme sacrifice in World War 1 was placed on the eastern face of the cairn.
In 1950, an agreement for sale was arranged for the old Co-op store for the sum of $2,500. The Legion finally had a home. For the purchase of the building many members made donations. A rather special donation was received from the ex victory loan group of salesmen, who had set aside their commissions on the sale of bonds and donated the amount to the building fund.
In the summer of 1948 the branch placed another plaque on the cenotaph. This is affixed on the south face of the cairn, and upon it is inscribed the names of the men who didn’t return from World War 2.
In November 1961, her majesty Queen Elizabeth ll by proclamation granted the Legion a change of name. They became the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch no 61, Delia.
Over the years the branch became less and less active. Ordinary members were becoming fewer and far between as age gradually thinning the ranks.
The Legion did not exist to perpetuate the memory of war, but it did exist to perpetuate the memory of those who served, and who paid the supreme sacrifice. Also, its obligation is to those who were wounded and thus deprived of living a normal life, and to dependants of these men and women.
Like many other small town Legions, Delia faced the problem of not enough local members. They had only 23 members with only 7 members being local to Delia.
Due to low resident membership, Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 61, Delia will surrender their charter at the end of November, 2009.
Legion and Ladies Auxiliary plaques, flags and various other items will be donated to the Delia Museum.
It is hoped that when a Legion fulfills its last obligation to the veteran and his dependants, that it, too, like the old soldier, “shall not die but simply fade away”.