A Brief History of the Royal Canadian Legion
The Legion was founded in November, 1925 in Winnipeg, Manitoba as the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Services League (BESL) and was incorporated by special Act of Parliament, Charter issued in July 1926.
The principal objectives of the Legion were to provide a strong voice for World War I veterans and advise the government on veterans’ issues. These goals were maintained in the years leading up to 1939.
During World War II, the Legion increased efforts to help veterans and returned service members, provided education support and in-theatre comfort for serving personnel at home and abroad.
On October 14, 1949, The Great War Veterans’ Association of Newfoundland amalgamated with the Royal Canadian Legion.
During the Korean War, the Legion again offered support and comfort to troops while continuing efforts at home to improve assistance for veterans.
Following the Korean War, the Legion became increasingly involved in community service. The athletics program for youth, established in the early 1950s, has been one of the Legion’s most successful programs. It has produced many top Canadian international track and field contenders and other prominent athletes.
The Legion also launched many other community programs, including the National Unity and Seniors Programs and medical fellowships to promote geriatric and gerontology specialties across the country.
In 1960, the Queen gave consent to attach the word “Royal” to the Legion’s name.
The Legion has never faltered in its efforts to improve the lot of veterans and of ex-service members. Indeed, many of the benefits they enjoy today are largely due to the persistence of dedicated Legion members at all levels of the organization. These include the Veterans Independence Program, spousal benefits, appropriate recognition for Dieppe and Hong Kong Veterans, creation of the Pension Review Board and many others.