DEBRA LYNN PHOTO Legion executive from left to right: Executive member, Frank Byce; Vice-President, Patsy Bailey; Executive member, Irene Cinthorne; Secretary-Treasurer, Catherine Beatty; President, Warren Beatty. Front: Chairperson, Audrey Clark-Surtees. Absent: Executive Members, Neil Steffler and Joe Tiberghien; Past President, Wayne Beckett.

The Port Alice Legion adapts to economic challenges

Legion president, Warren Beatty, intends “to keep the legion active”

Since the Pulp Mill went bankrupt in 2004, the Legion #180 has been struggling to keep afloat. After it was re-opened in 2006, a production curtailment followed in 2015.

Many people left town, bringing the population down from 805 to 664. The Legion has had to cut back their hours of operation to 2-7 p.m. daily, serving a little over a dozen “regulars” on a normal day.

According to long time member and now Executive member, Frank Byce, back in the 80s — when the pulp mill was in full production mode — “the place was just booming.” The Legion held dances, concerts, catering events and special dinners put on by the Ladies Auxiliary. “Port Alice was a lot different then.”

The population was 2,200. There were two restaurants, a 14-bed hospital, 14 school teachers, 270 school children and “a lot more young people.”

He recalls that, back then, if you didn’t get into the Legion before 7 p.m. on the weekend, you didn’t get in.

In spite of recent challenges, Legion President Warren Beatty intends “to keep the legion active … to have more functions and activities that increase the involvement of the community.”

The legion would have been forced to close if not for the idea of legion member Bev Steffler, which led to the launching of the Calm Waters Café in 2016.

Open from 8:00 to 11:30 a.m., Wednesday to Saturday, the café serves hot breakfasts ranging from $3 to $6 per item. Since an influx of retirees this past summer brought the population up to about 750, patronage has increased by about 20 per cent, and it doubles during tourist season. The guestbook has been signed by people from all over the world, including Slovakia, New Zealand, Australia, Russia, Germany, France, Denmark, Scotland, Dublin, Fort Lauderdale and Okotoks

In addition to the legion’s annual Remembrance Day, Cops for Cancer, Mother’s Day Spring Tea and the Oscar Hickes Turkey Dinner events, their fortunes have been augmented by some special functions that have been a rousing success, including Talent Night, a Courtney Frigstad and Elijah Parrish Night, and a Neil Diamond Tribute Night.

A Meet and Greet Potluck introduced newcomers to established residents in the community. Everyone wore a name tag with their name on it and the year they came to Port Alice. The sole exception was Arlin Lind, whose name tag said “born here.”

The Branch Executive continues to plan more dinners and events. Anyone can rent the legion for $50 a night for a private function or arrange to have it catered for them. If performers would like to put on a show, they can be paid for their services by charging at the door. Judging by the attendance at recent functions, with adequate advertising, they could easily get a full house. An out-of-the-way village with a new batch of retirees from “elsewhere,” there is a strong appetite for “entertainment” among the residents. Hours of operation can be extended to accommodate these functions.

Greater accessibility to the legion has been enabled by a change in policy a few years ago. Membership is no longer restricted to those having had a military member in the family. The Port Alice Legion has approximately 170 members, with new applications coming in all the time. With three-quarters of the membership being 55 and older, younger members are always welcome.

The Legion is always seeking more volunteers to keep operating costs down and share the workload of managing events. They could use more hands to help in the kitchen, and with maintenance work on the building and property.

– Debra Lynn article

Just Posted

Northbound lanes re-open along Malahat after small rockslide near Goldstream

Drivers asked to use caution, clean-up crews have finished on-site

VIDEO: North Island man trapped under ATV for days shows promise at Victoria hospital

Out of induced coma, 41-year-old is smiling, squeezing hands and enjoying sunshine

Crime on the rise? Here’s Port Hardy RCMP’s third quarter report for 2019

The Port Hardy RCMP has so far opened 3,349 files in 2019, with only the fourth quarter left.

Tri-Port honours the fallen on Remembrance Day

Check out the North Island Gazette’s Remembrance Day photo gallery from Port… Continue reading

Alumni vs. Midgets hamper game set for Nov. 23 in Port McNeill

“We really want to make this a special day on the North Island”

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

BC SPCA seeks help after senior cat attacked by dog twice

Nine-year-old tabby named Meow Meow will need her front leg amputated

B.C. woman ordered to return dog to ex-boyfriend for $2,000

After the two broke up, documents state, they agree to share custody of the dog, named Harlen

Abbotsford police chief mulls more enforcement of homeless lawbreakers

‘When all else has failed we have to hold people accountable,’ Police Chief Mike Serr tells council

Striking Vancouver hotel workers, employer reach ‘tentative’ agreement

Employees of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia have been out at picket lines since talks broke off on Sept. 21

RCMP cut free activists chained to Kelowna bank, placed under arrest

The group is protesting Interior Savings Credit Union’s support of Kelowna Ribfest

Cold, stormy winter forecast across much of Canada, The Weather Network predicts

In British Columbia temperatures will be slightly above normal and precipitation will be just below normal

Cell phone tickets worse tax grab than speed limits, SenseBC says

Distracted driving statistics questioned as B.C. tickets pile up

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Most Read