The Ryley Branch was established in 1946 by a large group of WWI and WWII veterans from Ryley and area. As membership rules changed over the years, women who had served in the forces, spouses, children, and grandchildren of veterans were recruited as members. Today, any Canadian citizen at least 18 years of age may become a Legion member.
The Ryley Legion has seen a decline in membership over the last twenty years of so. Currently, there are about 40 members, with roughly 12 local members taking an active part in meetings and other events.
The branch has reduced the number of functions held annually, although Remembrance Day, Decoration Day and Summer Bust Out continue to be significant occasions with public participation. Members also participate in the Ryley School Remembrance service each year.
Community support is one of the priorities of the branch. The Halloween free hot-dog supper and treats for local children has been well attended every year. This event will be taking place again this year.
Each year, the branch presents one (and occasionally more than one) $500.00 bursary to a local student attending a post-secondary institution. A transportation grant is given to the Nootka Cadet Core every year. The branch was also able to donate $500.00 to the Red Cross Fort McMurray fund this year.
As members age, volunteer participation in local events has declined. To counter this, the branch offers the use of the hall to various local organizations free of charge for meetings and other functions. Over the course of a year, the savings to volunteer organizations totals around one thousand to fifteen hundred dollars.
The branch relies heavily on regular hall rentals as well as casino moneys to remain operational. Upgrades to the roof and siding, and replacement of the furnaces were all made possible through generous grants by Conoco- Phillips, the AB Government, and the Clean Harbors Community Relations Fund. As well, bathrooms have been refitted with higher toilets, and several chairs with arms have been purchased.
Legions unfortunately are often viewed as watering holes for sad old veterans reliving the horrors of the wars. Here, and in most Legions around Canada, this is nothing but an urban legend.
With new, and hopefully younger, members, the Ryley Branch could once again be a meeting place for games nights, kids’ parties, and almost any kind of function that could be dreamed up.
Come out to a meeting, or join us at the Remembrance Day service, ask some questions, pick up a membership application, and become an active member of a great organization.
Meetings are held at 7:30 on the first Tuesday of each month from September through June.
For more information or to rent the Legion Hall, please contact Annette Short at 780-663-3565 or any other local member.