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Branch History

History of Manotick LegionBranch #314 received its Charter on 16 February 1942. Historical records indicate that "On Oct. 3, 1941, a group of World War One veterans from Manotick, North Gower, Richmond, Kars, Osgoode and Stittsville met in the Orange Hall, North Gower to consider the formation of a branch of the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Ex-Serviceman's League." The branch was then called the South Carleton Branch. For years, the branch had no formal home, but in October 1968, the president at that time approached the Orange Lodge in Manotick, with an offer to purchase Harmony Hall. Branch 314 officially opened its new home on May 24, 1970.

The original wood-frame structure had been erected in 1903, but a major rebuilding with cement block walls was carried out in the late 1930s, salvaging and re-using much of the old hall. In the 1970s, a modern kitchen and lounge facilities were added. Around the year 2002, the aging building again received some much needed renovations and additions, thanks in part to a major Trillium Grant. Branch 314 has a long history of providing services not only to veterans and members but also to the people of the community.

To everyone's horror on the afternoon of 12 June 2005, the building caught fire and rapidly succumbed to the flames. What had been at the centre of Manotick's social and community life was now no more than a pile of smoking ashes and debris. Gone was the home of Branch 314 and of the 2958 Army Cadet Corps, whose headquarters was in the basement.

During the next two years, major fund-raising efforts and generous donations from many individuals, organizations, companies and corporations resulted finally in an approved contract to erect a new building on the site of the former Hall. Those two years were fraught with many difficulties, but a re-invigorated Branch has now emerged.

After a fall season of perfect weather for construction, the building permit was finally issued in late October 2007. The weather immediately turned bad. Construction began but was seriously delayed as a result of one of the worst winters in the Ottawa area in living memory. The Branch eventually took possession of the new building on November 5, 2008, and managed to host a major reception in the building on November 11 after the Remembrance Ceremonies at the Manotick Cenotaph. The main hall in the new building is named "Harmony Hall" in memory of the old Hall.

The Official Opening of the new building was held on Sunday, 18 January 2009. The Guest Speaker was the Legion's Ontario Provincial President George O'Dair, and the ribbon was cut by the branch's longest serving member and former president, Eldon Brownlee.

Since that time the Branch has thrived, almost doubling its membership in the three years since reconstruction began. When the new building was opened for use, its lower level (basement) was unfinished and suitable only for storage of materials. Over the months, plans evolved for the partitioning and finishing of the lower level. A major consideration was to provide a new home for the branch-sponsored Army Cadet Corps, which had had its HQ in the basement of the old building. Another need was to provide space for the storage of poppy and remembrance materials. Construction work began in mid-2010, with the volunteer help of legion members and friends. In time, volunteers from the cadet corps added their talents and time. Significant donations of materials, labour and knowhow by local companies provided the means to complete the task. Major efforts during the fall and winter 2010-2011 resulted in approval for occupancy in February 2011.

The 2958 Army Cadet Corps has now re-established its HQ in the Legion's lower level, and has subsequently grown in numbers. The poppy and remembrance materials are also now safely stored on strong shelving donated by a member of the community.

The lower level was officially opened on 29 May 2011, with the main open space being named "Veterans Hall" - dedicated to our Veterans - past, present, and future.

In 2012, Branch 314 proudly celebrated its 70th Anniversary. After seven long years, the post-fire reconstruction was now complete - the last item being a paved parking area at the back of the building.

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