On October 26th, 1926 Colonel William Milne became the first president of the newly chartered “Branch 23 North Bay”. Predominantly a men’s veteran group, and working out of rented accommodations in downtown North Bay, the Branch membership set out to assist North Bay and area Veterans. In 1928 Branch members initiated a building fund to prepare for expansion.
Throughout the course of WWII Branch 23 members assisted by supplying comfort, recreation and general assistance to the young soldiers who trained at Chippewa Barracks. At the completion of the conflict overseas with new Veterans returning home, and membership once again on the rise in 1948, 175 First Avenue West became the first “Branch owned” building.
In 1951 the Branch assumed full sponsorship of the “North Bay Pipes and Drums”. Three years later in 1954, Branch members honoured their founding President by naming a newly constructed auditorium at the Branch, the “Milne Auditorium”.
Throughout the 1950’s, more emphasis was directed toward “Community Service”. Branch members broadened their view to include youth sports, Community programs, and assistance to the elderly. In 1972 Legion membership was expanded to include “sons and daughters” of veterans. These new “Associate members” were first initiated to Branch 23 in 1974. Later amendments would allow spouses and persons with “Cadet Service” to join.
A controversial dilemma of whether to move or renovate ended with a 1983 decision to remain central and build a new building, large enough for the growing membership, on the site at 150 First Avenue West. Construction began in 1986 and in September 1987 the new building became the home of Branch 23.
Today the Ceremonial Trio comprised of Branch 23 Pipes & Drums, drill team and colour party, continues to lead Community parades. Youth groups, cadet programs, and sports clubs continue to enjoy the benefits of Branch donations. Royal Canadian Legion Branch 23 remains a focal point in the Community, and annual Remembrance Services, school programs, and Poppy Campaigns are a reminder of the membership’s commitment to the “Veteran and Remembrance”.
Because of past and present member’s commitments, Branch 23 enjoys a reputation second to none – the present and future members and the Members of Branch 23 Pipes & Drums have a reason to be thankful and proud!