The first Legion Ladies Auxiliary in Canada has celebrated its 90th anniversary.
The Summerland Ladies Auxiliary received its charter on March 3, 1927.
At the time, 15 members joined the auxiliary, with the purpose of serving the Summerland branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
“Our auxiliary has alway been very active, supporting the branch whenever called on,” said Margaret Lynum, president of the auxiliary.
Today, there are 35 active members in the auxiliary, but in previous years, it boasted many more members. In 1993, there were 95 members of the auxiliary, Lynum said.
Much of the auxiliary’s work consists in catering for functions and serving refreshments at funerals for veterans and others.
The members also attend special services such as Remembrance Day and VE Day commemorations.
The auxiliary members also place metal crosses on each veteran’s grave at the three Summerland cemeteries.
The first cross was placed in 1959 and today, there are around 400 crosses at the cemeteries.
Each year, auxiliary members place daffodils at the crosses for Easter and poppies before Remembrance Day.
The members also supply donations to community organizations such as the Giant’s Head School Breakfast Club, the Summerland Food Bank, Hospice House, Women in Need, the Special Olympics, the George Derby Veterans’ Facility, Hope Air, the Penticton Regional Hospital and others.
Two bursaries, worth $1,000 each, are presented to graduating high school students each year in June.
The auxiliary in Summerland remains active and has outlasted many other auxiliaries in the region and in the province.
In the South Okanagan and Similkameen, the Princeton auxiliary closed recently, leaving only the Summerland, Penticton, Okanagan Falls and Westbank auxiliaries.
“The Ladies’ Auxiliary has been very active since 1927,” Lynum said. “The ladies who belong to the auxiliary are all very dedicated.”
This dedication shows as some of the members have spent many years in service.
Eileen Eden, the longest-serving member of the auxiliary, has been part of the organization for 57 years. Several other members have 56 years of service.
New members are also continuing to join, and over the past year, five new members were added.
Still, Lynum would like to see more people joining the auxiliary.
“We’re not getting as many as we need,” she said.