Morinville Legion Comrade Walter Corbett and Danny Clarke present Comrade Leo Brochu with his 70 years of service pin at Aspen May 5. Below: Brochu in his air force uniform at the age of 21. – Lucie Roy Photos
by Lucie Roy
Morinville News Correspondent
The Royal Canadian Legion, as it is known today, came into being in Winnipeg in November 1925. At that time, it was named the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League (BESL) as shown on the hat badge worn by Leo Brochu. Alberta had joined the organization in June 1926. The BESL was dropped from the name in 1961.
As the Royal Canadian Legion (RCL) Alberta North West Territories Command celebrates its 90 anniversary, the Morinville Legion celebrated 70 years as of February this year. Leo Brochu is the only surviving member of the original charters members of the Morinville Branch.
Legion Comrades Walter Corbett and Danny Clarke presented Leo Brochu with his 70 years of service pin at Aspen May 5.
At the age of 97 Brochu has been a Legion member for 70 of those years. Leo was born and raised in Morinville, joined the military and returned home, helped to form the Legion and remains a loyal member to this day. In 2001 Leo received a letter from Adrienne Clarkson, Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces for his loyal service and in 2005 Leo was presented a Certificate of Merit for sixty years of loyal and dedicated service to the RCL. Leo was also presented with his Life Membership in the last two years.
In 1908, Brochu’s father Amedee attended a wedding in Morinville and stayed. With $500 in 1910, he built a carriage shop of his own. The shop was downstairs and the carriages were brought upstairs by the ramp where they were painted. Leo was born September 1918 in Morinville to eighth generation Amedee Brochu of Quebec and Adeline Fortier to a family of two brothers and eight sisters. His parents were married January 1913 at the St. Jean Baptiste Church in Morinville with Father Gauthier blessing their marriage.
Amedee was the Mayor of Morinville from 1921 to 1924. In 1922, Amedee operated the Brochu House and Sign Painting and Woodworking and in 1922 took the Massey Harris Farm Implement Dealership until his retirement in 1958.
Leo said they had living quarters on the top floor and he lived there until he moved into Heritage Lodge in June 2001. The building is still standing today and is located near the corner of 104(Boisvert) Street and 101 (Laval) Avenue not far from the Legion.
Leo joined the military and served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the war from 1941-1945 as a chef. He learned this trade at the University of Guelph in Ontario. Leo said he started a Bakery Shop on Main Street in Morinville in 1949 and continued in this business until he retired in 1978.
The early years of the Legion in Morinville started with the Founding Association. Named the Post War Association it was founded at a meeting held at Parish Hall 29 April 1945.
An interim organizational meeting of War Veterans was held at the Massey Harris commercial establishment on 8 Dec.1945 and a committee was elected from those present, which included Mark Saffin, Alex Reid, Percy Logan, P. Conway and Hubert St. Arnault.
At a meeting held in the Parish Hall in April 1946 the total funds of the Post War Association was turned over to the newly formed Morinville Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion British Empire Service League. This ended the era of the Post War Association. The Morinville Branch Organization meeting was held Jan 1946 with Conway elected President and the following chosen as Charter members: Tom MacGuigan, John Hrushka, Leo Brochu, Laurence Brochu, Gilbert Macdonald, Lawrence and Louis Macdonald, T. Conway, Wilfred Beaulieu, Fred Belliveau, Mickey Conway, Hubert St. Arnaud, Mark Saffin and Charles Pelletier.