We met with Ed Laird from Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 2 in Prince Albert, and he gave us a bit of history on Canada Day.
Canada Day was started in Prince Albert in 1966 by the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 2. In 1967 the legion moved into a new building on 8th Street, Ed Laird was Sergeant-At-Arms. Jim Turner had his store on Central Avenue and went to the legion, nothing was happening on Dominion Day and he approached Ed saying there should be a day for the kids, families and veterans celebrating Canada and this great nation we live in.
“We approached the legion executive and they gave us $2,000 to put on entertainment,” says Laird. They decided to host the event at Kinsmen Park and feature some fun events such as kids races, softball games, ball games, horseshoe tosses, food booths, ladies aux. had bingo and much more activities.
“We gave free ice cream to the kids for the first couple of years, but the mothers made us stop,” says Laird.
After two years it had become so popular, surrounding legions were starting to come to the event as well.
After three years of Canada Day being held, that fall, the government from Ottawa called the branch “they were really enthused.”
They sent a representative down to meet with the legion’s executive board to see what this day was all about and why it was so popular.
That fall, after the meeting, it was announced that the Federal Government would change the name from Dominion Day to Canada Day, and anyone putting on an event would get a $1k grant each year.
“It’s always been such a successful thing. It’s got bigger and bigger.” Says Laird.
Everything was free and put on by volunteers, they didn’t pay anyone, it was a day everyone could enjoy.
Grants are still sent each year, although now it is split with the multicultural council.
Eventually, in the park, the city built a stage “that made it really nice,” says Laird.
Canada day has always been at Kinsmen and has always been a full day.
“The big thing was it was always free,” says Laird.
Jim Turner was one of the main organizers. He got it going for the young people. They had firecrackers, popcorn and soft drinks.
The Legion will continue to host Canada Day each year, running their booths and everything with volunteers so people can enjoy the day.
Help support Canada’s Veterans and communities this summer and forwards.
As the weather gets nicer, there are many new opportunities for us to get involved, including helping out at the Legion Nationals or becoming a volunteer in your community.
We also offer free, confidential services to all Veterans to help them find the help and support they need.