Prince Albert Legion celebrates Canada’s 156th Birthday at Kinsmen Park

Members of the colour party stand at attention during the Canada Day opening ceremonies at Kinsmen Park on Saturday, July 1. -- Bailey Sutherland/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Royal Canadian Legion is doing its part to keep a longstanding community tradition alive on Canada Day in Kinsmen Park.
“Canada Day means a lot to the Legion,” said Rick Hodgson, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 2.

Hodgson explained that in 1971, July 1 was originally celebrated as Dominion Day. More than 40 years ago, a small group of Legion members got together and created a committee, who decided that the day needed a name change.

“They called it “Picnic in the Park”, then they got the words Canada Day in there and it’s been called that ever since,” said Hodgson. “It’s probably going back 40 or more years now.”

Hodgson said the July 1 celebration in Kinsmen Park is a way for the Legion to carry on the decades-old tradition.

“Years ago, it was a picnic in the park for people that stayed home. People go on holidays, but there’s lots of families that are in the city that don’t get out,” he explained. “The idea was selling everything for a good reasonable price, [and] for the families to have a good day out with some good entertainment.”

Two Legion volunteers man the draw booth during Canada Day celebrations in Kinsmen Park. — Bailey Sutherland/Daily Herald

The Legion’s tradition lives on in the Prince Albert community, as hundreds gathered near the Kinette Amphitheatre on Saturday morning to observe the opening ceremonies featuring the Colour Guard, Prince Albert RCMP and Prince Albert Police Service.

Wayne Sarginson, Canada Day Chair for the Legion, said while the turnout wasn’t quite as he had hoped on such a nice day, it was still a great crowd.

After a family-friendly afternoon filled with entertainment on the grandstand, a bingo run by the Candle Lake Legion, booths from different local organizations, food trucks and the Legion’s own concession stand, the July 1 celebration ended with a Canada Day cake cutting and a piece for everyone.

“It’s a birthday party, so you’ve got to have cake, right?” Sarginson said.