Historical Profile Brief of the R. C. Legion & Cooksville’s Br. #582
May 1, 2016 Content prepared by Mr. Dyke G. Garratt
Canada faced numerous challenges of a different type when over 625,000 veterans were to return home from their service in the First World War. As one of several needs, the country had no prior experience with war pensions and their relevant administration. And there was no unified effort or representation…as the veteran’s interests were being represented by numerous different groups and organizations. Seemingly, a different veterans group began almost every time a new issue arose.
The Great War Veterans Association (GWVA) had become the largest and the most influential of the many veterans groups.
It was formed in 1917 and within 8 years, it was comprised of more than 700 branches. In 1921 they had started lobbying for the unification of all the various groups. They were convinced that this would be the best way to represent the many veterans and their dependents.
During 1921, The British Empire Service League (BESL) was formed and in 1923 the already existing GWVA acted as the Canadian voice of the newer BESL and to also urge further unification of the different veteran’s organizations.
Resulting from a special November 25, 1925 conference in Winnipeg, "The Canadian Legion of the BESL" started and was often referred to as "The Canadian Legion". (The word "Royal" was added to the name in 1960, formally indicating the Queen’s recognition).
There are numerous RCL branches throughout Canada and even a few in the U.S.A. and Europe. Our Branch #582 is one of 11 Branches within Zone B-7, which is part of District B in the Province of Ontario. Beyond the Ontario Provincial Command based in Aurora, Ontario, there is also a Dominion Command HQ located in Ottawa.
An official RCL Charter for Branch #582 was initially granted in May 1960, with 72 charter member startup.
A Woman’s Auxiliary was subsequently installed in May 1962 with its 9 charter members, to support various activities and needs of the Branch.
Shortly after his passing, the late Colonel Thomas Laird Kennedy (1878-1959) was posthumously appointed as honourary patron of the Branch, as was often the custom of the Legion to honour veterans and their courageous endeavours.
Locally born and raised, T.L. Kennedy was a First World War veteran, and became a well-established, land owner and a leading political figure serving in several key positions of Ontario provincial government. As a Major during WW-I, Thomas Kennedy commanded a contingent of troops that were primarily raised from the then-rural communities of Cooksville & Dixie, located in the south end of Peel County. The men were drawn from its local squadron of the militia unit known as the Governor General’s Bodyguard.
To this day, our branch proudly bears the Colonel Tom Kennedy name (as do some local schools and a major street)
For geographical identification, Branch #582 was also named “COOKSVILLE”, after the local village located within the region then-known as Toronto Township.
This is now the modern day City of Mississauga, (part of the Region of Peel) and Canada’s sixth largest and still growing city.
The original location of Branch #582 was on Dundas Street East, near the present day intersection of Tomken Road. By 1967 the membership and needs had outgrown the original building and were relocated into new, larger facilities, which we now occupy at 456 Hensall Circle (just West of Cawthra Road and off Dundas Street.) We have now been established for well over 50 years and function as one of three RCL branches currently still operating in Mississauga.
Our mandate continues to focus on the needs of veterans and their dependents but where possible, we also regularly attend to the well-being of our community.
Additionally, Branch #582 is primarily volunteer-operated, very active socially and welcomes co-ed membership inquiries at Telephone 905-277-2902.
NOTE: Foregoing content was contributed in part, and gratefully received, from long-time branch member Mr. Matt Brown.