Tag Archives: Branch 25 – 90th Anniversary

Archive Searches for the Canadian Legion

Over the past few weeks we have been searching various archives to locate more of the history of the branches that formed the Royal Canadian Legion in Northern California.  For example…

A California Business Search for “Canadian Legion” yields articles of incorporation for 17 different organization in the state that have had those words in their name – two of which are still active.

A search of the images contained at Calisphere for “Canadian Legion” reveals 13 images in 9 different collections.

A search of the Online Archive of California for “Canadian Legion” yields eight results – and the first one we already spoke about yesterday in Bancroft Library Collection – Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League records : San Francisco, Calif., 1939-1943.

A more general search of the California Digital Archives for “Canadian Legion” generates almost 500 results, while a query of the subscription service Newspapers.com for “Canadian Legion” in California sources returns over 18,000 items.

What branch history might you have in your possession?  Or what branch history have you been able to find?

Bancroft Library Collection – Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League records : San Francisco, Calif., 1939-1943.

As we’ve been searching for items – both physical and digital – related to the history of US Branch 25, we can across this collection.


Collection Title: BANC MSS 2013/232

Collection Number: Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League records : San Francisco, Calif., 1939-1943.

Get Items: No online items No online items
Collection location Offline. Contact UC Berkeley::Bancroft Library

Collection Overview

Title: Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League records: San Francisco, Calif., 1939-1943

Creator/Contributor: Royal Canadian Legion, creator

Creator/Contributor: McMurray, J. W. C., correspondent.

Creator/Contributor: Romeril, Wilfred, correspondent.

Abstract: Contains mostly correspondence sent to the adjutant generals of the San Francisco chapter (Post No. 25) of the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League from various other dignitaries and civic, government, military, and service organizations dedicated to supporting military personnel. Correspondence includes invitations to events, recognition of services performed, awards, etc. Includes one folder of correspondence sent from other Canadian Legion posts in California including: Contra Costa (Post No. 138), Marin County (Post No. 30), Oakland (Post No. 15), Peninsula (Post No. 52), San Jose (Post No. 35), Petaluma (Post No. 57), Hayward (Post No. 114), and Stockton (Post No. 34). Also includes some correspondence from the Legion’s main office, Dominion Command in Ottawa Canada. Also includes receipts for subscriptions to British Empire Digest, a monthly publication of the Canadian Legion, B.E.S.L., articles, and a printed leaflet, prepared by Dr. Graham Stuart of Stanford University, summarizing the third report of the “Commission to study the organization of peace” and the potential for a United Nations organization.

Date: 1939 (issued)

Subject: n-us-ca — n-cn—
McMurray, J. W. C — Correspondence
Romeril, Wilfred — Correspondence
Royal Canadian Legion — Archives
Royal Canadian Legion — Correspondence
Canada. — Canadian Armed Forces.
World War, 1939-1945 — Veterans — Services for — Canada
World War, 1939-1945 — Veterans — Services for — California — San Francisco
Veterans — Services for — Canada
Veterans — Services for — California

Note: Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League records : San Francisco, Calif., 1939-1943, BANC MSS 2013/232, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Purchase; from Bolerium Books; 20131029.
In November 1925, the Canadian Legion, a non-profit veterans organization, was founded in Winnipeg, Manitoba, as The Canadian Legion of the British Empire Services League. In 1960, Queen Elizabeth II granted the Legion royal patronage and it became the Royal Canadian Legion.
In English.

Physical Description: print
1 box (0.2 linear feet)

Language: English

Identifier: BANC MSS 2013/232

Origin: California

Documenting Our History

Recently I inherited a few boxes and bags of Legion-related items from the Past President, Comrade Fred Rutledge.  For example, yesterday you were introduced to the flag of the Northern Zone of the Western Command of the Royal Canadian Legion.  Also included among those items was an old wooden Walford Marquise Invincible Tobacco box were these interesting printing press pieces.

Another item, among the treasurers, was this gavel.

The plaque reads:

Presented by
Ed Trayler P.S.C. 1987
Royal Canadian Legion

A picture of a similar item was submitted by Comrade Charlie Martin that had been handed down to him by his grandmother.

The plaque reads:

Imozene Martin
– President –
Ladies Auxiliary of San Francisco Post #25
Canadian Legion BESL – 1935

If you have any historical items related to the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Services League / Royal Canadian Legion from an of the former branches in the Bay Area, please submit them and we’ll feature them.

Northern Zone of the Western Command of the Royal Canadian Legion

Today, US Branch 25 is one of four branches in the Western US International Zone (and all four branches are based in California).  However, at one point in time US Branch 25 was a part of the Northern Zone of the Western Command of the Royal Canadian Legion. As you can see from the flag below, there were 13 branches that formed this zone.

Now in a speech Past President, Comrade Rutledge, gave a few years back, he indicated:

Posts were in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Texas, Utah and Washington states.

Sixteen in California alone: Culver City, Fresno, Gardena, Glendale, Palm Springs, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Van Nuys, and West Covina.

And here in the bay area Berkeley, Oakland, Petaluma, Redwood City, and San Francisco.

Now on the flag the following branch numbers are represented:

15 Oakland
19 Sacramento
25 San Francisco
31 Fresno (“Vimy”)
48 Alameda
52 Peninsula (“Maple Leaf”) / Redwood City
57 Petaluma
113 Berkeley
114 Hayward
126 Santa Cruz
138 Contra Costa
161 San Mateo
171 ??

Most of the branches were connected by Comrade Charlie Martin and his wife Holly Martin.  In his research, he noted a 1931 Sacramento Bee article that referenced 16 posts and 3500 members in California at the time.  Comrade Martin and his wife also identified Post 10 – Los Angeles from a 1931 article in the LA Times, as well as Post 29 in Ventura and Post 12 in Santa Barbara from a 1932 article in the Ventura Star.

Finally, Comrade Martin noted that an October 1951 article from the Oakland Tribune noted the “newly founded San Mateo Post 161.”  Also, the flag still bears the crest of the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Services League, which was in use until 1953.  This means that the flag was produced sometime between 1951 and 1953.

As an aside, a description of an archive collection of documents from 1939-43 at the Bancroft Library reads:

Canadian Legion posts in California including: Contra Costa (Post No. 138), Marin County (Post No. 30), Oakland (Post No. 15), Peninsula (Post No. 52), San Jose (Post No. 35), Petaluma (Post No. 57), Hayward (Post No. 114), and Stockton (Post No. 34).

So in addition to the 13 branches represented on the flag, there were at least an additional three branches in the Bay Area only a decade earlier (i.e., the ones in bold above) – for a total of 16 branches in the Northern California region.

By the way, if anyone knows where Post 171 was located, please reach out to us.

US Branch 25 – 90th Anniversary

As US Branch 25 embarks on its 90th anniversary year, it might be interesting to revisit the words of our late Comrade Howard Cavil, President of Branch 25 in 2001 about the branch’s 70th anniversary.


To view a PDF version of this letter, click here.

At present, the branch sits at approximately 40 members (or about 20 less than in 2001).  We still maintain our obligations…  The maintenance of Greenlawn Cemetery in Colma where we hold an annual US Memorial Day service and Liberty Cemetery in Petaluma where we host an annual Remembrance Day service.  We participate in the annual Petaluma Veterans Day parade, Service of Remembrance at Grace Cathedral, and Wreaths Across America events.  We sponsor a local naval sea cadet corps (without whom we would not be able to do the above mentioned).  Finally, we continue to “render assistance to members in need, to protect and honour the memorials to those who served, and to do what is necessary to present a positive image of Canadian heritage.”