Prince Rupert Royal Canadian Legion Branch 27 has a hidden gem in plain view on the main street of the city that is open to the public and does just that in carrying on the memories.
The Legion museum is a trove of military treasure tucked away for just less than 10 years behind a non-descript doorfront on Third Ave. West.
Derry Bott the Legions chaplain and a board executive has helped to dig out and display the memorabilia in the front space of the Legions premises.
“The purpose of the legions is to promote remembrance and to look after veterans,” Bott said. “I have members in my family that that did fight in wars and I guess I just felt that they deserve more recognition.”
Bott, with the help of the other legion members and donations from the public, has created a visual time capsule in binders, glass cabinets, and frames of the times that November 11 is a formal remembrance of. He has even made some the cabinets with his own hands.
“We had the space,” he said. “So we just started putting things out and one thing led to another. We started building showcases and so forth and people started bringing more stuff.”
Bott said the museum is a better and more reflective place for some items rather than sitting in someone’s closet. Also,the displays don’t sit and stagnate.
“So I’m constantly trying to change things around a little bit because we’ve got too many items for the space to show it all at once.”
The museum is packed with medals, photos, reading material, uniforms, military equipment, historic arsenal, artwork, and even has military documentaries broadcasting on television for viewers to watch.
With Bott’s knowledge of the history behind some of the items, the public can hear anecdotes about warships that are now reefs, the only soldier to die in Prince Rupert during the Second World War and the Prince Rupert woman who became a poster model for the military. A trip to the museum is eye-candy for the military enthusiast and a lesson in history for those who want spend a few hours becoming lost in another time. Some reference material is even able to be loaned out.
“I think it helps promote the remembrance of Veterans. Anyone who comes in really likes it. Many people who come in didn’t realize it is here,” he said.
School classes usually come in around Remembrance Day Bott said, but with the global pandemic changing everything, it is uncertain this for this year.
“I don’t know whether it gives them a good understanding, but it certainly gives them a little bit more insight,” Bott said of the children who visit. “They actually get to see some of the things like the uniforms, they get to see the rifles that were fired. They see real (items that were used) instead of just a picture.”
Bott invites the public to stop by and check out the museum and said on Saturdays, the legion continues to assist and support the public in Prince Rupert with the preparation of bagged lunches for the vulnerable.
“It’s important to have the museum here so people can see it and reflect,” Bott said. “The war was not a happy time.”
The Royal Canadian Legion Museum is open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.