History of ANAVETS in Canada

Ron Robinson is Unit 26's Honourary President and unofficial historian.Mr. Robinson (shown on the left)  is Unit 26’s Honourary President and unofficial historian. He gives us a great glimpse at many of our “Firsts”. Mr. Robinson’s amazing collection of stories about Unit 26 have appeared in our newsletter since the 60’s, check back in this “History” section for re-prints of past stories.

South Vancouver Unit 26 came into being in the year 1919. The original charter was granted on July 16, 1919 as members of the Army, Navy Veterans Association. An act of Parliament passed in 1946 changed the organizations title to the “Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada”.

The first building used by Unit 26 members was the Arnason Block. This building is still standing today and is located at Fraser Street and 46th Avenue. In 1924 the unit moved it’s club rooms to Fraser and 43rd Avenue. At exactly 12:20 a.m. Sunday, December 11th, 1960 a gas explosion engulfed the club rooms into flames. The club rooms were completely destroyed.

The laying of the corner stone for our present club rooms at Fraser and 43rd Avenue was held in 1961 and our new club was opened in 1962, less than a year after the disastrous fire. On Sunday, September 19th, 1993 we celebrated another “opening”, it was the grand opening of our newly decorated club rooms and new bar.

There have been many, many memorable moments throughout the history of Unit 26 and space doesn’t allow me to mention too many. . . so here’s just a few:

1942 – Our Ladies Auxiliary was formed on May 12th. Esther Simmons was their first President. Those wonderful girls have always been ready and willing to help our Unit whenever help is needed.

1964 – This was the year that the English Cartoonist, Reg Smythe, gave Unit 26 permission to have Andy Capp as our Honourary Member.

1966 – Our own Ben Miller was appointed by BilL Yule to head a committee to form a society to build ANAVETS Housing Units. To this day Ben is still the backbone of that society.

1969 – On July 20th of that year our Unit sent a telegram to Astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins while they were on the Moon.

1984 – Unit 26 Associate Members were given permission to elect their own Executive and to hold General Meetings. Our Associates decorate the clubrooms for most holidays and special events as well as running mini-meat draws on holidays and also helping our Unit on some outdoor events.

1989 – After two years of negotiations with the Soviet Union, Galina Izuvita, Deputy Mayor of Odessa, USSR, visited our clubrooms on March 1st and signed a document making Unit 26 the first Canadian veterans club to have a sister Unit in the Soviet Union.

I’m sure most Units have their “Characters” and Unit 26 is no exception. One such character was Comrade Joe Regele. Joe was famous for lifting beer tables full of beer with his teeth. Another such character was Comrade Sam Clifton. Once he got himself barred from the club he went and got an axe and promptly chopped through the club door to get back in. And we’ll never forget Comrade Louie Vencenzi who gained fame by riding a horse into the club rooms to get a beer. And in more recent years we were often entertained on our dance floor by Comrade “Bo-Jangles” Robinson. Unfortunately Bruce had two left feet. Then there was Comrade Ozzie Lemke, one of our more colourful Presidents. It was during his seven terms as our President that our club rooms were often called “The Land of Oz”.

All have now gone to that big club in the sky but our memories of them will always be with us.

Submitted by Com. Ron Robinson
Unit 26 A.N.A.F

WEB UPDATE  October 12, 2013
Since Ronnie created this history for our Unit #26, much has happened. Our club lounge was sold to a developer and we moved out of the building February 28, 2013. We moved 6 blocks south to visit with the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch #16 at 49th and Fraser St. Our stay with the RCL Br. #16 was short-lived. We were working toward a Joint Venture with Br. #16 to share the location equally with them. Our negotiations with our two Provincial Commands seemed to be on track however on September 23 at 5:00pm the Legion BC & Yukon Command placed the branch under their Command Trusteeship and suspended their Charter.

WEB UPDATE  May 4th, 2014

On April 9, 2014 we purchased the Legion Br. #16 at 49th Ave. & Fraser St. We are renovating the club lounge with a new painting scheme, updating the beer cooler, library, bar system, glass washer and installing a stack washer/ dryer.  Review the homepage for more details.