Cavaliers Royal Canadian Legion motorcycle group visits Manitoulin Island

Members of the Little Current Royal Canadian Legion Branch 177 join the Korea Unit to lay a wreath in remembrance at the downtown cenotaph. The motorcycle group is unique in Canada and enjoyed their visit to Manitoulin. Several have booked for next year. photo by Roy Eaton

MANITOULIN—A group of dedicated motorcycling enthusiasts have combined their favourite pastime with their favourite organization to create the Cavaliers Legion Riders Korea Unit, named in honour of a Korean War veteran.

The Korea Unit came to Manitoulin for a six-day ride and connected with Little Current Royal Canadian Legion Branch 177. The Korea Unit laid wreaths at the Little Current cenotaph and in Manitowaning before travelling out to the Manitoulin District Cenotaph in Central Manitoulin to honour all veterans who “made the ultimate sacrifice.” 

“It was an honour for Branch 177 Legion President Ruth Eadie and I to join them at the service,” said Mr. Eaton. “There are many individual Legion riders (including Little Current’s Ron Steeves) but there is only one official unit in Ontario,” he explained. “The Korea Unit is only a year-and-a-half old and already has 54 members.”

Korean Unit President Michel Joannette said that he and his wife were no strangers to Manitoulin, having visited a number of times in the past. That made the Island a shoo-in for a club ride.

“I said ‘why don’t we go to visit Manitoulin? It’s a nice place and nobody had been here before’,” said Mr. Joannette. “So we reserved the whole Manitoulin Inn. Since we were here we thought ‘why not visit the local Legion’.”

The group travelled up from Tobermory, spending a few days on the Island and heading back. The run started a week ago, heading out in the rain. Most of the members hail from Eastern Ontario.

Mr. Joanette had high praise for the service on Manitoulin, citing an incident when one member’s battery failed. “The manager got on the phone and lent us his truck to go and get the part.”

Mr. Joanette said the only purpose for the unit, besides having fun riding across the province and beyond, is to raise money for homeless veterans. The homeless residence in Rockford is the main focus. “We should not have homeless veterans in Canada,” said Mr. Joanette.

The unit was named in honour of member Wanda Duffy Bertram of Cornwall’s father Elburn Duffy.

“We love it here,” she said. “We have already booked our room at My Friend’s Inn for next year. We will stay longer next year. Betty Ann and Wayne MacDougall have been wonderful.”

Following a few photographs and some camaraderie with their Island Legion members, the Korea Unit motorcyclists mounted up and headed out to explore more of the Island before heading to Tobermory and a roundabout journey home.

Lest we forget.