GORE BAY—The Western Manitoulin Legion Branch 514 had the distinct honour of recognizing and awarding a very important veteran, Calvin Best, who served in World War II. He shared stories with immediate past president Carrie Lewis and membership and veteran services chair Marilyn Clarke at the Legion Branch last week.
“I go back to the early 1950s with the Legion,” said Mr. Best, when contacted by the Recorder at his home in Sault Ste. Marie on Friday of last week. “I am originally from Gordon Township and have lived in Sault Ste. Marie for the past 60 years. I used to work for the Ontario Paper Company on the West End of the Island after the army, and then moved up here (Sault Ste. Marie) to work and never left.”
“The original Legion had a lot of the veterans-members who served in World War I and World War II,” said Mr. Best. “As veterans we got together and decided we needed to open a Legion branch and applied for our official charter.” Once the group got their charter they used the airport garage to hold meetings. “There were a lot of veterans around in those days.”
Mr. Best, who grew up in Gordon Township, also served in the Korean War. He was an instructor and acting sergeant and travelled throughout the United States, Philippines, the Suez Canal and other places. He had the honour of being known as a great marksman.
He became a member of the Branch 514 in 1951—an original charter member.
He was involved when the Legion bought the building on Meredith Street in Gore Bay and participated in major renovations. He did a great deal of painting, he reminisced.
Mr. Best stated there were many WWI veterans around then. He became Sergeant at Arms for Branch 514 and was involved in many Cenotaph parades.
“After we got our charter and decided to construct a new Legion building we bought property that had been used for a toy shop in Gore Bay,” said Mr. Best. “I was one of the guys that worked hard to renovate the building.”
“I’ve been a member of the Legion for 65 years,” said Mr. Best. “I kept my Legion membership on Western Manitoulin. Up here in the Sault we had about 3,000 veterans in the early 1950s that started up the Legion. I just felt I was needed more as a member on Western Manitoulin so I never surrendered my membership to Branch 514.”
“I am a low key type of person, I don’t like a lot of public exposure,” acknowledged Mr. Best. “To have been a Legion member for 65 years is like a badge of honour among us old folks. There are very few of us around. It’s nice to be recognized by the local Legion like this.”
“It was a very great pleasure and a proud moment to present Calvin Best with a commemorative Canada 150 medal and his 65 years of service pin,” stated Ms. Lewis.