In early spring of 1946, the concept was born to establish a Newmarket branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. This initiative was spear-headed by far-sighted veterans Howard Brown, Bill LaParde and Bill Denne. Joining their efforts were veterans Jim Forhan, Hunt Taylor and Dr. Gordon Cock. These six veterans became the founding committee which was to evolve into the Newmarket branch. Originally using the residence of Howard Brown on Davis Drive, we eventually outgrew the location and it was necessary to take up headquarters in the “dug-out” of the Old Town Hall on Botsford Street.
In June of 1946, a meeting presided over by the Zone Commander saw the election of the first executive of the Newmarket branch. At this meeting the new executive passed a resolution to make an application to Dominion Command for the granting of a charter. The Royal Canadian Legion – Newmarket Branch #426 came into existence on September 18th, 1946.
The town approved the use of the old Officer’s Mess on the military camp for the branch to hold meetings. The Legion procured the old mess hall shortly afterwards. Membership grew steadily. Legion colours were presented to the President by Town Council on March 10, 1947.
Under the leadership of Milton Wesley, the old officer’s mess was moved to its present site and became the first legion hall. On September 2nd 1954, the Legion Newmarket Branch #426 was officially opened. The Legion soon became a recognized and influentially active force in the community. Membership continued to grow and the legion hall was expanded in 1960, the official opening of the enlarged hall taking place on September 15th, 1962. It was at this time the branch was officially named the Milton Wesley Branch in recognition of all Wesley’s hard work toward the progress of the Newmarket Legion. The new hall was named the Harold Eaton Hall, a member of the Newmarket branch and a Provincial Commander.
The branch continued to grow through the years and the hall was expanded to reflect this. In 1985 for example, a cocktail lounge was created both for members and the public.
The Milton Wesley Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion continues to loyally serve both veterans and the community. Remaining faithful to the key principles of the Legion’s articles of faith: remembering Canadians who gave their lives so our nation could be free; loyalty to the sovereign and Canada; safeguarding the rights of the disabled, the widows, widowers and dependents of those who served; encouraging the national and united spirit in Canada, ordered government, peace, goodwill between Canadians and other nations; and advocating the maintenance of adequate defenses and nurturing the spirit of comradeship in the nation both in times of peace and wartime.
Throughout its remarkable existence the Milton Wesley Branch has not only remained true to legion principles but has also provided nothing short of excellence in the area of community service to the Town of Newmarket.