About Our Branch
What We Value
The branch is the most important element in the Legion structure. That is because the Legion is driven by its membership and much of its good works are accomplished at the branch level. Each branch elects executive officers who in turn chair committees which actually manage the branch’s involvement in Legion programs.
At the branch level, members have the opportunity to take part in a wide variety of activities, all of which will relate either directly or indirectly to major programs. In addition, they enjoy privileges of membership: access to branch sports and social events and the wonderful feeling of comradeship and being part of a long history of service.
Each branch, although under the jurisdiction of Provincial Command and the Dominion Command General By-Laws, must conform to the municipal by-laws of the city, town or district in which it is situated. Branches must conform to all local zoning regulations and are subject to such taxation as may be imposed.
Our branch 412 has been in existence since 1946. Veterans and members are very proud of their history and achievements since the inception of the Branch in 1946. On the front the Branch’s building, the sign reads: “Dom Weterana im. Gen. Wl. Sikorskiego” “Veterans’ House commemorated to Gen. Wl. Sikorski “
Polish Veterans with the help of the local Polish Community built it. We as members of this branch and the and executive must ensure that “Dom Weterana” continuous to be well and responsibly managed, remains Polish and remains as the Polish Community Center in KW area.
Besides conducting strictly Branch meetings and other Legion business, the Branch allows the Canadian Polish Congress, Kitchener District, to have its office. The Polish Dance Ensemble “Kujawiacy”, practice twice a week in the main banquet hall, and various Polish organizations have their meetings at the Branch premises free of charge. The Branch hosts Youth Education Awards every March. and gives annually large sums to charitable causes, students’ grants to members’ children and sponsors two Polish soccer teams, English T – ball team, sponsors Canadian athletes and gives donations to the two local Hospitals.
Brief History of Our Branch
Following the World War II and after returning from Europe, many Canadian veterans were joining the Royal Canadian Legion (RCL). In 1943 in Tehran and 1945 in Yalta, Great Britain and USA, two allies of Poland during the Second World War, agreed that the entire Polish territory after the war would fall into the sphere of influence and control of the Soviet Union under the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin. The Polish eastern border was substantially moved westward and a large part of the former eastern territories of Poland was ceded to the Soviet Union. Owing to what is now known as “The Big Three” betrayal, most Polish serviceman from the 2nd Polish Corps which fought gallantly in Africa and Italy, and those from the 1st Armored Division, which fought with a great distinction in Western and Northern Europe, decided against returning to Poland, now fully controlled by the Soviets. Canada agreed to accept over 4,000 of those Polish veterans. In anticipation of language problems the Executive of Branch 50 RCL, with the help of 17 members of Polish descent, formed a new Branch 412 which received its own Charter on May 20, 1946. Under the Charter, the Polish Veterans’ Branch 412 RCL, has had the right to conduct branch business, meetings and write minutes in the Polish language.
The first Branch 412 Executive Officers were as follows:
President – John Startek
1st Vice President – John Zych
2nd Vice President – Adam Wojtkowski
Secretary/Treasurer – Louis Warzecha
Sgt-at-Arms – Ted Zmija
The first group of Polish veterans arrived in Kitchener from Europe in the Fall of 1946. The local Polish community in Kitchener-Waterloo received them with open arms and the new Polish Branch 412 invited them to join- and they did. During the first two years of existence the new Branch 412 took advantage of Branch 50 hospitality. Due to increase in membership and need for more space the Branch bought a house at 321 Wellington St. N. in 1948. The growth continued and in 1964 after hard work and many financial sacrifices by the Branch members and Polonia at large, the Branch moved into a new building at 601 Wellington St. where it has been located since then. The Commemorative Building Plaque in the banquet hall lobby bears all the names of those who were instrumental in the process of acquiring a new building for the Branch.
Besides conducting strictly Branch meetings and other Legion business, the Branch considers itself to be the Polish Community Center in Kitchener-Waterloo where the Canadian Polish Congress, Kitchener District, has its office, free of charge. The Polish Dance Ensemble “Kujawiacy”, practice twice a week in the main banquet hall, and various Polish organizations have their meetings at the Branch premises free of charge. The Branch hosts Youth Education Awards every March. The Branch gives annually large sums to charitable causes, students’ grants to members’ children and sponsors two Polish soccer teams. Since the inception the Branch has taken active part in all anniversaries of national importance to the Polish Community, particularly the 1000 Years of Christianity in Poland in 1966, then annually in the commemoration of the First Polish Constitution of May 3rd, 1791, the Monte Cassino Victory of May 18, 1944 by the 2nd Polish Corps, and the Polish Independence Day of November 11, 1918.
The Branch is most grateful to have a very dedicated and rejuvenated Ladies Auxiliary. They have been most supportive at all times. Since their beginning in 1954 they have been doing great job for the Branch with their superb cooking and hospitality. They also help the Branch financially with their donations.
Veterans and members are very proud of their history and achievements since the inception of the Branch in 1946. On the front the Branch’s building, the sign reads: “Dom Weterana im. Gen. Wl. Sikorskiego” (Veterans’ House commemorated to Gen. Wl. Sikorski)(General Vladislav Sikorski was the Prime Minister of the Polish Government in Exile in London until his tragic death in an air crash in Gibraltar in 1943) because Polish Veterans with the help of the local Polish Community built it. We now charge all future presidents and executives to ensure that “Dom Weterana” continuous to be well and responsibly managed, remains Polish and remains the Polish Community Center.