Our executive director, Melanie Timmons, recently visited the Horton Road Legion in Calgary and wrote this story on their renovations and re-opening.
It sat as an Arpi’s plumbing warehouse decades ago and no one remembers what it was before that. The unassuming building has morphed a few times, with its latest transition complete. We sat down with the inspiring gentleman who initiated this recent renewal and he shared his vision with us.
Dusty Rhodes is determined that the Horton Road Legion will not join the growing list of Calgary restaurants and businesses that have permanently closed their doors. His team recently launched a push to adapt to a changing world and meet the demands of a new generation.
(Pictured Left: Renovated bar and donor wall)
This is not your Grandpa’s legion. And it’s not a private club. Dusty envisions a community centre that welcomes current members, veterans and RCMP, as well as the larger community of neighbours – both businesses and local residents. The goal is for locals to drop in and mingle with the regulars, and maybe become regulars too. He’d also like to bring in younger veterans to have a mix of ages and backgrounds, military and civilians, meeting and socializing under one roof; it will be a community centre and more. Spacious, newly renovated rooms accommodate private functions (weddings, parties, gatherings) while the main dining area remains open to the public. People can drop in for a bite to eat or a cup of tea or just to play darts!
The renovations began with the mid-March closure due to Covid-19. The board seized that as an opportunity to dive into transition mode and revitalize the entire space.
Generous donations of materials including a new bar, an electrical system, and an upgraded fire panel were secured from corporate and individual benefactors who gave from the heart (the Legion is a not-for-profit organization, it’s not a charity that can provide tax receipts to donors).
(Pictured Right: Dusty Rhodes showing off a resurfaced pool table)
Meanwhile, over the past five months, a hand-picked team of dedicated volunteers scrubbed, sanded, stained and painted every surface in the building. The job has pretty much wrapped up, both on time and on budget.
That’s not all. A simple new menu has been created by the new kitchen staff – with a plan to offer fresh baked goods and casual dining that now includes breakfast. Corporate breakfast meetings will continue to be booked but now anyone can drop in for coffee and breakfast too. Dusty sees this as an ongoing experiment and expects there will be tweaks to the menu as they move forward.
With approximately 1700 members, 50% of which are civilian supporters, this legion has the largest membership in Canada. Last year, 1500 people came to the Remembrance Day service to fulfill the two mandates of all Legions: support for veterans and remembrance. They have a large, supportive community, but plan to widen the breadth of support and number of members. One hurdle to overcome is the widely held misconception that one must be ex-military in order to walk into a legion, and that’s just not true.
The soft opening was Wednesday, September 9th. A great place to check in with friends and have a coffee. Reasonable prices, plenty of free parking and friendly staff, who are gradually coming back throughout the September re-opening. If you have a chance to check it out, doors will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays. Drop by for a coffee or a light meal … or a game of darts!
The Horton Road Legion is located at:
9202 Horton Rd SW, Calgary, AB T2V 2X4