The group of ladies in Lytton who coordinated the renaissance of the local Legion

The group of ladies in Lytton who coordinated the renaissance of the local Legion

Lytton Legion’s renaissance continues

With the debt cleared away, an intrepid group of volunteers has embarked on an ambitious renovation schedule.

Bernie Fandrich

Last week’s story was about a core group of four Lytton ladies—Denise Haugen, Betty Charlie, Karen Haugen and Denise MacIntyre—whose vision and ambition it was to pay off the debts of the Lytton Royal Canadian Legion so that the building and property wouldn’t be sold off at a tax sale.

They succeeded in paying off thousands of dollars in debts, and their next challenge was to come up with a renovations plan for the main floor of the building. They wanted a facility that would be utilized by the entire community, for socials, weddings, special functions, and as a Legion.

The BC Liquor Store had rented the main floor of the building for decades, and the space was built for their specific requirements. When they failed to renew their lease, the need to renovate became a necessity. Village of Lytton grant writer Tawnya Collins soon secured $65,000 in funding for phase 1 renovations to the main floor. The money would be sufficient to pay for architect’s drawings, interior framing, a new heating system, an electrical retrofit, and new insulation.

Then many volunteers, and groups such as the local firefighters, began tearing apart the main floor so that the upgrades could be performed. Everyone was delighted to find, behind a wall, a stage that still had a 20-foot-long long movie screen. Flashbacks! The building had been a movie theatre up to about 60 years ago, with regular Saturday night feature-length movies.

In the mid 1950s, one of the projectionists was recently arrived schoolteacher Joe Chute, who met Peggy Chute (née Harvey), also a young, new teacher in Lytton, who became his “assistant” in the projection booth. They soon married, named their first-born son Harvey, raised their entire family in Lytton, and are life-long residents actively involved in all aspects of the community. But that’s another story.

In January 2015 Legion members elected Sheila Maguire as their new president. Immediately displaying her extraordinary organizational skills, Sheila formed a building committee consisting of herself, Jo Johnson, Tawyna Collins, Lorna Fandrich, and the core group of ladies to coordinate the renovations and improvements.

“My biggest challenge is sourcing the building trades and contractors and getting a quote from them. Then the challenge is to get the job done,” confesses Sheila. “Sometimes nobody responds to a quote request. I just keep sending them out again and again until finally someone needs the work and they quote.”

All the work in phase 1 has now been completed—behind schedule but within budget. Funding of $55,000 for phase 2 has been secured, with an additional $30,000 applied for. Construction will start in May. This phase includes major structural beam replacement, new plumbing, drywall installation, and hopefully interior painting. The final phase will include the purchase and installation of furnishings, kitchen equipment, and flooring. Funding will be applied for once phase 2 has been completed.

“When we’re done, we hope that the Legion will be the hub of our community. We plan to hang the huge screen above the stage and project sporting events on a regular basis,” says Maguire. “The Legion will be available for weddings, as a meeting place, and of course just as a hangout where folks can come and relax, enjoy a beverage, and chat with their friends. I think we’ll sell popcorn just for old times’ sake.”

Everyone on the building committee is looking forward to finally enjoying the fruits of their dedication and labour.

Corrections: Last week I wrote that “the estate of local resident Daryl Webster donated $1,000.” It was in fact Daryl Webster himself, who is alive and well, who donated $1,000 to the Legion. Apologies for the error. Also, somehow Ruth Dunham became Denise MacIntyre’s mother. Ruth considered adopting MacIntyre, but decided that her daughter Denise Haugen was all she really needed.