Poppies to Bloom!

The Great War Veterans Association [G.W.V.A.] was a national veteran's organization, and local veterans met in July 1917, at the Empress Hotel, to discuss the creation of a Chilliwack branch. The aims of the society were to assist in the provision of benefits for veterans. However it was not until December 23, 1918 that a second meeting, held at Boyle's Cigar Stand, provided the impetuous to form though a slate of officers was not elected until mid-January 1919.

Initially the G.W.V.A. met in the Returned Soldiers Room in the Hart Block until they outgrew this accommodation and relocated in May to rooms in the Henderson Block. Membership stood at 80, and although a women's auxiliary to the organization decorated the new facilities, the auxiliary was not officially formed until September. In November, with an active membership of 150, the G.W.V.A. expanded into an adjacent room located above the firm of Denmark and Burton.  From the outset the G.W.V.A. organized several dances and concerts, assisted with the Salvation Army’s Red Shield Campaign and participated in political discussions reflecting veteran's interests. In 1922 the local branch first administered the Poppy Campaign, which the national organization started the year before. “Poppies to Bloom on Armistice Day” read the Progress headline informing the public that November 11 would annually be “Poppy Day from coast to coast.”

As several veterans’ groups were in operation across Canada, calls were heard for their amalgamation in an effort to channel veterans’ requests. The G.W.V.A. remained in Chilliwack until 1926. In March of that year the Chilliwack branch of the Canadian Legion was endorsed and fully organized by the end of April. Locally the G.W.V.A. joined with the Canadian Legion in May/June but continued to operate until their last function on November 19, 1926.



Chilliwack Museum and Archives 45820 Spadina Avenue, Chilliwack, BC, Canada V20 1T3 [604.795.5210]