The late Don Bryant, receiving a certificate of recognition from the Poppy Campaign in 2012, was a stalwart volunteer with Royal Canadian Legion Branch 293. (PHOTO COURTESY SONJA DRINKWATER)

The late Don Bryant, receiving a certificate of recognition from the Poppy Campaign in 2012, was a stalwart volunteer with Royal Canadian Legion Branch 293. (PHOTO COURTESY SONJA DRINKWATER)

Port Alberni’s Legion loses beloved leader, staunch volunteer

Don Bryant was known for his involvement in numerous Legion activities


Special to the AV News

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 293 in Port Alberni lost an active and dedicated citizen in 2020. Don Bryant, who passed away in October, was someone who was known and highly regarded for his avid services to the Legion, the Alberni Rescue Squad for 42 years, and for his continuous assistance to the seniors of the Valley.

Born in Port Alberni before the Great Depression 92 years ago, Bryant followed his father’s steps by volunteering as a member of the city’s Legion, serving as vice-president and president of former Branch 169 for several terms.

(Port Alberni once had two Legion branches, No. 169 and No. 55. They amalgamated and formed Branch 293 in 2011.)

READ: New Alberni legion branch chooses building headquarters

“My dad, Harry Bryant, came to Canada from England with my mother at the beginning of the 20th century, and went to the front line during the First World War, and so did my two older brothers who fought in the Second World War. I was too young to be recruited,” Bryant said during an interview held on his 90th birthday.

“I was born on Adelaide St. in Alberni and attended Alberni Elementary School on Burke and Elizabeth, past the train track.”

As a young man, he began working in a logging camp and later as an employee for the Ministry of Highways, a job he kept for more than 40 years, driving trucks, graders and other types of road improvement machinery. He proudly said that he was part of the crew that built the highway to Ucluelet and Tofino. “Before the construction of that road people used to go to those communities by boat.”

During his life, he witnessed many changes in the Alberni Valley. “Johnston Road was the only way to get to town from Victoria in those days, and at the bottom of that road, turning left and crossing the bridge, was the way to get south to Port Alberni.” He also said among other many changes and events seen in his lifetime were the amalgamation of the two cities, Alberni and Port Alberni; the Tsunami of 1964; the construction of many roads, buildings and places of interest such as Harbour Quay; the city halls; the pulp and paper mill; the hospital and Legion buildings; the Capitol Theatre, which was built on the land owned by his grandmother (who also owned a boarding house where the old Arrowview Hotel used to stand) and more.

READ: VALLEY SENIORS: Don Bryant’s loyalty to Royal Canadian Legion shines through

Bryant was recognized and applauded by many for his involvement in the community, along with his Legion peers, by providing financial support to the seniors and their causes. As president of now-defunct Legion Branch No. 169, he helped present regular donations, (from fundraising activities, bingo games, the Poppy Fund, etc.) to residents and tenants of seniors homes for their comfort, enjoyment and well-being, as well as to other non-profit groups such as “Meals on Wheels”.

“The donations are for the comfort of seniors to be used for items normally not covered by the operational budgets. This is part of our mandate,” he once stated.

For several decades Bryant and other Legion members, through their visiting committees, paid regular visits to veterans staying in the hospital, or living in long-term care homes as well as shut-ins.

As a family man, Bryant was always ready to assist his children. “ When we needed him, my dad was always ready to help. We relied on him every time,” says Deb, his oldest daughter.

He was the grandfather of four and great-grandfather of five. “He adored them!”

“One of the activities we enjoyed the most as young kids was going to the bush with him to cut our own Christmas tree. We had lots of fun, but I think he had more fun than anybody else,” says Donna, his middle daughter.

Although the family did not go on frequent long trips, except one the family made to visit their mom’s relatives in Alberta, they used to go on camping excursions on the Island, which at times included fishing, berry picking and boat rides to Bamfield as part of the Legion’s fundraising activities.

“My father was a man who always put his family first. A great provider for the family,” says Linda , his younger daughter, also a Legion member.

“I have enjoyed being part of and working for the Legion all these years and especially helping others in the community,” Bryant said.

READ: Port Alberni’s Legion in danger of closing

Port AlberniRemembrance DayRoyal Canadian Legion


Don Bryant prepares to hand out a certificate of appreciation to Coulson Group from Royal Canadian Legion Branch 293 in 2010. Bryant passed away in October 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY SONJA DRINKWATER)

Don Bryant prepares to hand out a certificate of appreciation to Coulson Group from Royal Canadian Legion Branch 293 in 2010. Bryant passed away in October 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY SONJA DRINKWATER)

Just Posted

A mantle of smoke overhangs the city of Port Alberni, indicating a thermal inversion of the sort that commonly traps harmful smoke particulate in winter. (MIKE YOUDS PHOTO)
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District one step closer to burning bylaws

ACRD staff make amendments after public engagement

Aidan See played for the North Island Silvertips during the 2019-2020 season. (PHOTO COURTESY RON HAYES)
VIJHL: Port Alberni Bombers add hometown talent to roster

Junior B hockey club signs Aidan See, Blake Power and Grayson Erickson

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read