Elsie Forbes and Winnie Koal are both two long-time members of the local Royal Canadian Legion.
Forbes has been a member for almost 50 years. She was actively involved with the Legion’s Ladies Auxiliary, known to many as LA.
“I joined the Legion because my two oldest brothers fought in the Second World War, and thankfully, they survived,” said Forbes. “Also, a cousin of mine came back from the war where he had been wounded.”
Forbes says that she wanted to assist in any possible way to the members of the Legion in the various activities organized by this institution.
“I joined the members of LA because I felt the urge to provide some assistance at the different fundraising events, such as banquets, curling, fishing derby, birthdays, anniversaries and other annual and special programs,” she said. All the funds raised by the auxiliary members are to support the Legion organization.
“On Remembrance Day, we all took part in the service held on Nov. 11 at the old ADSS Auditorium.”
Forbes and her four brothers and one sister were born and lived on a farm, near Kennedy, Saskatchewan. She moved to the west coast several decades ago.
Also, as a Legion representative, she joined the Folkfest Committee, a group that planned the celebration of Canada Day festivities.
“My LA group participated at the annual Folkfest Parade on July 1,” she recalled.
Winnie (Winnifred) Koal was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan and has been a member of the local Royal Canadian Legion since 1972.
“I’m proud to say that in 2016 I received my 45 year-pin,” she said.
Koal attends the Remembrance Day Service to honour those who lost their lives in the wars each year and represents the Silver Cross Mothers, in honour of the sons lost in the wars.
Koal, who has lived most of her life in Port Alberni—including the years she did her schooling here—joined the Canadian Air Force in the 1950s. She had been advised by one of her school counsellors to join the force services.
“When I was in grade 12, I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do with my life so I decided to follow my counsellor´s recommendation and serve my country,” she said.
She then enrolled in the Canadian Air Force and served there for the next four years.
“In 1954 I sailed with a contingent of colleagues on the SS Atlantic to Germany,” she recalled. “There I worked as a bilingual switchboard operator for over three years.”
She says that her stay in that country was not only a good working experience, but a lifetime opportunity to learn about other places because it allowed her to travel to several locations in Europe, like Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Alps.
While stationed in Germany, she met and married Anthony Thompson, also from the Air Force. The couple had their first daughter there and three more later on in Canada. After their marriage, Winnie left her Air Force posting to look after the family and work for a while at “Kresky’s” coffee shop in Winnipeg.
In December 1964, Winnie, Anthony and their daughters moved to Port Alberni, where Anthony found a job at the plywood and pulp mills. Soon after, Winnie and Anthony separated.