Visitors to the Cranbrook Legion will be allowed to wear their hats in the building.
The change comes after a decision by the local branch, in an effort to attract a broader customer base.
“It’s really only our own members and guests who are willing to follow that particular rule,” Colleen Shaw, Cranbrook Royal Canadian Legion president. “I’m really hoping that we can not only bring more people in, but younger people. We have to get the younger crowd and bring them on board.”
Shaw said there is only one exception to the repealing of hat removal requirements.
“On the week leading up the Remembrance Day, we’re going to say please doff your hats and take them off. Otherwise, they can stay on,” said Shaw.
According to Shaw, the rule requiring hats to be removed did not necessarily come from the idea of paying tribute to veterans.
“When you went into a place like a canteen on a military base, they took off their hats because they want everyone to be equal at the canteen or what have you,” said Shaw. “They took that and put it into the legions. It was about making everybody equal.”
She notes that the push to amend the rule was a long time in the making.
“It was the thing that they felt kept them apart from other clubs, rather than just another bar. They saw it as a place to promote the veterans and what they did for our country, so it became a closed thing. The hat rule made it easier to maintain,” said Shaw. “It wasn’t going to be sustainable without making major changes that would make people want to come in and have a drink and see what’s going on.”
Shaw feels that the Roal Canadian Legion fills an important role in the community.
“If the Legion is not around, there’s not going to be anybody to educate about the wars, what happened as a result of war or military conflict,” said Shaw. “We need more young people, and we need to support our past to make our future better.”
Shaw said the legion is always looking for more members, and you do not need to be a veteran or currently serving in the military or as a first responder to join.