PICTOU — Ten years of volunteering for Branch 16 of the Royal Canadian Legion has been rewarding for Janice Watters.
She was recently elected for her third term as president of Branch 16 and feels she has grown in the role.
Watters originally succeeded Violet Arbuckle as president in 2015 and remained president in 2016. She fulfilled the role of past-president in 2017 before returning as president for this year.
“I was nominated by the members,” she said, recounting her first opportunity to become president. “They appreciated how I work with people and how I support the Legion. I like the challenge and I like the people.
“I was very nervous at first — I didn’t know what I was going to do. I’ve had to get used to the changes, but I’m not as nervous as the first time. I’m here for the comrades, not to smother them but to help them. It’s an honour to represent Branch 16.”
Watters can trace her decision to join the Legion to the membership of others. Her grandfather, John William Wright, was born in Westville, lived in Riverton and was a drill sergeant in the North Nova Scotia Highlanders. Her father, John Stewart Wright, lives in Riverton and was also a member of the Highlanders.
Her husband John Watters is a retired member of the Victorian Regimental infantry and she accompanied him to events at the Legion. She nursed six veterans in their homes, beginning in 2004, and provides nursing care for her husband.
“I always found it interesting, going to the Legion events with John,” she said.
Her husband John served on the Branch 16 executive in 2017.
Membership used to be much larger at Branch 16 but has held steady in recent years at around 300.
“We have 275 members but it was 715 members when I took it over for three months in 1975,” current membership chairman Edward Burke said.
Burke plans to step down this year.
Younger members help sustain the branch’s total, which includes about 10 veterans.
Categories include military members, their relatives and what are called fraternal voting members.
“Everyone helps,” Watters said. “I’m very lucky. They do their jobs. Sometimes there are conflicts but we’re adults and we have to work things out and get along.”
Besides ongoing renovations to the building, where the branch has been located for 45 years since 1973, plans call for installing automatic doors at the front entrance.
“You can always do something,” Watters said. “We’re still doing renovations.”
Janice Watters, president of Branch 16 Royal Canadian Legion in Pictou, stands in front of the mural of the HMCS Pictou located in the lounge. (Goodwin photo)