Smiles about with Veterans Lodge visits

Second World War veteran Jose Goold chats with Petty Officer Second Class Emily Whalen over a glass of juice.

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

Ahead of Remembrance Day, sailors took the time to say ‘thank you’ to the men and women who served before them.

On the third Thursday of each month, military members from CFB Esquimalt gather for coffee, tea, and conversation with residents of Broadmead Care’s Veterans Lodge. On Nov. 9, volunteer members from various units at the base will make a memorable trip to the Saanich long-term care home as part of its weeklong lineup of Remembrance Day activities.

“This type of outreach is extremely special as it offers us a connection to those who served before us,” says Petty Officer Second Class (PO2) Emily Whalen. “These visits leave a lasting impression on our sailors and offer a greater sense of pride to wear the uniform.”

Sailor First Class Robyn Murree of Naval Fleet School (Pacific) meets with Veterans Lodge resident Francis ‘Fritz‚’ Keegan, a former Army soldier who served Canada’s UN Peacekeeping missions in Cyprus, Egypt and the Golan Heights.

As a Business Manager for the Base Executive Branch who organizes and attends the monthly visits, PO2 Whalen says the gratitude and learning process is a two-way street. On Oct. 19, she was one of 20 members who stopped in to socialize with the veterans at Veterans Memorial Lodge’s Oak Room.

Veterans Memorial Lodge is home to the Second World War, Korean War, and veterans who served in Canada’s Peace Keeping Missions during the Cold War era.

There are several centenarians at the lodge, including 108-year-old Albert Middleton. Middleton served as a General Serviceman and repaired Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aircrafts in England during the Second World War. Middleton says he truly relishes the visits.

Former RCAF member and Second World War veteran Bob Miller visits with Petty Officer Second Class Joseph Darbison at Veterans Lodge.

“I’m having a good time and really look forward to these visits,” said Middleton. He had been chatting with PO2 Joseph Darbison of the Transition Unit about the CAF’s new uniforms and rules and regulations for military dress.

“This was my first time attending and I find it very interesting to share stories of military service and say hello,” said PO2 Darbison.

There are also many repeat visitors from the base, including Master Sailor (MS) Ingeborg LeClair, who says she loves the opportunity to meet with Veterans Memorial Lodge residents.

“The reason it’s such a great experience is because I always learn something new and see familiar faces whom I have met before and also new ones,” said MS LeClair.

“It’s really very nice to have this sort of interaction – with or without masks – as I find it very interesting to speak with today’s military members and exchange stories,” said 98-year-old Malcolm Bull, a former RCAF member who served during the Second World War. 

“Even though they wear different uniforms and technology has changed, I think it’s very important to sit down and talk to today’s members about what life in the military is like for them,” said Keith Lavender, 98, who previously served 30 years in Canada’s Air Force and Army.

Carolyn Cameron, Broadmead Activity Worker Team Lead, says residents of Veterans Memorial Lodge and Broadmead’s Veterans Day program look forward to the monthly meetings with military members with great anticipation.

Sailor First Class Jacob Thomson of the Personnel Coordination Centre meets with 92-year-old Army and Air Force veteran Keith Lavender.

“The visits are about sharing stories and making connections, and this is a great opportunity where residents can find meaning from the engaged and organic conversations,” says Cameron. “Being a veteran is a huge part of the residents’ identity, so it is a privilege for me to provide an environment where they are seen, heard, and cared for.”

Broadmead Care is a non-profit organization that offers long-term care and programs for people who require everyday assistance. Veterans Memorial Lodge at Broadmead contains six different lodges (living areas) and a total of 225 residents. For more information about their Homes and programs, visit

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