By: Orrin Farries
The drudgery of full-time student life is inspiring a powerful thirst. With University students being of the smart-technology era, where convenience is king, finding a congenial watering hole for evening libations can be quite the task. Where is close? Are the drinks expensive? Is the food any good? What is there to do? Unbeknown to many at Concordia University of Edmonton, we are but a stone’s throw from an establishment that claims host to a bevvy of affordable beverages and delicious pub-style dishes, complimentary billiard tables and dartboards, a hospitable staff, and a cozy environment to enjoy conversation with groups large or small. The establishment of which I speak is none other than The Royal Canadian Legion Norwood Branch #178 located on 112th avenue and 82nd street by the Stadium LRT station.
Instilling a feeling of community for first time visitors, you can almost hear the Cheers theme song play as you walk down the steps to the basement canteen where you’ll find the Norwood Legion’s perennial patrons, a rambunctious, engaging bunch, not fitting of the stereotypical image of Legionnaires. The staff spearheaded by the lovely Lise and Nancy, are incredibly welcoming. The atmosphere is so homey that you may get too comfortable, and end up staying for 50 games of billiards. But enough about my Friday night…the Norwood Legion should be your default hangout of choice as a student of Concordia, as it’s near, it’s dear, and within it’s cozy walls you can find refuge from looming deadlines and upcoming quizzes and just relax. It’s a pressure-free environment where you may take eat, take drink, or simply take a break. The ambient hum of the regulars is a calming respite from the oft-buzzing humdrum of activity happening on campus.
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Hot-tip: If you’re playing a game of billiards with three players, try the variation ‘Cutthroat’, whereupon when the first player sinks, that ball comes back onto the table, and they have claimed that set of balls, 1-5, 6-10, or 11-15, and he or she must try to keep those balls on the table while pocketing the rest. A player may sink their own ball, bringing it back onto the table, in order to keep shooting, however, if that player scratches while sinking their own ball, the ball stays down. Likewise, if a player scratches when sinking an opponent's ball, the opponents ball is replaced on the table.
The Norwood Legion has long been a part of the community since it’s first approval for charter in 1946, although the building that currently houses the Legion was not completed until 1958. Originally commissioned to be a hub of activity and a meeting place for members and veterans, the Norwood Legion has a new face: the face of hospitality. The public stigma about Legion branches around Canada, is that they are a ‘members only’ establishment, and that you either must be an active participant of the Armed Forces, or be in close relation to a member of active service. This is however, not the case. The doors are open, 11am-7pm Tuesday to Saturday, longer when numbers warrant extension, hosting many local groups. For example, Toastmasters, a speech-arts group that operates as a safe place to practice the art of making speeches comes in to practice every Thursday night. Local groups are not a hindrance to the operation of the canteen at the Norwood legion, as many of these meetings occur in the boardroom or the sequestered dartroom, leaving general occupants to go about enjoying the spacious canteen. With two large screen televisions often occupied with live major league sports games, this little piece of heaven just 7 blocks west of our learned institution may become your new favourite place to unwind with what president Ernie calls, the best “money for value” venue in Edmonton. I’m inclined to agree. If you’re in any further need of convincing to give the Norwood Legion a visit, know that 25% of fund raising proceeds are donated to local charities. Along with being a pillar of the community, the Norwood Legion is a manifest of goodwill towards the community, and a place that I will always hold near to my heart.
Signing off this local spotlight,