A BRIEF HISTORY OF BRANCH #24, 1946-1996
Branch 24 was established in the mining town of Sudbury, Ontario, on January 22, 1952. Formed quite late, it was able to avoid the host of problems encountered by other branches caused by the two year labour contracts and inexperience in the Canadian way.
Three years after it was formed, the branch purchased its own building in 1955. The Polish Soldier's Centre opened its doors on April 23, 1955. The colours, a gift from the local Polish community, were obtained in 1957.
The Polish veterans were extremely active in the general Polish community, many holding elected positions on the executive board of the Sudbury branch of the Canadian Polish Congress. For example, in 1961, six combatants sat on the board. This close relationship was beneficial to both organizations.
Improvements to the building, made in 1961, added a stage and an apartment for the caretaker. A new dance floor was laid in 1983.
By the mid sixties the branch had grown to 130 members and the Combatants Credit Union, established in 1956, 172 members. The Combatants Credit Union merged with the Copper Cliff Credit Union in 1980.
The branch enjoyed a very good relationship with the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, so much so, that it was the only organization that the Legion invited to participate in Veterans Week. And each year Polish combatants marched, side by side, with their Canadian colleagues on Remembrance Day.
Most of the members were employed by mining companies such as the International Nickel Company (INCO) and Falconbridge Nickel Mines Ltd. Consequently, what happened at work greatly impacted the well-being of the branch. When the 1978 strike lasted longer than anticipated, a decrease in revenues at the branch was experienced as the Sunday dances were attended by fewer people. The end of the strike was welcomed with great relief by all.
The branch participated in local media coverage of Polish World War Two events. In 1976, Mr. K. Debek was interviewed on radio and TV (CKSO) about the role of the Polish Armed Forces in the West during the war. A few days later, a two hour program on the history of Poland and WW2 aired on a local radio station. In 1980, the branch sponsored a half hour TV program on the Katyn Forest Massacre.
By the end of the 1980s, branch membership began to decrease. Not only were members passing away but their children, having finished their education, often moved out of Sudbury. A membership drive brought in a number of new and younger members.
One of the hardest working members was Mrs. Irena Dembek who, in 1989, at the same time, served as president of the Women's Auxiliary, Branch # 24 treasurer, and president of the Sudbury branch of the Canadian Polish Congress!
A monument was erected to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the branch. Made from nickel and copper donated by INCO, it bore the description "In memory of our countrymen who fought in WW2 and those who gave their lives fighting for freedom for Poland and Canada." It was unveiled on October 4, 1992 on the grounds of St. Casimir's Church.
The branch also initiated projects which benefited the whole community, such as building a senior's home, the Solidarity Lodge.
SOME NAMES ASSOCIATED WITH BRANCH # 24
Presidents of Branch # 24
Henryk Antonowicz, V.M. (1959, 1983)
E. Blaszczyk (1954, 1958)
K. Dembek (1960, 1965)
J. Dubis (1964, 1972, 1974, 1978-79)
W. Kinio (1992-96)
J. Korzeniowski (1969)
M. Krajewski (1957)
T. Laba (1956)
M. Marciszewski (1955)
W. Rychlak (1961)
W. Sawicki (1976, 1982, 1987, 1989)
E. Solipiwko (1981)
A. Stankiewicz (1953)
T. Szatkowski (1962, 1966-68, 1971, 1985-86, 1990-91)
B. Tomaszewski (1952)
M. Tomczyk (1975, 1984)
J. Tumanowski (1963)
W. Wykurz (1970)
Founding Members of Branch # 24
Mrs. Renata Alikhan (dance group director, 1983)
K. Blaszczyk (former president of the CPC)
T. Galecki (former president of the CPC)
Mrs. Stanislawa Kaplan (Women's Auxilliary president, 1985)
Mrs. G. Kinio-Chalk
Barbara Majoch (Miss Polonia Sudbury, 1978)
T. Pohorski (former president of the CPC)
Mr. S. Salach
E. Sawicka (Miss Polonia Sudbury, 1977)
T. Szadtowski (Szatkowski)
Father Edward Wawrzyk
Joanna Witek (Miss Polonia Sudbury, 1992)
M. Wojcik (former president of the CPC)