The 2019 New Year’s Levee at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 108 in Winchester took a few moments to gather for a photo. From the left, legion public relations officer Tina Asselin, zone G3 deputy zone commander Aubrey Callan, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 108 president Janet Morris, zone G3 commander Don Swerdfeger and legion first vice president Janine Fawcett. Thompson Goddard photo
Carolyn Thompson Goddard
WINCHESTER – A steady stream of visitors gathered during the afternoon of Jan. 1 at Branch 108 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Winchester during the fourth annual Branch New Year’s Day Levee.
The New Year’s Levee in Canada is a tradition dating back to the fur-trade where the governor of the fort received fur-traders on New Year’s Day followed by a reception, with the governor in Quebec during the French Regime adopted the practice of a New Year’s fête which was used to inform residents of political events and extract an oath of allegiance. Today the event is open to all members of the community and held throughout the country by the Governor General of Canada, Provincial Lieutenant-Governors, municipalities, military establishments and branches of the Royal Canadian Legion.
During the afternoon event, there were visitors from the local community as well as from Kemptville and Russell areas. Legion president Janet Morris was “pleased with the turnout” at the levee which featured an opportunity to meet, visit as well as enjoy a variety of food and drink. Included on the refreshment table was Moose Milk, a traditional drink found at New Year’s Levees throughout Canada.
Moose Milk is reputed to have originated during a Second World War function at an Ontario military base, as well as being a descendant of earlier levee drinks such as le sang de caribou. Le sang de caribou was a drink in which wine was mixed with alcohol and spices to improve its taste and served at the Governor’s Levee. When Quebec came under British colonial rule, a drink combining whiskey, goat’s milk and mixed spices was served at these events. There are a variety of Moose Milk recipes which are used today, with many being a closely guarded local secret. Without commenting on the exact recipe used in Winchester, Morris told the Chesterville Record eggnog, ice cream, spices and alcohol were included in the Winchester Legion’s beverage.
In addition to legion members and members of the community, legion deputy district G commander Joel Van Snick, zone G3 deputy zone commander Aubrey Callan and zone G3 commander Don Swerdfeger attended the event. Swerdfeger reminded people to visit their local legion before wishing “everyone a happy and prosperous New Year”.