Orville Hand 1918-2009

Born and raised in Bradford, Mr. Hand was well known as the namesake of the Bradford Legion, Branch 251, but he is also fondly remembered by the many he touched during his lifetime.

During his teen years, he worked at Hunt & Stephenson bakery, where he rolled dough and braved storms to deliver hot cross buns, before going to work at the hockey stick factory in 193 7, where he was the only employee allowed to drive the boss’ Cadillac.

Three years later, he travelled to Fort Erie where he worked at the Fleet Aircraft centre before joining the Royal Canadian Air Force on Oct. 3, 1941.

During the Second World War, Mr. Hand was stationed in Trenton, Ont., Davidson, Sask. and Agnes, Ont., before being sent overseas in 1942, when he became an ambulance driver in Topcliffe, England. He returned home to Bradford on April 2, 1945, just in time see his best friend, Gordon Church, get married on April 4 and attend a dance in Newton Robinson. That’s where Mr. Hand met Helen Noble, to whom he was married on Oct. 30, 1946.

The two bought a house together in 1947 and in 1948, Mr. Hand opened the Imperial Gas station on Barrie Street, which he ran until 1952. The following year, he built Hand’s Garage and opened a Sunoco Station on Church Street, which he ran for 19 years. “He was a great mechanic. We always remarked to each other, we’re happy to be here,” Bradford West
Gwillimbury Deputy Mayor Dennis Roughley said.

A community-oriented man, Mr. Hand donated land to the Legion and has held mortgages for the organization in its expansion of the building over the years.

He is one of the co-founding members who built the Legion Hall in 1950, where he was always very active and served as president and second vice-president for a number of years. He served as poppy chairperson for more than 50 years and never missed a parade or function that required him to get dressed in uniform and march.

He also served as a Bradford volunteer firefighter for years, from 1948 to 1988.