The Legion: Rankin vs. Iqaluit


The Legion. Short for the Royal Canadian Legion, it is the place to be for party people in Rankin Inlet and Iqaluit. Housing the only two Legions in the territory gives these cities one more thing to compare, compete, and fight over. For those of you who don't know, the Legions of Nunavut are a little different than their southern counterparts: they function as the main/only bars and/or "clubs" in town. No matter the locale, there are a few constants at any Legion (often called simply "the Lege") that Iqalummiut and Rankinmiut alike know all too well:

  1. Only members may enter. Members can sign in up to three guests, provided the Legion hasn't switched into MEMBERS ONLY mode.
  2. There will be a line. Being the main/only bar in town means that you get to be pretty popular.
  3. Pictures are prohibited. I thought the Rankin Legion would be a bit more relaxed, but no; they only let me take photos when I told them I was "writing a piece," ahem.
  4. You cannot drink on the dance floor.
  5. It is the social equalizer. Going to the Legion is kind of like going to a wedding: everyone aged 19 to 90 who wants to drink, dance, and be merry has but one choice to get their groove on.

That being said, I noted some distinct disparities between the Legion in Rankin and the establishment I frequent in Iqaluit (I wouldn't call myself a regular; let's just say I no longer need to show my card). Here are 9 things that were notably different at the Rankin Legion.

1. You hang your own coat.

There is an open coat rack near the entrance to the Rankin Legion with help-yourself-hangers and a few forgotten jackets or sweaters. This is the first instance of Rankin's DIY Legion trend.

2. The Legion rules are posted on the walls.

I was literally shocked to see signage in and around the Rankin Legion. I learned all the rules of the Legion through word-of-mouth and admonishments from staff (I no longer try to sit on tables, people, speakers, or anything other than my own personal chair). Rankinmiut have it easier! Not only are the rules posted, but so are the punishments. For example, "Over intoxication/passing out/vomiting" will get you banned for 6 months after your first offence. This fine is doubled for your second offence; third offence, and you are banned for life.

3. There is a ticket system for drinks.

Instead of ordering at the bar, you buy tickets from the front register. Each ticket costs $6.00 and can be exchanged at the bar for a beer, mixed drink, or shot.

4. Mixed drinks are DIY.

To get a rum and Coke at the Legion in Rankin, hand the bartender your ticket. You will receive a cup with a shot of rum, and then you can fix the rest of the drink yourself using any of the mixes available on the counter (pop, juice, tonic, etc.).

5. There is no "quiet side" or dedicated dance floor.

The Iqaluit Legion is about twenty times bigger than its Kivalliq counterpart; this gives it space for divisions, namely the "quiet side" or Pat's Lounge, where people can sit and enjoy live music; the pool area, where people can play billiards, darts, and buy lottery tickets; and the dance floor. The Rankin Legion does separate quiet versus loud activities, only this divide is temporal, not spatial: before 22:30, the entire space is used for darts and sitting. Right at 22:30, the lights dim, the strobe light blinks, the darts are put away, and a dance party begins.

6. The DJ is an iPad.

In Iqaluit, we have a real, live DJ - and sometimes even guest DJs! Rankin's Legion night is a bit more intimate, as one of the bartenders tends an iPad full of the best Top 40 you heard two months ago.

7. They serve filtered water from a Brita jug.

Here is one place where the DIY trend shifts: in Iqaluit, we pour our own glasses of water from jugs left on the counter by Legion bar staff. In Rankin, the bartenders reach behind the counter into a glass-panelled fridge to pull out a Brita jug and fill your cup with freshly filtered water. What service!

8. The Rankin Legion is funny.

Fifty Shades of Chocolate?! Come on, that's hilarious. We do not use pop culture references to name drinks in Iqaluit. Bonus points for adding my suggested concoction to the board: the Spankin' Rankin Sour.

9. The Legion in Rankin closes at 23:45.

And last call is at 23:15. In contrast, the Iqaluit Legion serves liquor until 01:00 and staff don't start pushing you out until about 01:30. This means Iqaluit's partygoers get a whole two hours more of pop hits and kind of expensive canned beer. Now, this doesn't mean that Rankinmiut party any less than their "big city" counterparts; from what I noted, that one hour and 15 minutes after darts and before lights was an intense dance fest that rivalled any thigh-slapping, arm-waving, hip-shaking grind I've seen in Iqaluit. All that and I was home before midnight.

Have you been to the Legion in Rankin, Iqaluit, or both? Tell us what you think of this list in the comments or send us a tweet!