Tens of thousands of Canadians attended this year's Rememberance service in Ottawa at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

Tens of thousands of Canadians attended this year's Rememberance service in Ottawa at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
Photo Credit: CBC

Remembrance Day Canada- origins

Share

November 11th, is the national day of remembrance in Canada. It’s a time to honour and reflect on all those Canadians who served in war and conflicts, and made the ultimate sacrifice.

It began a year after the end of the First World War. Sir Percy FitzPatrick, a South African born author who had lost his son in the war had suggested the pause in daily activities and a moment of silence in a letter to King George V.

Sir Percy had been greatly impressed by what he had seen in Cape Town. There, a daily silence began to be observed starting in May 1918 during the firing of the daily noon gun in which a minute of silence was observed to remember the fallen, followed by a second minute of silence to think of their families.

The entire city came to a standstill at the sound of the gun, and the strains of the “Last Post” played by a piper on the top of a major building in the city centre. The piper would then play “Reveille” to mark the end of the silence.

Completed in 1939, the memorial shows 22 uniformed men and women representing all 11 branches of the Canadian Armed Forces engaged in the First World War, positioned pressing forward to symbolize their response to the call of duty. The work of British artist Vernon March was
Completed in 1939, the memorial shows 22 uniformed men and women representing all 11 branches of the Canadian Armed Forces engaged in the First World War, positioned pressing forward through the granite arch to symbolize their response to the call of duty. The work of British artist Vernon March was “to perpetuate in this bronze group the people of Canada who went overseas to the Great War, to represent them, as we of today saw them, as a record for future generations” There was to be no suggestion of glorifying war. © Veterans Affairs Canada

The King thought this was a worthy cause and sent a letter to the Governors-General in all countries in the Empire, who in turn passed it to their respective governments.

On November 6 1919,  Sir George Foster, who was Canada’s acting Prime Minister at the time, rose in the House of Commons in Ottawa to read the message from the King. The following day the proclamation was published in most newspapers.

“ To all my people: Tuesday next, 11 November, is the first anniversary of the armistice, which stayed the worldwide carnage of the four preceding years and the victory of Right and Freedom. I believe that my people in every part of the Empire fervently wish to perpetuate the meaning of the Great Deliverance, and of those who laid down their lives to achieve it.

To afford an opportunity for the universal expression of their feeling, it is my desire and hope that at the hour when the Armistice comes into force, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, there may be for a brief space of two minutes, a complete suspension of all our normal activities. During that time, except in the rare cases where this may be impracticable, all work, all sound, all locomotion should cease, so that in perfect stillness the thoughts of every one may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.”

No elaborate organization appears to be necessary. At a given signal, which can be easily arranged to suit the circumstances of each locality, I believe that we shall all gladly interrupt our business and pleasure whatever it may be and unite in this simple service of silence and remembrance.”

Royal Canadian Legion's Silver Cross mother Sheila Anderson from Yellowknife, places a wreath during the Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. The Silver Cross Mother lays a wreath on behalf of all mothers who have lost a child in military service. Cpl. Jordan Anderson was killed, along with five other soldiers, by a roadside bomb outside Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 4, 2007, just a few weeks shy of his 26th birthday.
The Royal Canadian Legion’s Silver Cross mother Sheila Anderson from Yellowknife, places a wreath during the Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. The Silver Cross Mother lays a wreath on behalf of all mothers who have lost a child in military service. Cpl. Jordan Anderson was killed, along with five other soldiers, by a roadside bomb outside Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 4, 2007, just a few weeks shy of his 26th birthday. © Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

King George’s letter was accompanied by further instructions from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, outlining how to implement the moment of silence.

“This will be published in the Press here tomorrow morning. Arrangements are being made for the general observance of the two minutes silence at eleven o’clock next Tuesday. Trains will be stopped on the railways, traffic on the streets, ships as far as possible at sea, and every effort will be made to get work suspended everywhere, in schools, shops, mines, and factories and to ensure complete silence.”

Grade 12 students Kathleen Pick and Aman Srivastava of John McCrae Secondary School in Barhaven, Ont. They will be among 100,000 students reciting the poem In Flanders Fields on Remembrance Day as part of an initiative by the Vimy Foundation. It is the centennial of the poem,
Grade 12 students Kathleen Pick and Aman Srivastava of John McCrae Secondary School in Barhaven, Ont. They will be among 100,000 students reciting the poem In Flanders Fields on Remembrance Day as part of an initiative by the Vimy Foundation. It is the centennial of the poem, “In Flanders Fields”, which was written by Lt.-Col. John McCrae in 1915 during the First World War. In the background, the Centre Block of Canada’s Parliament with the Victory and Peace Tower. © Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

Prime Minister Foster then said that the King’s wishes will be observed throughout Canada and the first Armistice day of remembrance occurred in Canada, as elsewhere in the Empire, on November 11th 1919.

In 1921, the day was declared a legal holiday called Armistice Day.  For the first few years, the day was combined with Thanksgiving and held on the Monday of the week closest to November 11th.  However, lobbying efforts by veterans groups wanted the ceremonies held on the actual day. Ten years later in 1931, the name was changed to Remembrance Day and fixed to be held on November 11th.

For several decades later, all activity did stop throughout Canada wherever people were, although perhaps sadly that is no longer the case. Although still a holiday for people working in federal jobs, (the time off given to enable attendance at ceremonies), for most people regular activities and commerce continues.  Nonetheless, attendance at Remembrance Ceremonies across Canada seems to be increasing in recent years.

Share
Categories: Society
Tags: , , , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*