November 11, 2022 By Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Thousands of people wearing poppies have turned out at Remembrance Day ceremonies across the country to pay their respects to those who died in service to Canada.
Dozens of veterans and active Armed Forces members marched through the streets of Ottawa to drums and pipes amid unseasonably warm temperatures before taking up positions in front of the National War Memorial, where the national ceremony is being held.
Gov. Gen. Mary Simon has also arrived, wearing a Canadian Army uniform as Canada’s commander-in-chief. Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay, who is representing the government, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, are also present.
Trudeau is absent from this year’s ceremony as he flies to an international summit in Cambodia. The prime minister briefly greeted about a dozen Armed Forces members at a refuelling stop at the Anchorage airport in Alaska during his flight to Cambodia. Trudeau shook their hands, speaking briefly with each, and posed for a photo with the group.
Candy Greff, this year’s Silver Cross Mother, has also arrived. Greff’s son Byron was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2011, the last of 158 Canadian soldiers who died during the war.
Greff will lay a wreath at the National War Memorial on behalf of all mothers who have lost children in service to Canada.
A heavy security presence was evident in downtown Ottawa, with snowplows parked at different intersections and police out in force.
Hundreds of people have also gathered in front of Halifax City Hall on a warm and sunny day to honour Canada’s war dead.
Formations from the Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force stood at attention in front of the cenotaph as the ceremony began with the mournful sounds of the Last Post.
Hundreds of people came to the provincial cenotaph in Fredericton, N.B., as gun salutes boomed at 11 a.m. to mark the day.
Babies in strollers, dogs on leashes and children holding parents’ hands watched the solemn ceremony under partly sunny skies. A few children giggled and held their parents’ hands tighter when the first gun salute went off.
Outside the cenotaph at Old City Hall in Toronto, the clock tower chimed 10 ahead of the city’s Remembrance Day service.
Alistair Stark, 73, was one of the veterans standing in uniform for the city’s ceremony.
“My father’s a war veteran,” Stark said before the ceremony. “I’m not long back from Italy where I was laying a wreath in remembrance of my uncle, who was killed in Italy.”
Stark served in the military reserves for 16 years as part of the 48th Highlanders. His father was born in Scotland and served with the 11th Hussars in the English Regiment.
“(My father) landed at D-Day, I’m very proud of him” said Stark. “My uncle served in Italy for the Black Watch (of the Royal Highland Regiment) and he was killed just outside Monte Cassino. And that’s why I was over there laying a wreath in his memory.”
In Montreal, honour guards from the army, navy, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the city’s police and fire services formed up at Place du Canada square.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante and the federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller were among the dignitaries present at the Montreal ceremony.
“We’re here to pay homage to our fallen and missing comrades, and there are a lot of them,” said retired Lt.-Col. Henry Hall.
While he was serving as part of a United Nations mission in the Middle East in 1974, nine Canadian Forces members were killed when their plane was shot down.
“It was a tough go,” Hall said of the mission. “It was very difficult, one of the guys was a good friend of ours and I obviously miss him and I think about him all the time.”
He said he’s also thinking about his two grandfathers, who served in the army in the First World War, and his father, who was in the navy in Second World War.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2022.
With files from Dylan Robertson in Anchorage, Hina Alam in Fredericton, Keith Doucette in Halifax, Jacob Serebrin in Montreal, Tyler Griffith and Jessica Smith in Toronto.