Remembrance Day throughout Canada

News Article / November 26, 2014 / Project number: RCAF-20141126-01

By Ruthanne Urquhart

In Canada and in many nations around the world, Remembrance Day is November 11 every year, marking the date of the signing of the Armistice ending the First World War in Western Europe.

The battlefields of the First World War were the proving ground for the Canadian military. Until then, Canadian troops had always fought under British command in British units.

In August 1914, however, the first Canadian Expeditionary Force was raised. For the first time, Canadian troops fought as a unit under a Canadian-born commander.

Those troops forged Canada’s fighting reputation on the Somme, at Vimy, at Passchendaele and in other battles. When the guns fell silent four years later, of the 620,000 Canadians who had left our shores in that expeditionary force, 67,000 had been killed and 250,000 wounded.

When Canadians gather to mark Remembrance Day, they often do so at cenotaphs that were erected after the First World War.

At the beginning of the First World War, Canada’s population stood at about 7,800,000; 317,000 killed or wounded was an unthinkable number. If that same percentage of the Canadian Armed Forces were to die or be wounded in battle today, we would be facing the deaths or woundings of 1,421,000 Canadians.

That Remembrance Day today harks back to The Great War is no surprise. It was “the war to end all wars”, a description which for many was a promise. But not for all.

 And so, on November 11, 2014, at wings and bases across the country, Canadians gathered once again at cenotaphs, Legion halls, schools, cemeteries and parks to honour and give thanks for the men and women who have laid down their lives in the defence of Canada.

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