Lest we forget… The period around Remembrance Day (November 11) each year is a time to reflect on the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers. Veterans of all ages, as well as residents and visitors, gather in Canada’s capital region for special events and ceremonies. Here is some of the Remembrance programming taking place in the Ottawa area leading up to November 11, and on the day itself.
LEADING UP TO NOVEMBER 11
The World Remembers
The World Remembers project commemorates the centenary of World War I and the millions of soldiers who lost their lives. The names of soldiers killed in 1918 (as well as the following few years) from all participating countries are displayed in different locations around the world – including Ottawa. Between September 12 and November 11, 2018, the names are projected for 11.5 hours a day onto the Government Conference Centre, as well as during regular museum hours at the Canadian War Museum. The Search The Names function on The World Remembers website allows you to find out when a 2018 name will appear at a precise day, hour and minute.
Virtual Poppy Drop on Parliament Hill
The Royal Canadian Legion is presenting a virtual Poppy Drop on Parliament Hill again this year. Each evening from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. from October 26 to November 11, 2018, 117,000 falling poppies will be projected onto the iconic Peace Tower and Centre Block. There is one poppy for each of Canada’s fallen. “The Last Post” will be played on the Peace Tower bells by Dominion Carillonneur Dr. Andrea McCrady before the first Poppy falls on the first night.
Remembrance Week at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum
The Canada Aviation and Space Museum presents special Remembrance Week programming from November 3 to 11, 2018. Don’t miss a military band concert, feature display of authentic items, hands-on activities and tours for kids. And if you can’t make it to the National Remembrance Day Ceremony in downtown Ottawa on November 11, the museum is offering a public viewing of the live broadcast of on a big screen amongst the aircraft collection.
The Edge of Peace
From November 4 to 11, 2018, Veterans Affairs Canada presents The Edge of Peace, a new multimedia production in Confederation Park. From dusk to 10:30 p.m., this unique presentation will illuminate a “moon garden” commemorating Canada’s Hundred Days and the Armistice of the First World War, while honouring all who have served.
Kipnes Lantern display
As a complement to The World Remembers display mentioned above, the National Arts Centre’s Kipnes Lantern will also shine with symbols of remembrance. From 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. between November 5 and November 11, the Lantern will display images of the men and women of the First World War. And from 7:00 a.m. to midnight on November 11th, the lantern will display cascading poppies to accompany the Virtual Poppy Drop on Parliament Hill.
ON NOVEMBER 11
National Remembrance Day Ceremony
Every year, the Royal Canadian Legion organizes the National Remembrance Day Ceremony at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa which runs from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
From 9:00 to 10:00 a.m., the Virtual Wall of Honour and Remembrance displays thousands of photographs of late veterans on large screens. At 10:30 a.m., a Veterans Parade departs from near Parliament Hill and makes its way to the National War Memorial, followed by the arrival of dignitaries such as the Prime Minister, the Governor General of Canada, and the Silver Cross Mother – a woman whose child has died while serving in the military. Additional programming includes the national anthem, two minutes of silence, a wreath-laying ceremony and a rousing fly-past (weather permitting). At the end of the National Ceremony and throughout the day, people remove poppies from their coats and place them on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The tomb is covered in red poppies by the end of the day.
Thousands of people gather, rain or shine, to pay their respects to veterans during this very moving event. Crowds can hear the proceedings over loud speakers and have the option to watch a live feed on the jumbo screens. The event is also broadcast nationally on television and the Legion’s facebook page.
Free Remembrance Day concert
At 12:30 p.m. on November 11, the National Arts Centre (NAC) is presenting a special free concert commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. NAC Music Director Alexander Shelley will conduct the German Youth Orchestra (Bundesjugendorchester, BJO) in the world premiere of The World Remembers, a song cycle by Canadian composers. Members of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Ottawa’s own OrKidstra, as well as local choirs will also perform. The free, 75-minute concert takes place in Southam Hall. No tickets are required, and seating is general admission.
Remembrance Day Programming at the Canadian War Museum
The Canadian War Museum, situated just west of downtown, is a living memorial to Canada’s proud military history. On November 11, Memorial Hall, located inside the Museum’s main entrance, becomes the centerpiece. On that day at exactly 11:00 a.m. a beam of sunlight shines through a single window into Memorial Hall to perfectly frame the headstone from the grave of Canada’s Unknown Soldier. To observe the beam of light at 11:00 a.m. from within Memorial Hall, tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis as of 9:30 a.m. Other special events and interactive activities, such as Build Your own Monument (using clay), are also held on November 11.
Museum admission is free on Remembrance Day. For details, visit the Canadian War Museum’s Remembrance Day webpage.
Just east of downtown Ottawa, a ceremony of Remembrance takes place at the National Military Cemetery from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on the grounds of Beechwood Cemetery. The ceremony honours all those who have fallen in the service of Canada and all Canadian Forces members interred at the cemetery. There is also a marching contingent including veterans, a band and a children’s choir performance.
You can also join free guided historical tours called “The Beechwood Stroll” on the fourth Sunday of each month at 1:00 p.m. See the Beechwood Cemetery’s event calendar for details.
Statue of Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae
Located next to the National Artillery Memorial, just east of Parliament Hill, the Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae Statue honours the man behind the famous WWI poem In Flanders Fields. The sculpture done by Ruth Abernethy portrays McCrae on a broken tree branch, looking up just after he signs his name on what would become a very famous poem. The statue marks the hundredth anniversary of McCrae’s verses.
McCrae wrote the timeless lines to comfort himself after the burial of his close friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, a member of the Hull-based (now Gatineau, Québec) Zion Presbyterian Church who died at the Second Battle of Ypres on May 2, 1915. He was just 22-years-old.
There is also a program called Operation Veteran, which ensures that veterans eat for free at the Canadian War Museum every day the Museum is open. Every year, the program also invites students from across Canada to attend the Remembrance Day wreath-laying ceremony at the National War Memorial and a special tour of the War Museum, where students have the opportunity to talk to veterans.
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