On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare, marking the end of the First World War.
We still mark the date and time of that momentous day, holding special Cenotaph and church services and observing two minutes of silence at 11 a.m.
That’s what Remembrance Day is all about – a day set aside to honour and remember all the Canadians who have given their lives in the two World Wars and subsequent armed conflicts.
Things You May Not Know About Remembrance Day
- Remembrance Day was originally called Armistice Day to commemorate the end of the First World War. The first Remembrance Day was conducted in 1919 throughout the Commonwealth.
- Holding Remembrance Day on the fixed date of November 11th each year didn’t happen until 1931. Before 1931, Armistice Day was held on the Monday of the week in which November 11 fell. 1931 is also the year that “Armistice Day” officially became “Remembrance Day”.
- Canada’s official national ceremonies are held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario, each year.
- In May 2000, the remains of a Canadian soldier who died in France in World War I, but who has never been identified, were laid in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial. Since then, people have laid poppies, letters and photographs on the tomb.
- The Royal Canadian Legion sells artificial poppies each year to raise money for Canadian veterans. Red poppies symbolize the memory of those who died while white poppies represent campaigns for non-military interventions in conflict situations.
- Why poppies? You may already be aware of the poem “In Flanders Fields” written by John McCrae, a Canadian doctor serving in the military. It opens:
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row…”
Poppies grow very well in ground that has been disturbed.
- Hundreds of commemorative ceremonies and events are held across Canada to commemorate Veterans’ Week. The Veterans Affairs Canada website has in-depth information on the history relevant to Remembrance Day and events that take place across the country listings as well as we honour our veterans and the sacrifices they have made.