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
Virtual Poppy Drop on Parliament Hill
The Royal Canadian Legion is presenting its annual virtual Poppy Drop on Parliament Hill from October 25 to November 11, 2019. Each evening from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (until midnight on Nov. 11), 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.
Programming at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum
The Canada Aviation and Space Museum presents special Remembrance programming from November 2 to 11, 2019 (select dates). Attend a special military band concert, get a close-up look at rare authentic items, and take part in hands-on activities and tours perfect for kids.
Remembrance week at the Bytown Museum
From Nov. 7 to 11, 2019, you can help decorate a wreath of remembrance by writing a postcard to a veteran and drawing a poppy. The Bytown Museum features Veterans Affairs Canada’s Postcards for Peace program to commemorate those who have served and honour those who continue to bravely serve our country.
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.
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.
Kipnes Lantern display
As a complement to the virtual Poppy Drop display mentioned above, the National Arts Centre’s Kipnes Lantern will also display cascading poppies.
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.
Share your special Remembrance Day moments in Ottawa with #RemembranceDay and #MyOttawa.