Lest we forget… The period around Remembrance Day (November 11) each year is a time to reflect on the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers. Usually, veterans of all ages, as well as residents and visitors, gather in Canada’s capital region for special events and ceremonies. In 2020—which notably marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War—commemorations have been modified due to COVID-19 and are being hosted virtually. Here are some of the events being hosted in Canada’s capital that you can attend virtually this year to pay your respects.
National Remembrance Day Ceremony
For the first time, the Royal Canadian Legion is asking the public to pay their respects virtually instead of in person for the 2020 National Remembrance Day Ceremony.
Each year on November 11, the moving ceremony is held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa to commemorate the men and women who have served in Canada’s military. This year, the event has been significantly modified to ensure health and safety. You can watch the more intimate ceremony and take part in the two minutes of silence via the Legion’s facebook page, and the event is usually broadcast nationally on television.
Virtual Poppy Drop and Virtual Wall of Honour
The Royal Canadian Legion is presenting its annual virtual Poppy Drop on iconic landmarks in Ottawa from October 30 to November 11, 2020. 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 Parliament’s Peace Tower and nearby Senate building—one poppy for each of Canada’s fallen. During the same period, a Virtual Wall of Honour displays thousands of photographs of late veterans on large screens on Parliament Hill.
As a complement to the virtual Poppy Drop display, the National Arts Centre’s Kipnes Lantern also presents cascading poppies on the evening of November 11.
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. The museum offers Remembrance Programming until Sunday, November 8 and from Wednesday, November 11 to Sunday, November 15. Tune into the Memorial Hall Livestream on Wednesday, November 11 to see the sun illuminating the headstone of Canada’s unknown soldier. On-site tours include Remembrance Tours, Memorial Hall Visitation, and special exhibitions. Be sure to reserve tickets in advance when planning an in-person visit.
Just east of downtown Ottawa, an annual ceremony of Remembrance takes place at the National Military Cemetery, the Beechwood Cemetery. You can watch the 2020 Virtual Annual Remembrance Day Service which honours all those who have fallen in the service of Canada and all Canadian Forces members interred at the cemetery.
You can also explore the cemetery’s historical and botanical aspects at any time. Take a self-guided tour any day of the year by following the paper or digital pamphlet. Or join the free guided historical tour called “The Beechwood Stroll” on the fourth Sunday of each month between early March and early November. See the Beechwood Cemetery’s event calendar for details.
Commemoration sites and monuments
You can reflect at any time of year by visiting some of the many Ottawa sites that honour Canada’s military. These include the Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae Statue (which honours the man behind the famous WWI poem In Flanders Fields), as well as monuments dedicated to the War of 1812, Indigenous soldiers, and even animals in war.
A special program called Operation Veteran 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.