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.
National Remembrance Day Ceremony
Each year on November 11, the Royal Canadian Legion hosts the National Remembrance Day Ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa to commemorate the men and women who have served in Canada’s military. The ceremony starts at approximately 10:30 a.m. with 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 at the base of the National War Memorial. 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 Royal Canadian Legion’s Facebook page.
Virtual Poppy Drop and Virtual Wall of Honour
The Royal Canadian Legion presents annual Poppy Drop on iconic landmarks in Ottawa from October 28 to November 11, 2023. Each evening from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (until midnight on Nov. 11), thousands of falling virtual poppies will be projected onto Parliament’s Peace Tower and nearby Senate of Canada building—one poppy for each of Canada’s fallen veterans. On Remembrance Day, a Virtual Wall of Honour displays photographs of late veterans on large screens near the National War Memorial.
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. Inside, the Memorial Hall closes on the morning of November 11 to allow for the livestreaming of the sun illuminating the headstone of Canada’s unknown soldier at 11 a.m.
In person visits for Remembrance programming and the rest of the museum require timed admission tickets, including on November 11 when admission is free (tickets are released November 8). Virtual options include exhibition content, videos and live presentations.
Discover how the message of remembering is conveyed via artifacts, human experiences, and even the architecture of the Canadian War Museum by walking down the museum's Remembrance Path. This self-guided tour will take about 45 minutes and will take you through several galleries in the Museum.
Just east of downtown Ottawa, an annual ceremony of Remembrance takes place at the National Military Cemetery from 10:45 a.m. on November 11; it will also be livestreamed online. The Annual Remembrance Day Service on the grounds of the Beechwood Cemetery honours all those who have fallen in the service of Canada and all Canadian Forces members interred at the cemetery. A children’s choir will perform.
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 printed or digital pamphlet. Or join the free guided historical tour called “The Beechwood Stroll” on the fourth Sunday of each month between April and October. 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.
Programming at the National Arts Centre
Learn how to make a single-needle flat beaded poppy for Indigenous Veterans Day and Remembrance Day in a self-paced online workshop. Suitable for beginner beaders and experienced beaders alike, ages 16 and up. Basic sewing experience recommended.