Remembrance Day in Canada
Remembrance Day commemorates Canadians who died in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War. In Canada, Remembrance Day is a public holiday and federal statutory holiday, as well as a statutory holiday in all three territories and in six of the ten provinces (Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec being the exceptions).
The first Remembrance Day was conducted in 1919 throughout the Commonwealth. The other common name for this day is Armistice Day which marks the date and time when armies stopped fighting on November 11th at 11am in 1918 (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month) marks the end of the first world war in the UK - this date and time was made into Remembrence Day in commonwealth countries.
From 1923 to 1931, Armistice Day was held on the Monday of the week in which November 11 fell. Thanksgiving was also celebrated on this day. In 1931, M.P. Allan Neill introduced a bill to hold Armistice Day on a fixed day - November 11. During the bill's introduction, it was decided the word "Remembrance" would be used instead of "Armistice". The bill passed and Remembrance Day was conducted on November 11, 1931. Thanksgiving Day was moved to October 12 that year.
The official national ceremonies are held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, presided over by the Governor General of Canada, any members of the Royal Family (such as Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, in 2009), the prime minister, and other dignitaries, observed by the public. Typically, these events begin with the tolling of the Carillon in the Peace Tower, during which current members of the Canadian Forces (CF) arrive at Confederation Square, followed by the Ottawa diplomatic corps, ministers of the Crown, special guests, the Royal Canadian Legion (RCL), the royal party (if present), and the viceregal party. Before the start of the ceremony, four armed sentries and three sentinels (two flag sentinels and one nursing sister) are posted at the foot of the cenotaph.
The arrival of the governor general is announced by a trumpeter sounding the "Alert", whereupon the viceroy is met by the Dominion President of the RCL and escorted to a dais to receive the Viceregal Salute, after which the national anthem, "O Canada", is played. The moment of remembrance begins with the bugling of "Last Post" immediately before 11:00 am, at which time the gun salute fires and the bells of the Peace Tower toll the hour. Another gun salute signals the end of the two minutes of silence, and cues the playing of a lament, the bugling of "The Rouse," and the reading of the Act of Remembrance. A flypast of Royal Canadian Air Force craft then occurs at the start of a 21-gun salute, upon the completion of which a choir sings "In Flanders Fields". The various parties then lay their wreaths at the base of the memorial; one wreath is set by the Silver Cross Mother, a recent recipient of the Memorial Cross, on behalf of all mothers whose children died in conflicts in which Canada participated. The viceregal and/or royal group return to the dais to receive the playing of the Royal Anthem of Canada, "God Save the Queen", prior to the assembled Armed Forces personnel and veterans performing a march past in front of the viceroy, bringing about the end of the official ceremonies. A tradition of paying more personal tribute has emerged since erection of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the War Memorial in 2000: after the official ceremony the general public place their poppies atop the tomb.
Similar ceremonies take place in provincial capitals across the country, officiated by the relevant lieutenant governor, as well as in other cities, towns, and even hotels or corporate headquarters. Schools will usually hold special assemblies for the first half of the day, or on the school day prior, with various presentations concerning the remembrance of the war dead. The largest indoor ceremony in Canada is usually held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with over 9,000 gathering in Credit Union Centre in 2010; the ceremony participants include old guard (veterans), new guard (current members of the CF), and sea, army, and air cadet units.