Midwestern Ontario Remembers (GALLERY & VIDEO)
A large number of people turned out at Remembrance Day Services at Cenotaph’s in midwestern Ontario.
The Port Elgin cenotaph was packed as hundreds turned out to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
The effects of time were evident, as only about a dozen surviving veterans of World War II were on hand for the Remembrance Day ceremony.
Dean Bousquet, 90, served as a gunner in the navy from 1943 until 1946 and says he has not missed a Remembrance Day ceremony in the nearly 70 years since, though he choked back tears when asked about his service during World War II.
He credits the Royal Canadian Legion for keep the memories alive of those who served during the wars.
“I think the young people are getting more interested with the programs the Legion are doing and giving them the history of the war. I think they remember and honour the veterans,” says Bousquet.
Doug Claggett is a retired 34-year veteran of the Canadian Forces, who served in tours of Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, and says he will be paying tribute in particular to three friends that he served with who did not come home.
Claggett adds he’s also paying tribute to those he fought against, pointing out even though they were on the opposite side of the battle, they were also soldiers and should be remembered
About 1,000 people gathered at the cenotaph in downtown Owen Sound for the Remembrance Day ceremony.
Lieutenant Colonel Shane McArthur, the commanding officer of the Grey and Simcoe Foresters, says it’s wonderful to see such a huge crowd remembering those who made the supreme sacrifice.
“Literally tens of thousands of people who have made the ultimate sacrifice or sacrificed some part of their life to serving their nation to have the freedoms that we have today and obviously today is so important to pay homage to that,” he says.
The Owen Sound Remembrance Day service is put on every year by Branch 6 of the Royal Canadian Legion.
A large crowd has also gathered on the square in Goderich as fair weather greeted participants in the ceremony there. The service was led by Archdeacon Allan Livingstone, the Legion Chaplan.
The past president of Branch 109 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Goderich, Paul Thorne, believes Canadians are more conscious of the sacrifices made by members of the Armed Forces as a result of the events of the past year or two, which tends to make each Remembrance Day more significant.
The largest crowd in memory turned out to the Mount Forest Cenotaph for a sunny Remembrance Ceremony.
Master of Ceremonies Bill Nelson says he was pleased with the community participation.
“What really topped the weather was the great participation from the public at large, and particularly from the local schools, Wellington Heights High School and St. Mary’s Separate School and the Victoria Cross Public School,” he says. “It’s very, very rewarding.”
There was also a large contingent from CFB Borden and the Grey and Simcoe Foresters.
Meanwhile, a somber hush fell over the Town of Wingham on Wednesday morning as hundreds gathered around the cenotaph to remember those who have served and continue to serve our country in the name of freedom.
For many in attendance, Remembrance has it’s own special meaning, something very personal.
That rings true for Terry Walker, who indeed has his own reason for being there.
“I had a grandfather and an uncle who was in the war and you know, for years their families didn’t see them, so quite a sacrifice they all made. I’m glad I can be here to honour them,” says Walker.
For others, the reasons for attending are different.
“For me, it’s about my grandson being able to grow and live in a free country. He’s seven years old, and he knows what it’s all about,” says one woman, who asked not to be identified.
Jim Saint, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 180 in Wingham, was very impressed at the turnout and how smoothly the service went.
“I’m amazed with the amount of turnout that we had, we had a good turnout last year but not nearly as good as this year,” notes Saint.
He says the Poppy Campaign was also good this year and expects to have a final figure within the next couple of weeks. More importantly, Saint says the significance of Remembrance Day has grown among the population.
“There’s more respect than I’ve ever seen in this town of Wingham,” adds Saint.
So on this, the 11th day of the 11th month, at the 11th hour, under a blue sky and sunshine amid the singing of the birds, the community both young and old bowed their heads in silence. A silence that spoke louder than words. A silence that said, “Lest We Forget.”
With files from Kirk Scott, Bob Montgomery, Campbell Cork, Jordan MacKinnon and Craig Power.
Video by Kirk Scott