Observing Remembrance Day in Ottawa

Remembrance Day in the Capital City

Lest We Forget is a phrase we often hear on Remembrance Day. We say it so that we won’t lose sight of the sacrifices of those who came before us, who gave their lives so that we could live in freedom. On Nov. 11, we remember their selflessness by stopping to reflect on the past, in order to help ensure our future.

If you’re looking for ways to mark the occasion, here are 6 ideas for observing Remembrance Day

Before Nov. 11

Virtual Poppy Drop: From 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. every evening until Nov. 11, the Royal Canadian Legion presents a virtual Poppy Drop on Parliament Hill, where 117,000 falling poppies will be projected onto the Peace Tower and Centre Block, representing Canada’s fallen.

Aviation and Space Museum: The museum presents special Remembrance programming from Nov. 2 to 11. 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.

On Nov. 11

Downtown: Of course, the BIG event is the National Remembrance Day Ceremony at the National War Memorial. If you’ve never been, it’s worth the effort to join in with the thousands of others who will attend. At 10:30 a.m., a Veterans Parade departs from near Parliament Hill and makes its way to the War Memorial, followed by the arrival of dignitaries such as the Prime Minister, the Governor General, 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 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.

War Museum: The Canadian War Museum is a living memorial to Canada’s military history. A key piece of the building’s design becomes the centrepiece on Nov. 11: At exactly 11 a.m., weather permitting, a beam of sunlight will shine through a single window into the museum’s Memorial Hall to perfectly frame the headstone from the grave of Canada’s Unknown Soldier. To observe the beam of light 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 a poppy making activity for kids, are also held on Nov. 11. Museum admission is free on Remembrance Day. 

Beechwood Cemetery: Part of Beechwood Cemetery is also the National Military Cemetery. From 10:30 a.m. to noon, a ceremony of Remembrance will take place to honour 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. 

Local observances: Several communities around the region hold their own, more intimate Remembrance Day services. Check with your community association, local paper (if you have one), legion branch, or church for details.

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