Why We Remember
Each year the City of Toronto holds several Remembrance Day services to remember, pay due respect, and acknowledge the courage and sacrifice, made by those men and women who have served and currently serve our country.
Each element of the day’s program is symbolic and pays tribute to the courage, service and sacrifice of those who have served and continue to serve during times of war, conflict and peace.
Learn more about Toronto Remembers and the program’s significance by viewing the Remembrance Day Program Elements below.
The Vigil Sentries stand guard at the four corners of the cenotaph or memorial with heads bowed and rifles reversed. The Sentries take post prior to the commencement of the commemorative service. They remain in position until dismissed which is after the colour guards (who carry the flags) are marched off. The Vigil Sentries usually represent the Canadian Forces: the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. The fourth sentry may be filled by sea, army and air cadets.
The Last Post is played by a bugler. It was used during the war to mark the end of the day when duty officers were back in their quarters from fighting. It was also used to notify soldiers still on the battlefield who were wounded or separated from the group, that fighting was done for the day. Today, In a commemorative service, the playing of The Last Post symbolizes the soldiers’ final call and the hope that they rest in peace. http://www.cmp-cpm.forces.gc.ca/dhh-dhp/pub/oth-aut/rd-js/rd-js-eng.asp
The Lament titled, “The Lament to the Fallen,” is played by a piper to honour fallen soldiers. The tune, “Flowers of the Forest,” an ancient Scottish folk tune commemorating the defeat of the Battle of Flodden in 1513, is also sometimes played.
The Two Minutes of Silence is the central element of Remembrance Day; a time for Torontonians to pause and remember the service and sacrifice made by those men and women who protect our freedom and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
The two minutes of silence originated in Cape Town, South Africa, where there was a daily moment of silence, known as the Two Minute Pause, initiated by a daily firing of the noon day gun on Signal Hill. This action was instituted by the Cape Town Mayor, Sir Harry Hands, on May 14, 1918. One minute was a time of thanksgiving for those who had returned alive, the second minute was to remember the fallen. http://www.salegion.co.za/two-minutes-silence.html
In Ontario, the Remembrance Day Observance Act, 2007 (Bill204), through voluntary observance and through our collective desire to remember, asks the people of Ontario to pause and observe two minutes of silence in honour of those who died serving their country in wars and in peacekeeping efforts.
The flypast is a type of aerial salute that serves to pay respect to the fallen. Canadian Harvard planes are flown in the missing man formation in memory of a fallen pilot.
The clock tower bells ring at 11 a.m. to mark the end of the First World War World War and the ceasefire that went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. It is now known as Remembrance Day.
The Remembrance Day Parade is a ceremonial parade and an important tradition of the Old City Hall Service. The parade begins at City Hall, by the podium ramp, and marches to Old City Hall.
Members of City of Toronto Honour Guards and Colour Guards, the Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans, Legions and the Cadet Corps march in formation while being led by a Marching Band.
Military and/or uniformed parades involve the formation of marchers whose movements are restricted by close-order manoeuvring known as drilling or marching. The military parade is now almost entirely ceremonial, originating from times when soldiers fought in strict close-order formation that maximized their combat effectiveness and required strict discipline within the ranks of the competent officers.
Today, the ceremonial parade at the Remembrance Day Service follows the march formation of the military parade. Symbolically, it represents the Repatriation Ceremony, a march of the fallen to the cenotaph to pay respect to those who made the ultimate sacrifice as well as recognize all those who served our country. We shall remember them.
Old City Hall Parade Order
- Toronto Civic Honour Guard
- Toronto Police Service Ceremonial Unit
- Toronto Fire Services War Veterans Colour Guard
- Toronto Fire Services Honour Guard
- Toronto Paramedic Services Honour Guard
- Toronto Transit Commission Honour Guard
- Bylaw Enforcement Honour Guard
- Members of the Canadian Armed Forces
- Other Police Forces
- Veterans Organizations
- Legion Members
- Members of the Cadet Corps (Sea, Army, Air)
*Parade order is based on historical practice and order of precedence and is supported by the Remembrance Day Planning Committee which includes stakeholders from each of the marching groups.
*All marchers dress in regiment or organization uniforms.
Wearing of medals is encouraged, for further information please visit: http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/medals-decorations/wearing-medals or http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/medals-decorations
Interested in Marching?
Please contact Rudy Jaegar, Parade Marshall, Toronto Civic Honour Guard to:
- Identify the regiment you are affiliated with, and
- Provide details regarding your uniform
The Rouse is played by a bugler. It was the first call sounded in the morning and used as a wake-up call for the soldiers. During the ceremony, it is played to signify the resurrection of the spirit of the fallen.
The Act of Remembrance is the fourth stanza from the poem “For the Fallen” written by Laurence Binyon in 1914.
Act of Remembrance
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn [sic].
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning.
We will remember them.
Response: We will remember them.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Commitment to Remember
They were young, as we are young, They served, giving freely of themselves. To them, we pledge, amid the winds of time, To carry their torch and never forget. We will remember them.
Response: We will remember them.
Wreaths are laid in honour of fallen soldiers. If you would like to see if your wreath can be included in the wreath order during the service, please contact the service lead in advance.
* Due to space limitations, we are not accepting any new wreaths at the Old City Hall and East York services. Please note anyone can lay a wreath at the end of service.
The red poppy has become a familiar symbol of Remembrance Day due in part to the poem “In Flanders Fields.” The poppy was officially adopted by the Great War Veterans Association in 1921: http://www.legion.ca/honour-remember/the-poppy-campaign/the-history/
It has become a tradition at many of the Remembrance Day Services to remove poppies at the end of the service and place them at the base of the cenotaph. For poppy wearing protocol, click on: Poppy Manual and scroll down to page 38.