The City of Toronto’s Remembrance Week November 5 – 11, 2020, commemorates those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, Peacekeeping missions and in Afghanistan. During this week, we also honour our veterans and those who have served and continue to serve our country in the Canadian Armed Forces. 2020 marks 75 years since the end of the Second World War. November 11, 2020 marks 100 years of Remembrance in Toronto. November 8 marks Indigenous Veterans Day.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no public gatherings on Remembrance Day in 2020. The City of Toronto commemorated Remembrance Day at Old City Hall with a physically distanced ceremony, where a small group laid wreaths on November 11 to honour the fallen.

At brief ceremonies that took place at Old City Hall and the Civic Centres on November 11, the City of Toronto placed wreaths on behalf of many veterans organizations, government, city agencies and community groups. View the list of wreaths that were laid.

Here are some of the commemorative activities planned for Remembrance Day:

  • Mayor John Tory has proclaimed Remembrance Week – November 5 to 11, 2020.
  • The City of Toronto sign and the City Hall Towers will be lit in red on November 11.
  • All Toronto Transit Commission vehicles will stop for two minutes on November 11 at 11 a.m. In addition, “Lest We Forget” window cards will be placed in TTC vehicles prior to Remembrance Day.
  • Commemorative posts will be available on the City of Toronto’s official Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts throughout Remembrance Week.
  • Virtual ceremonies will be made available via broadcast media and the City’s YouTube channel throughout the week.

Here is how you can commemorate Remembrance Day:

  • Wear a poppy.
  • Pause on November 11 at 11 am for two minutes of silence.
  • Visit our Veterans Memory page and listen to stories from some of our Second World War veterans.
  • Fly the Canadian flag.
  • Tell us your commitment to remember on social media using the hashtag #TorontoRemembers.
  • Show support for our veterans and commemorate Remembrance Day by using the City’s Poppies Facebook frame.
    Go to facebook.com/profilepicframes and search ‘City of Toronto Poppies’ to change your frame.
  • Explore Canada’s participation in the Second World War through The Toronto Archives’ the 75th anniversary of the Second World War web exhibit of historical images from that time.
  • Visit the World Wars section of the Toronto Archives’ Black History in Toronto page to learn about the Black Canadians’ participation in World Wars.
  • Visit the Fort York National Historical site, Canada’s largest collection of original War of 1812 buildings and 1813 battle site. It has artifacts online for viewing through the Toronto History Museums Artifact Collection as well as items tagged under “Remembrance Day” that include programmes of Remembrance Day service, proclamations, gold medal, Captain’s uniform jacket and more.

John Tory Mayor of Toronto - Proclamation

Remembrance Week

November 5 – 11, 2020

WHEREAS this year marks 100 years that we have commemorated Remembrance Day on November 11. During Remembrance Week, we take time to think of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and honour all Canadians who have fought and continue to fight for peace.

Each year, we pause on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, to remember those who paid the ultimate price to protect our freedoms. This year, Remembrance Day ceremonies will largely move to a virtual space as we are unable to gather in person to commemorate. It is important that we continue to remember and honour those who gave so much to our country.

2020 also marks 75 years since the end of the Second World War in Europe and the Pacific. More than one million Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in our Armed Forces during this war. It was a significant effort, involving those at home and those at the front where Canada paid a huge price, losing 45,000 Canadians. A further 55,000 returned home wounded.

In the Second World War, more than 3,400 men and women from our city gave their lives in service. Many more fought and returned injured. Toronto also made an important contribution in training and supporting those who put themselves in harm’s way.

The City of Toronto remembers and honours all Canadians who fought for the peace and freedom we enjoy today. On November 11th, I encourage all Torontonians to pause and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

NOW THEREFORE, I, Mayor John Tory, on behalf of Toronto City Council, do hereby proclaim November 5 – 11, 2020 as “Remembrance Week” in the City of Toronto.

100 years of Remembrance

November 11, 2020, marks 100 years of Remembrance in Toronto. This section takes a look back on Remembrance Day (formerly Armistice Day until 1931) in Toronto over the years.

On November 11, 1920, the City marked its first officially organized ceremony of commemoration.  A crowd of 10,000 Torontonians gathered that morning at Old City Hall. A temporary cenotaph was constructed in front of City Hall to symbolize the graves of the fallen who were buried overseas, at the request of the then Mayor, Thomas Langton Church.

Armistice Day in Toronto, 1920

Image of the first Armstice(Remembrance Day) ceremony at (Old) City Hall
The first ceremony at (Old) City Hall
Credit: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 978A

Floral wreaths and arrangements were laid at the base of the temporary cenotaph by families of the fallen soldiers and other organizations. It was the first year that floral wreaths paid tribute to the soldiers’ sacrifice.

Earlier that morning, before the official ceremony began, two grieving Toronto mothers were the first to independently lay wreaths at the temporary cenotaph.  Although this wreath-laying was not part of the official programme, this was the only grave they had for their sons.

The Salvation Army band played music until noon while wreaths were laid. The temporary cenotaph was guarded by four dragoons as well as colours of the Royal Canadian Regiment.

  • At the stroke of noon, the two minutes of silence was observed. Following this observance, buglers from the Royal Canadian Dragoons played the Last Post.
  • The band of the Royal Canadian Regiment played O Canada, as salutes were rendered and colours dipped.
  • The crowd, accompanied by the band, sang the hymn “O God Our Help in Ages Past”, and “Rock of Ages,” and recited the “Lord’s Prayer,” concluding with the hymn “Abide with Me”.

Remembrance Day has remained an official day to mark the fallen, for many in Toronto. Here are some photographs of the annual ceremony over the past century.

Photos from 1925 – Present


Commemorating 75 years After the Second World War

The City of Toronto commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Second World War in Coronation Park as part of Remembrance Week.  This video shows Canadian flags being planted around the Victory-Peace Monument by the Mayor, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Legion and Youth to memorialize the 3,452 Torontonians who fell during the War.

2020 marks 75 years since the end of the Second World War, a defining time for Canada and for Toronto.

Torontonians made a significant contribution to the war, on the battlefields of Europe, in the Pacific, the oceans of the Atlantic, and on the Homefront.  Toronto’s Golden Book of Remembrance lists the names of 3,452 service men and women that made the ultimate sacrifice in giving their lives in service to Canada. Thousands more served and survived, many with physical and emotional wounds they carried for the rest of their lives.

Each of the 3,452 names represents a life cut far too short, with a story to tell.  Here are a few from those in Toronto’s Golden Book of Remembrance, from Dieppe and D-Day, and women and minorities who served their country, few in number who made important contributions to victory. They are heroes, all of them. Here are 12 of their stories.


Shot Down in the Air: James Philip Scott

Image of James Philip Scott
James Philip Scott
Credit: Veterans Affairs Canada

Sergeant, No. 22 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force

Died:  April 6, 1941 at age 20

James Scott was a prominent athlete who played hockey, football and basketball and also rowed for the Argonauts Rowing Club.  He volunteered in the Royal Canadian Air Force, while still a student at the Northern Vocational School in Toronto.

He had two brothers, who were both in the service, one in the RCAF in England and the other in the Engineers Corps of Canadian Officers Training Corps. He also had a sister.

While serving in France, James was a navigator in a Beaufort bomber. His torpedo bomber was downed while on a “suicide attack” attacking enemy ships in the harbour at Brest, France.

Torpedo bombing required both skill and nerves of steel. The flight path of the crew had to skim across the water, facing point-blank fire from anti-aircraft guns. The torpedo they launched caused significant damage to the hull of the ship, before his aircraft crashed into the cruiser’s deck.

Back home, his mother received the cable that her son was missing in action. This news added to her grief as she recovered from the death of her father in Canada.

Sergeant Scott is listed in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial which includes media articles about his service. More information can also be found in these articles: Dropping ‘Fish’: Air Force, Part 44, and Database of Fallen Aviators, Royal Canadian Air Force Association.


Lost at Sea: Gregory Joseph Clancy

Image of the ship, the HMCS Esquimalt and its crew
HMCS Esquimalt and its Crew
Credit: For Posterity’s Sake/Garry Weir, CD, PO1, Radioman, Canadian Navy (ret’d)

Telegraphist, Royal Canadian Naval Reserve, serving on HMCS Esquimalt

Died: April 16, 1945, at age 20

George Clancy was assigned to HMCS Esquimalt. She and her sister ship, HMCS Sarnia, were tasked with protecting a convoy of ships steaming to Scotland. With the war close to ending and the day calm, smooth sailing was expected off Halifax Harbour.  While conducting its anti-submarine patrol, Esquimalt was torpedoed by a German U-Boat that ripped apart its hull.  The ship sunk so rapidly that there wasn’t time to launch distress signals or release all the lifeboats, so many crew members perished in the frigid Atlantic while awaiting rescue.  Of the 71 on board, only 27 survived. Sadly, George Clancy died at age 20.

Telegraphist Clancy was lost at sea and is commemorated on a Halifax Memorial, one of the few tangible reminders for the men who died at sea.

He was the son of Daniel J. and Mary E. Clancy of Woodside Ave. in Toronto.

George Clancy’s record is listed in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial. More information about HMCS Esquimalt is found through For Posterity’s Sake , a Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project, and the Nova Scotia Military History – Madigan Stories.


Black Canadian Killed in Action: Humphrey Holloway

Image of Humphrey Holloway
Private Humphrey Holloway
Credit: Kathy Grant, Black Canadian Veterans Stories of War

Private in the Highland Light Infantry of Canada

Died: September 19, 1944, age 21

Humphrey Holloway was born on September 29, 1922, in Toronto, Ontario and lived with his parents, Egbert and Edith Holloway, who immigranted to Canada from Barbados. Humphrey attended a Toronto Public School and also spent a year at a technical school. He then worked as a shipper and stock keeper in Toronto before enlisting.

At the time he enlisted in 1943, he lived with his family at
1224 Yonge Street.

Sadly, he died in battle at age 21 and is buried at the Calais Canadian War Cemetery in France.

Private Holloway is listed in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.


A Woman Missing in Action: Irene Watson

Image of Section Officer Irene Watson
Section Officer Irene Watson
Credit: Veterans Affairs Canada

Section Officer,116 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force (Women’s Division)

Died: November 8, 1943 at age 24

Irene was born in England and lived in New Toronto with her family for 19 years, attending New Toronto Public School and Mimico High School.  In addition to her parents, she had two sisters and two brothers. One of her siblings Sgt.-Maj. David Watson, was part of the Tank Corps.

Irene was a Globe and Mail correspondent and a stenographer-reporter for The New Toronto (South Etobicoke) Advertiser, Ontario’s largest weekly newspaper.

She enlisted in February 1942 and requested to work in an administrative role.

She was serving in Newfoundland as part of #116 Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron, when the Canso aircraft that she and 11 others were flying in attempted to land in bad weather and poor visibility.  Tragically, they crashed nose-first on a lake in Newfoundland.  Only five aboard survived.

Section Officer Watson was believed to one of the first airwomen in Canada to be reported missing and also killed in active service. Sadly, she was declared dead and her body was never recovered. Her name is inscribed on the Ottawa Memorial commemorating members of the Air Forces of the British Commonwealth who lost their lives.

She is also one of only five women who are listed in Toronto’s Golden Book of Remembrance.

Ms. Watson is listed in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial and the Database of Fallen Aviators.


Killed at Dieppe: Meyer Bubis

Image of Lance Corporal Meyer Bubis
Lance Corporal Meyer Bubis
Credit: Veterans Affairs Canada

Lance Corporal, Royal Regiment of Canada

Died: August 19, 1942 at Dieppe, age 27

Meyer Bubis was from a large Jewish family of seven siblings, who emigrated from Russia. He attended Riverside Collegiate and enlisted in September, 1939.

He joined the army and was posted to Iceland. He participated in the first Yom Kippur service for servicemen stationed in Iceland in 1940. Others present were soldier and fellow Torontonian Lionel Cohen, several British servicemen, and Jewish refugee families from Germany and Austria. Meyer sent a photo of the Service to his father, where he wrote on the back, Pop, this is the first time in the history of Iceland that such a service has been held. Take care of this for me.”

Lance Corporal Bubis died in the raid on Dieppe, on August 19, 1942. His body located three months after his death, is buried in Dunkirk Town Cemetery in France. The Dieppe Raid resulted in the most Torontonians killed in the line of duty, than any other day in all wars.

Meyer’s younger sister Esther, waited for her 18th birthday, a year after her brother was killed, to enlist and serve with the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. She was one of only 270 Canadian Jewish women to wear a uniform for Canada in the Second World War.  Upon her return, she resided in Oakville until her death in 2018.

Meyer Bubis is listed in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial and Ontario Jewish Archives.


A Fallen Soldier Due to Mental Health: Julius William Baxter

Signalman, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals

Died: February 27, 1941, age 29

Julius Baxter was a printer/typographer at the Toronto Daily Star. He had been promised his job when his active service ended.

A Regimental psychiatrist recommended Signalman Baxter be discharged on medical grounds, but he was charged with desertion.  Sadly, in his effort to prove his ‘unworthiness’ and be discharged, Baxter ingested substances from the medical hospital, poisoning himself to death. He was one of the first casualties of the Second World War from Toronto.

He left behind a wife and two daughters aged 10 and seven, and a three-year old son. Memorial crosses were presented to his mother, Kate and his widow, Bernice.

This story demonstrates the emotional toil and wounds that were also challenges of serving on the battlefield, prior to a true understanding of mental health and traumatic stress disorders.

Signalman Baxter’s record is listed in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial and the Service Files of the Second World War – War Dead, 1939-1947.


A Canadian Serving With the British: Jackson Stewart

This is an image of Lieutenant Jackson Stewart
Lieutenant Jackson Stewart.
Credit: Veterans Affairs Canada

Lieutenant, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps, serving with the British Royal Scots as a CANLOAN Officer

Died: September 15, 1944, age 30

Jackson Stewart studied at the University of Toronto, becoming a teacher and principal in Cheeseville and Thistletown.

He enlisted as a Private in July 1942, was promoted to Corporal and was commissioned as an officer on December 22, 1942, his wedding day to Marjorie Grace.

Lieutenant Stewart was part of the CANLOAN, a British army plan to recruit Canadian volunteers for service in the British army. The plan secured 673 volunteers in 63 regiments. The CANLOANs performed superbly in action, and their regiments grew to appreciate Canadian informality and sense of adventure.

He was wounded in July 1944, but rejoined his regiment and sadly died that September.  Lieutenant Stewart was one of 128 Canadian service people killed in action while serving with the British Army.

Two of his six brothers also served. He was survived by his wife Marjorie Grace, whom he had married just two years before his death, as well as a sister. He was buried in Kasterlee War Cemetery in Belgium.

Lieutenant Stewart’s record is listed in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.


Brothers Killed in the War:

Image of Francis Michael Scandiffio
Francis Michael Scandiffio
Credit: Veterans Affairs Canada

Francis (Frank) Michael Scandiffio

Pilot Officer, Royal Canadian Air Force

Died: July 15, 1944, age 30

 

Thomas (Tom) Peter Scandiffio

Warrant Officer Class II (Navigator), 458 (Royal Australian Air Force) Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force

Died: June 16, 1943, age 31

Image of Warrant Officer Thomas Scandiffio
Warrant Officer Thomas Scandiffio
Credit: Veterans Affairs Canada

The Scandiffio Brothers were born in Toronto.  Assigned to separate roles and squadrons, they occasionally saw each other in the spring of 1942, in England before going their separate ways. Thomas mentioned in a letter home, that the brothers had seen every continent together except South America.

Both brothers were avid letter writers and enjoyed the packages and treats from home.

Thomas (Tom) attended St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force upon his graduation from law school.  He was called to the Bar before going overseas.

He failed to return from operations while flying a mission in a Wellington aircraft in the skies around Malta. He was listed missing in action, and was never found.  His name is inscribed on the Alamein War Memorial in Egypt.

Francis (Frank) enlisted in March 1941, and trained in Canada to receive his pilots’ wings.  In 1944, while in the Pacific, Francis failed to reach his destination on a transfer flight. After encountering bad weather, his plane crashed on a mountain top.  He is buried in the War Cemetery in Delhi, India.

In of his last letters home written to his sister Millie, he mentioned that he had a pretty good baseball team consisting of Canadians, a New Zealander and two Australians. His team was planning to carry out the challenge to play an American team from the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Both brothers died a year apart and in their 31st year.  They never married and were survived by their mother, two brothers and three sisters. Their mother received the news of Francis’ death while Thomas was still listed as missing.

Thomas’s record can be found in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial and the Database of Fallen Aviators.  The Canadian Letters & Images Project has also profiled him: Thomas Peter Scandiffio.

Francis’s war record is also listed in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial and

Database of Fallen Aviators, and he is featured in the Canadian Letters & Images Project: Francis Michael Scandiffio


Supreme Sacrifice : A Father and Two Sons:

David Dudley Arthur Stewart

Rank: Lance Sergeant, 15 Canadian General Hospital, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps

Date of death: October 18, 1942, age 45

 

David Henry Alexander Stewart

Rank: Lance Corporal, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

Date of Death: July 25, 1944, age of 27

 

George Edwin Stewart

Rank: Gunner, Royal Canadian Artillery, 2 Anti-Tank Regiment

Date of Death: July 21, 1944, age 22

David Dudley and Mary Lillian Stewart had four daughters: Lillian, Mabel, Gertrude and Helen, and two sons, David Henry and George Edwin.  Tragically, father and sons all died during the Second World War. David Sr. died in England in 1942, and both brothers perished in Normandy, within five days of each other. All three of them are buried overseas in England and France.

David Dudley was a clerk at Eaton’s and single, when he enlisted in the First World War at age 20 in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF).  After arriving in England in April 1917, his chronic bronchitis led to tuberculosis of the lung. He was repatriated to Canada in November for medical treatment.

He then enlisted in 1939 during the Second World War. He served in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps that was responsible for all medical and dental services in the Army. The Corps delivered the wounded to battlefield medical stations (Casualty Clearing Stations), or for more intensive medical care in hospitals.

He would be joined a few years later by his two sons, David Henry and George Edwin, leaving behind their mother and sisters in Toronto.

David Henry enlisted in March 1942 at age 26 in the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry as a Lance Corporal.  His brother George Edwin would enlist six months later in September 1942, at age 20, as a Gunner in the Royal Canadian Artillery.

Sadly, a month after George Edwin enlisted, his father David Dudley, died in Bramshott, England in October 1942. He is buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey, England, the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the United Kingdom.

On June 6, 1944, the invasion of Normandy, now known in history as D-Day, began during which Allied forces invaded the mainland of Northwest Europe. It was a formidable task as the Germans had turned the coastline into a continuous fortress.  While a magnificent accomplishment, much more fighting lay ahead as victory in Europe was still 11 months away.  The Normandy Campaign, which saw almost 50,000 Canadian soldiers perish, lasted until late August 1944.

Both Stewart brothers perished in this campaign five days apart: George Edwin at age 22 on July 21, 1944, followed by his brother David Henry at age 27 on July 25, 1944. David Henry is buried in Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery in Calvados, France among the almost 3,000 casualties. His brother, George, is memorialized at the Bayeux Memorial also in Calvados, erected in honour of more than 1,800 who died with no known graves.

Mary Lillian lost both her husband and her sons, and four girls lost their father and brothers.  The sacrifice of this family can never be forgotten.

David Dudley is listed in the Personnel Records of the First World War and the Canadian Virtual War Memorial. His story is also in the

Official History of the Canadian Medical Services, 1939-1945.

The brothers are both listed in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial (David Henry) and Canadian Virtual War Memorial (George Edwin).


We know there are even more stories to be told. Please share them with us by posting online tagging #TorontoRemembers or contacting us at protocol@toronto.ca .


Please visit our Veterans Memory page and listen to stories from some of our Second World War veterans.

 

Torontonians of all backgrounds and experiences contributed to war efforts in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and in Afghanistan. These contributions took various forms and for many, included facing systemic barriers. While some served overseas at the front, others were engaged on the home front training pilots, working on statistics to support wartime planning and management, and in munitions factories, among many other contributions. Here are 12 of their stories.


First World War

Image of Cameron Brant
Lieutenant Cameron Brant
Credit: Mississaugas of the Credit Public Library

An Early Enlistee Falls at Ypres: Cameron Brant

Lieutenant in the 4th Canadian Infantry Battalion who served in France

Died: April 24, 1915 at the 2nd Battle of Ypres at age 28

Cameron Daniel Brant (1887-1915), was a member of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and was one of the first enlistees soon after war was declared in 1914. Commissioned a Lieutenant, Brant sailed for England in October 1914, completed training at Salisbury Plain, and was shortly after sent to France.  A capable soldier and confident leader, Lt. Brant was killed leading his men in a counter attack at the 2nd Battle of Ypres on April 24, 1915.

To commemorate Brant’s service, a plaque was erected in the New Credit United Church and his name was etched on the New Credit Veterans Memorial. In 2014, the Mississaugas of the Credit Public Library received a call from the Picton Town Library with the offer of a book once owned by Cameron Brant. It was a book of poetry titled Songs of a Sourdough by Robert Service.

The inscription inside the book revealed Brant’s signature and proved it had once belonged to Brant. It was a precious addition to their collection.  To learn more about this story, please see this video created by the City of Toronto Historic Sites: A Poetry Book Comes Home.

Story courtesy of the Mississaugas of the Credit Public Library.


Accomplished Toronto Athlete Goes to War: Tom Longboat

Served as a dispatch carrier with the 107th Pioneer Battalion in France

Tom was a champion long-distance runner who lived and trained in Toronto during his athletic career. He was a very accomplished athlete, winning the Boston Marathon in 1907, Toronto Ward’s Island Marathon from 1906-09, and the 1909 World Professional Marathon Championships, in New York City.

On February 17th, 1916, at the age of 29, Longboat enlisted in the Armed Forces. He served as a dispatch carrier with the 107th Pioneer Battalion, where he ran messages and orders between units. He continued to run competitively while in the Army. In 1918, he won the eight-mile race at the Canadian Corps Dominion Day competitions.

He was injured twice while in service, but survived the war and returned to Canada in 1919. After returning to Canada, he lived and worked in Toronto until eventually retiring to his home community of Six Nations where he died in 1949.


Veterans Advocate: Ethelbert ‘Curley’ Christian

Ethelbert ‘Curley’ Christian
Credit: Kathy Grant, Black Canadian Veterans Stories of War

Private in 78th Canadian Infantry Battalion (the Winnipeg Grenadiers). Served in France.

Died: March 15, 1954 at age 70 in Toronto.

Ethelbert ‘Curley’ Christian enlisted in the Canadian Army during the First World War at the age of 32. He served in France and fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, where he was injured by artillery fire that buried him in a trench. Christian was trapped in the trench for two days and all four of his limbs were crushed by debris.

While being carried from the battlefield, Christian again survived enemy fire when two of his stretcher bearers were killed. He developed gangrene and both arms and legs had to be amputated. He was discharged on September 3, 1918 at age 36 and moved back to Toronto where he underwent rehabilitation at Euclid Hall on Jarvis Street.

Ethelbert was well known for his advocacy for veterans. While he was in rehabilitation, Christian, along with his wife and the hospital director, appealed to the government and won an allowance for full-time caregivers of veterans who were wounded during the war.

He died in Toronto on March 15, 1954, at age 70 and is buried at Prospect Cemetery.


First Sikh Canadian to Enlist: Buckam Singh

Served as a Private in the 20th Canadian Infantry Battalion in France

Died: 1919 in Kitchener, Ontario at age 25

Buckam Singh immigrated to British Columbia in 1907 at the age of 14, eventually moving to Toronto in 1912. During this time, South Asian immigrants faced many barriers including a requirement that all immigration to Canada was to occur through a continuous journey from their country of origin. This was at a time when there were no direct ships from India to Canada. In addition, Sikh men were not allowed to immigrate with their families.

Despite these deterrents, Singh enlisted to fight in the First World War in 1915  at age 22, in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. He became the first Sikh man to enlist in the Canadian Army during the First World War. He was posted in France and served with 20th Canadian Infantry Battalion in Flanders. Singh was wounded twice in separate battles. While recovering in England, he contracted tuberculosis and was sent to Canada to recover. He spent his final days in a Kitchener, Ontario military hospital, dying in 1919 at age 25. His burial place is the only known WWI Sikh Canadian soldier’s military grave in Canada.


Second World War

Indigenous Soldier serves in both World Wars: Mathew Solomon Mandawoub

Served in the 18th Battalion from Western Ontario, in France during the First World War and in the Veterans Guard of Canada in Toronto during the Second World War.

Mathew Solomon Mandawoub was born on the Saugeen First Nation on October 26, 1896. On March 28, 1918, he joined the 18th Battalion from Western Ontario and served in France. On August 1918, Mathew’s Battalion was part of the 100 Days Offensive, the push to move the Germans out of France and end the war.  During battle, he was shot above the elbow on his left arm. He was taken to a General Hospital near the English Channel and had surgery to remove the bullet. He remained in hospital until November 29 and was discharged on January 13, 1919, in London, Ontario.

Mathew returned to the Saugeen First Nation and married Laura James. They raised a family of nine children. In 1940, Mathew joined the Veterans Guard of Canada made up of First World War veterans who supported the war effort on the home front. Mathew was assigned to guard a Prisoner of War camp in Mimico.

Mathew did not report for one of his shifts and was identified as “absent without leave”. Five days later, the body of a soldier was found in the Keating Cut, off Villiers St. near Cherry Beach, in Toronto. The commanding officer identified the body as belonging to Mathew Solomon, aged 45.

He was awarded a military cross and his personal effects were sent to his wife.  His remains were delivered to Southampton and he was buried in the Saugeen Village Cemetery.

From a story researched and written by G. William Streeter


A Young Father Falls at Dieppe: Maxwell King

Private Maxwell King
Credit: Mississaugas of the Credit Public Library

Private in the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. Served in Dieppe, France

Died: August 19, 1942 in Dieppe, France at age 25

Private Maxwell Jacob King was the son of Mr. Frank L. King, who served as a long-time Chief Councillor of the Mississaugas of the Credit.
Thirty-two band members from the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation enlisted, with five of them paying the ultimate price in the Second World War.

While overseas, Maxwell King wrote an article for the January 2, 1942 issue of “The Pine Tree Chief”, which provides some clues as to his motivation for service:

“Eight months ago today, about 10 a.m., a train loaded with Canadian soldiers pulled into Aldershot [England] and unloaded a battalion of wide-eyed cheering men.  We had answered the call of adventure in our hearts and here we were with the first contingent of the second division.  Up until this time war had meant glory to us.  It was a grand feeling to walk down the streets in our nice new uniform.  It gave us an aggressiveness which we had not known before.  We had heard lots of stories of the good times of those other soldiers (God bless them) who were youngsters like us twenty-five years ago. England was far away and we thought the war would be over before we got here anyway.  While at Camp Borden we heard rumors that we were to guard Canadian shores.  On out last leave we laughed and said good-by to our families.  We were sure we would be home again in three or four months.  We were overjoyed when they told us we were coming to England.  We would see many sights we had heard about so many times before.”

Seven months after his article was published, Private Maxwell was killed in the ill-fated raid on Dieppe on August 19, 1942, leaving behind his mother, widow, and young son Maxwell.

Story courtesy of the Mississaugas of the Credit Public Library.


Torontonian Earns Distinguished Service Order:
Benjamin Dunkelman

Image of Major Ben Dunkleman
Major Ben Dunkelman (left) with unknown soldier in Doorn, Holland, May 1945.
Credit: Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 2, series 6, file 100, item 1. Image has been resized to fit the page.

Served as a Major in the Second Battalion of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada in France

Ben Dunkelman was born to David and Rose Dunkelman, Polish-Jewish immigrants who founded Tip Top Tailors. When the Second World War began, Dunkelman attempted to enlist in the Royal Canadian Navy. Due to antisemitism he experienced there, he instead joined the 2nd Battalion of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.

Dunkelman served on D-Day, in the second wave at Normandy, on June 6, 1944. He also fought in campaigns in northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. For his service, Dunkelman earned numerous commendations and the Distinguished Service Order for his service in the Hochwold campaign. After the war, he joined other Jewish veterans in fighting in the first Arab-Israeli war.

When Ben returned to civilian life in Toronto, he worked as an entrepreneur, art gallery owner, restauranteur, and co-founder of the Toronto Island Yacht Club.

He died in 1997.


Pilot Prepares New Recruits for Service: Robert Shun Wong

Image of Robert Wong
Robert Wong
Credit: Toronto Public Library

Trained Royal Canadian Air Force pilots

During his youth, Robert Wong was fascinated by flight. He built a small airplane based on drawings from a Popular Mechanics Magazine, with his brother, Tommy.  In 1937, their plane, Sky Scout, flew its first flight.

During the Second World War, Robert worked as a civilian on contract with the federal government to train pilots. He was based at Windsor Airport, training pilots in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan on their maneuvers, landings, and on how to read instruments and navigate cross country.

Despite their extensive knowledge of flying, Robert and Tommy were not allowed to serve in the Air Force, due to discrimination against Chinese Canadians. As the war went on, the rules were changed. Tommy became a Royal Canadian Air Force Warrant Officer.

After the war, Robert settled in East York and Tommy in Etobicoke, where they continued to train pilots. They opened Wong’s Air School in 1945 at Barker Airport, located at Dufferin and Lawrence. A fire destroyed their hanger and they eventually took a lease at the Toronto Island Airport, where they opened Central Airways. It offered lessons, charters, and sales of new and used planes.

Robert died in 1987.


Black Community Leader Serves on the Homefront: Kay Livingstone

Image of Kay Livingstone
Kay Livingstone with her husband George.
Credit: Kathy Grant, Black Canadian Veterans Stories of War

Worked in the Dominion Bureau of Statistics in Ottawa to support the war effort

During the Second World War, Kay Livingstone moved to Ottawa to work as a secretary in the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, supporting the war effort.  She married George Livingstone, a Corporal in the Canadian Army, during the war. She moved to Toronto after the war, where she had a career in radio and the performing arts.

She was a prominent member of the Toronto Black community, founding the Canadian Negro Women’s Association in 1951. It was dedicated to community service including providing wheelchairs for injured Black soldiers.

Kay served as the first president of the Canadian Negro Women’s Association from 1951-1953 and organized the first National Black Women’s Congress in 1973.


University of Toronto Student Serves in the RCAF: Norda Bennett

Image of Norda Bennett
Norda Bennett, Nov. 1943.
Credit: Sylvia Schwartz. Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 80, series 2, item 2. Image has been resized to fit the page.

Major in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Women’s Division

In 1941, Norda Bennett began an honours program in Philosophy and English at the University of Toronto. She interrupted her studies in 1943 to join the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Her mother, Sophie Bennett, was also very involved in the war effort, serving as Vice-Chair of the Women’s War Efforts Committee of the Canadian Jewish Congress.

The RCAF allowed women to join through the creation of the Canadian Women’s Auxiliary Air Force that later became the RCAF Women’s Division (WD). Prior to this time, women were only allowed to fill the role of Nursing Sisters in the RCAF Medical Service. In the  Women’s Division, they were permitted to fill support jobs. In 1946, the RCAF WD was disbanded and women were permitted to join the RCAF in 1951.

After Bennett was discharged in 1944, she resumed her studies at the University of Toronto where she was a reporter for the Varsity News and participated in the Player’s Guild.


Scarborough Women’s Contributions on the Homefront: Scarborough Munitions Plant

During the Second World War, the GECO (General Engineering Company) munitions plant, located in Scarborough, was a key part of the war effort. The plant was built in 1941 and employed 5,400 people, of which 3,400 were women. The plant closed after the war. But its legacy is memorialized with a mural dedicated to the Bomb Girls on an underpass at Warden and St. Clair East, near Warden Station.


Afghanistan

Torontonian Serves in Afghanistan: Ainsworth Dyer

Image of Corporal Ainsworth Dyer
Corporal Ainsworth Dyer
Credit: Veterans Affairs Canada

Served as a Corporal in 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, in Afghanistan

Died: April 17, 2002 at age 24, as a result of a friendly-fire incident

Ainsworth Dyer grew up in Toronto and enlisted in 1997. In 2000, he was a member of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, who served in peace support efforts in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In 2002, Dyer was deployed to Afghanistan, where he lost his life at the age of 24 in a friendly fire incident. He was buried with full military honours in the Necropolis Cemetery in Toronto. The Royal Canadian Legion named his mother, Mrs. Agatha Dyer, the 2004 National Silver Cross Mother.


We know there are even more stories to be told. Please share them with us by posting online tagging #TorontoRemembers or contacting us at protocol@toronto.ca .


Other Resources and Related Projects

 

Veterans Affairs Canada:

Cenotaphs of Toronto

Old City Hall 2018 Remembrance Day.  Credit: City of Toronto, Andrew Lahodynskyj

Over the past 100 years, Torontonians have gathered at Cenotaphs on November 11th and at other times of the year to pay tribute to the fallen.

A cenotaph is a monument to people who died in a war, specifically those who are buried elsewhere.

Thousands of Canadian servicemen and women, some from Toronto,  are not buried in Canada. They are buried in graves throughout Europe and other locations, or were lost at sea or in battle and their bodies were never recovered.

During the first Armistice Day ceremony in Toronto, we began the tradition of paying tribute to our fallen soldiers at a cenotaph. On November 8, 1920, Toronto City Council voted to erect a temporary cenotaph at the base of the now Old City Hall, to observe Armistice Day. The budget for the temporary wood cenotaph was $200.

In 1925, a permanent Cenotaph was erected at Old City Hall and another cenotaph was built in Scarborough between 1921 and 1931.

Over the years, cenotaphs and monuments have been added in many locations throughout Toronto, at military regiments, government buildings and churches. They are important gathering places on Remembrance Day.

This video captures some of the cenotaphs and war memorials in Toronto.

More information on the Cenotaphs seen in this video:

Other memorials are also located on the City of Toronto’s Public Art Map 

More information on memorials and war cemeteries in Canada and around the world, that honour Canadians can be found through Veterans Affairs Canada.

On important commemorative occasions, the City of Toronto remembers those who have given their lives in service to our country. We pay respect to them for helping to create and shape the rights and freedoms we enjoy today. In doing so, we also honour the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country in the Canadian Armed Forces.

When the City hosts ceremonies, there are many symbolic elements that pay tribute to those who have fallen, those who have served and those who continue to serve during times of war, conflict, as well as those who help maintain peace.

Our rituals of Remembrance, whether at ceremonies or in virtual commemoration, often include various symbolic elements.  Further information about these elements of the ceremony is explained here:


Books of Remembrance

Image of the front page of the Book of Memory
Mayor Tory officially dedicated the Great War Book of Remembrance in 2018

The Golden Book of Remembrance pays tribute to the war dead from the Second World War, containing the names of 3,452 service men and women from Toronto who paid the ultimate sacrifice for victory.

The Great War Book of Remembrance contains the names of more than 4,000 Canadians from Toronto who died in service to our country during the First World War.


Commemorative Flag to fly at City Hall

Official flag of the City of Toronto
The City of Toronto flag was flown on Vimy Ridge Day at Juno Beach

To mark the 75th year since the Normandy invasion by allied forces, a City of Toronto Flag was sent to the Juno Beach Centre in France.

The flag was flown on Juno Beach on April 9, 2019, Vimy Ridge Day, to commemorate the heroism and sacrifice of Canadian Troops at Juno Beach on
D-Day.

The flag was returned to the City and will fly on the Podium Roof of City Hall on Remembrance Day, on June 6 (D-Day) and on other occasions.


Vigil Sentries

Remembrance Day ceremonies Old City Hall - vigil guards
Vigil guards at the Old City Hall Remembrance Day ceremony

The sentries stand vigil at the four corners of the cenotaph or memorial with heads bowed and rifles reversed (known as reverse arms).

The sentries take their post prior to the commencement of the commemorative service and remain in position until the colours are marched off and they are dismissed.

The vigil sentries may represent different elements of the Canadian Armed Forces such as the Royal Canadian Navy, the Army and Royal Canadian Air Force. They may also represent members of the Armed Forces in different historical uniforms from various eras. Sentries may also be drawn from the Royal Canadian Army, Sea or Air Cadets, or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.


Tower Bells

Toronto Old City Hall clock tower strikes 11:00 a.m. on Remembrance Day
The Old City Hall clock tower strikes 11 a.m. on Remembrance Day

The Old City Hall clock tower bells ring at 11 a.m. to mark the end of the First World War and the armistice that went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. This date is now known as Remembrance Day.

 

 


The Last Post

Bugler plays the last post during Remembrance Day ceremonies at Toronto's Old City Hall
A bugler plays the last post during Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Old City Hall Remembrance Day ceremony

The Last Post is played by a bugler. Traditionally, it symbolizes the end of the day in the military.

Historically, it was played to let soldiers still on the battlefield know that fighting was over and that they should return to camp.

In a commemorative service, the playing of The Last Post symbolizes the soldiers’ final call and summons their spirit to the cenotaph.

Playing it at the beginning of the ceremony indicates that the day’s proceedings are outside the norm, as it is a day of commemoration.

The ceremony starts with music which is normally played at the end of the day and ends with what is normally heard at the start.


Two Minutes of Silence

Veteran participating in the The Two Minutes of Silence
A veteran participating in the The Two Minutes of Silence

Two Minutes of Silence is the central element of Remembrance Day ceremonies. It is a time to pause and remember the service and sacrifice made by men and women who have given their lives in service to our country.

The Silence originated in Cape Town, South Africa, where there was a daily moment of silence, known as the Two Minute Pause which started in 1918. It was initiated by a daily firing of the noon day gun on Signal Hill. The first minute was a time of thanksgiving for those who had returned alive, the second was to remember the fallen.

In 1919, King George V asked that it be observed throughout the Commonwealth and it has been an important feature of remembrance ever since.

In Ontario, the Remembrance Week Act 2016, encourages the voluntary observance in pausing and observing two minutes of silence. During this time, we honour those who died serving their country in wars and in peacekeeping efforts.


Lament

Scottish bagpiper playing The Lament to the Fallen at the Remembrance Day ceremony, Old City Hall Toronto
The Scottish bagpiper plays The Lament to the Fallen

The Lament titled The Lament to the Fallen is played by a piper to honour fallen soldiers.

The Scottish folk tune, Flowers of the Forest, commemorating the defeat of the Battle of Flodden in 1513, is often played at a funeral to honour the deceased.

 

 

 


The Rouse

Toronto Fire staff member plays the Rouse on a bugle during a Remembrance Day ceremony.
Toronto Fire staff member plays the Rouse on a bugle during a Remembrance Day ceremony

The Rouse is played by a bugler. It is normally the first call sounded in the morning and used as a wake-up call for the soldiers.

During a Remembrance Day ceremony, it is played to signify the resurrection of the spirit of the fallen at the conclusion of the Act of Remembrance.


Flypast

Remembrance Day fly past in missing man formation - four WW2 aircraft flying over downtown Toronto
Remembrance Day fly past in missing man formation – four WW2 aircraft flying over downtown Toronto

The Remembrance Day 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 Canadian Harvard aircraft was used to train the thousands of pilots involved in the D-Day invasion. The Harvards were used in the last phase of training before a pilot got their wings and moved on to the fighters or bombers in operational units. As part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, the Harvards were used in training more than 20,000 pilots throughout the duration of the Second World War.


Old City Hall Parade Order

  • Remembrance Day Ceremony, Toronto Fire Fighter Honour Guard participant marching in parade
    Toronto Fire Fighter Honour Guard participant marching in a Remembrance Day ceremony

    City of Toronto 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
  • Municipal Licensing & Standards Honour Guard
  • Members of the Canadian Armed Forces
  • Other Police Forces
  • Veterans Organizations
  • Royal Canadian Legion Members
  • Members of the Royal Canadian Cadet Corps (Sea, Army, Air)