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:
Here is how you can commemorate Remembrance Day:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Read about some of the heroes mentioned and listen to a few of their stories on the Golden Book of Remembrance page. You can also listen to our Second World War veterans’ stories on our Veterans Memories page.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
Other Resources and Related Projects
Veterans Affairs Canada:
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
City of Toronto Honour Guard