Victory in Europe (V-E) Day on May 8, 1945 marked the official end of the Second World War in Europe. It was a joyful day celebrated by many in Canada, Europe and other Allied Nations around the world.
On May 8, 2020, the City of Toronto commemorates 75 years since V-E Day by honouring all those who made the ultimate sacrifice as well as our surviving Second World War veterans. In addition, we remember the triumphant scenes that unfolded across Toronto and around the world on that day, reminding us of the resilience of the people who had all contributed to the victory.
The 75th anniversary of V-E Day is especially an important recognition due to the aging veteran population, the limited opportunities remaining to thank them for their service, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the older members of our community.
We thank them, remember them and stand with them during these challenging times. They are strong and resilient heroes whose sacrifice and service afford us the lives and liberties we have today.
The Second World War was a defining event in Canadian history, transforming a quiet country into a key player in the most important struggle of the 20th century. Among the million Canadians who served in the military, 47,000 Canadians gave their lives, more than 3,400 of these were from Toronto.
Globally, the War claimed the lives of more than 80 million people worldwide from virtually every nation. Many of those who fought, on all sides, have since settled in Toronto along with refugees as a result of the war.
The war was a total effort which involved many on the home front who worked in factories, aided militia and reserve regiments, promoted public spirit and morale of the troops and supported their loved ones who were abroad and at sea.
At war’s end, Canada had become a significant military power with the world’s third largest navy, the fourth largest air force and an army of six divisions. Canada had grown significantly through the ordeal of the war and assumed new responsibilities as a leading member of the world community.
Although most of Toronto’s military contributions were involved in the European conflict, the Second World War officially ended on August 15, 1945 when Japan surrendered, finally ending all hostilities.
V-E Day has been commemorated by the City of Toronto on significant anniversaries. This international date is commemorated thought the world as well. Commemorations were planned widely around the world on the 75th anniversary, given that it may be one of the last opportunities where veterans would still be able to participate as all of them are in their 90s. However, given the COVID-19 pandemic, all of the City’s physical commemoration service plan have been cancelled.
V-E Day and other military anniversaries will be commemorated in physical ceremonies and celebrations again when it is safe to gather.
The City’s Golden Book of Remembrance pays tribute to those who perished in the Second World War. These books contain the names of service people from Toronto who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The book was officially dedicated by the City on December 28, 1947 and contains the names of more than 3,400 servicemen and servicewomen from Toronto who gave their lives between 1939 and 1945. The book is normally housed at the City of Toronto Archives.
WHEREAS on May 8, 1945, the Allies of the Second World War formally accepted Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces, marking the end of World War II in Europe. This year marks 75 years since this historic milestone of Victory in Europe (V-E Day).
Canada made a massive and valiant military contribution that tragically resulted in the ultimate sacrifice for many Canadians whose lives were lost at sea, on land and in the air. Of the one million Canadians who served, 47,000 perished in the war including more than 3,400 Toronto residents.
By its end, Canada was a significant military power and had assumed new responsibilities as a leading member of a new global community.
The war also claimed the lives of more than 80 million people from nearly every country. Many who served or who became refugees – as a result of the war – settled in Toronto to build on and enjoy the peace and freedom we have come to cherish.
We honour the legacy of V-E Day by commemorating the sacrifice of those who brought peace and freedom to Europe and the world, as well as the courage and tenacity of those who survived and those who contributed on the home front. The triumph we remember on V-E Day was the result of a collective effort that overcame great odds.
This year, more than ever, we are inspired by and honour the members of that generation who are still among us. We salute their resilience. We look to their example as we are now asked to make sacrifices for the common good as we fight a global pandemic together.
The City of Toronto honours and acknowledges the bravery and courage of all Canadian veterans who fought for the peace and freedom we enjoy today.
NOW THEREFORE, I, Mayor John Tory, on behalf of Toronto City Council, do hereby proclaim May 8, 2020 as “V-E Day” in the City of Toronto.
The City placed a wreath at the Old City Hall Cenotaph at dawn to commemorate all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Second World War.
A large sized Canadian Flag was raised on Nathan Phillips Square at Toronto City Hall in a spirit of celebration to mark this 75th anniversary of V-E Day. The flag was raised as a lone trumpeter played Reveille, a bright, cheerful call to rouse soldiers from their slumber, ready for the day ahead. The Reveille symbolises an awakening in a better world for the dead, and rouses the living to duty after paying respects to their fallen comrades.
We encourage all Torontonians, and Canadians, to raise a Canadian flag on this day in tribute to this Victory and to honour our veterans.
Marking the 75th year since the Normandy invasions by allied forces, a City of Toronto Flag was flown at the Juno Beach Centre in France on April 9, 2019 (Vimy Ridge Day).
The flag was returned to the City and will fly at City Hall on the Podium Roof on May 8, 2020 and on other commemorative dates.
The Toronto Sign and the City Hall Tower Lights will be lit in a combination of red/white/blue to celebrate this 75th anniversary of V-E Day. This reminds us of the colours under which Canadian Forces fought at the time, as well as those of our principal allies, the United States and United Kingdom.