By the spring of 1945, weariness with the war was palpable. More than one million Canadians had served in the armed forces, with 42,000 killed and tens of thousands more wounded or interned in prisoner of war camps. An early report of German surrender on April 28 was incorrect, but it set up an expectation of victory and a hope for peace. Finally, when the confirmation of Germany’s surrender was released on May 7, people in Toronto were ready for a celebration.
In addition to being happy, Torontonians were also profoundly grateful to all of those who had given their lives fighting for freedom from Axis tyranny. It is very moving to think of 20,000 people gathering to give thanks and to pray for a better world.