As Remembrance Day approaches, there’s a hustle and bustle at the Collingwood Legion while members prepare for the annual service and parade.
According to Rob Graham, president of Legion Branch 63 for the last 13 years, six weeks goes by very quickly.
While the service is much the same year-over-year, there’s still a poppy campaign to organize, a parade to plan, and a service to order.
“Six weeks go by very quickly,” said Graham. “We tweak it where necessary, but it’s kind of a set pattern. We try to keep the service as compact as we can.”
The Collingwood cenotaph is across the road from the open harbour, and a north wind blowing across the water can make standing at the cenotaph for a service a chilling experience. In fact, the weather forecast for this weekend is negative temperatures and snow.
Graham recalls one service held under sunny skies and double-digit temperatures in his years being part of the local Remembrance Day events.
That hasn’t stopped people from attending, though.
Graham said Collingwood’s service is well-attended with crowds packing the lawn in front of the Collingwood museum where a statue of a bugler marks the centre of the memorial service.
“It’s heartening to the vets we have left,” said Graham.
The service may be much the same, but it never gets old.
“When you walk up the crescent and the people start clapping, it’s amazing,” said Graham with a pause. “You watch 60 years roll off of [the Veterans]. That really makes it all worthwhile.”
This year’s Remembrance Day service also includes a tribute to the end of the First World War, which was exactly 100 years ago on Nov. 11, 2018.
At 6 a.m. on Sunday (Nov. 11) the Bienn Gorm Highlanders will be at the Collingwood cenotaph off St. Paul Street to play Battle’s O’er.
At 10:40 a.m. the Remembrance Day parade begins, travelling from Simcoe Street along St. Paul Street to the cenotaph. At 10:50 a.m. Town Crier Ken Templeman will perform a Cry for Peace. The band will perform Battle’s O’er before the Moment of Silence and Last Post. The ceremony continues with the laying of wreaths. By 11:30 the public is welcome to return to the Collingwood Legion Branch 63 for comradeship.
At 6:55 another service takes place at Millenium Park as part of an international event called Battle’s Over, which is a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. At this time, the church bells of Trinity United Church and St. Mary’s Catholic church will toll 104 times, once for each Collingwood man and woman killed and buried overseas during the First World War. Mayor Sandra Cooper and Mayor-Elect Brian Saunderson will read the names of those 104 people. For more on the Millenium Park service, click here.