'We can never forget': Toronto marks Remembrance Day

Veterans take part in a Remembrance Day service at the cenotaph at Old City Hall, in Toronto,  on Nov. 11, 2022. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Veterans take part in a Remembrance Day service at the cenotaph at Old City Hall, in Toronto, on Nov. 11, 2022. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

The streets around Old City Hall filled Friday morning with people looking to pay their respects to those who've fought and served for Canada over a great many decades.

Exactly a century ago, Mayor John Tory told the crowd at the ceremony, Torontonians gathered at Old City Hall in front of what was then still a wooden cenotaph in remembrance of the First World War.

They did not know yet that the Great Depression would follow or, he said, "another deadly world war."

According to the City of Toronto, about 10,000 residents of Toronto gave their lives during conflicts across the 20th century.

"It's that perspective I think is important for us to remember today," Tory said. "We can never forget … neither can we assume the way ahead."

Evan Mitsui/CBC
Evan Mitsui/CBC

Ontario Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell echoed Tory's remarks during her own.

"With all our talk of building back better after this pandemic, we must prove that we have actually learned the lessons of the past," Dowdeswell said.

"Where there is disagreement may we spark dialogue, where there is division may we always strive to form unity. We owe it to Canada's fallen heroes to do whatever it is within our power to uphold the values that they fought for, to bolster the foundations of our democracy that they lay down their lives to strengthen."

This year marks several important anniversaries, in particular the 80th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid, a battle that claimed the lives of more than 900 Canadian soldiers. It's often described as the Canadian military's bloodiest day of the Second World War.

This year is also the 80th anniversary of the formation of the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service, the Wrens. During the Second World War, the Wrens served Canada in administrative, signalling, coding and wireless telegraphy roles.

And, as Dowdeswell pointed out during the Old City Hall ceremony, this month also marks the 150th birthday of Col. John McRae, who wrote the poem "In Flanders Fields."

Evan Mitsui/CBC
Evan Mitsui/CBC

Elsewhere in the city, Premier Doug Ford led the main provincial tribute at the provincial legislature. That tribute featured a 21-gun salute and a flypast at Queen's Park courtesy of the Canadian Armed Forces.

"Remembrance Day is an opportunity for us to acknowledge the debt of gratitude every Canadian owes to our veterans and service members, as well as commemorate those brave souls who have made the ultimate sacrifice," said Ford in a statement.

"We must demonstrate our appreciation, not only today, but every day that we enjoy the freedoms they have made possible."

The City of Toronto sign at city hall will be lit up red in remembrance.