Hundreds of Elliot Lake residents braved snow-covered, icy streets and sidewalks and a cold damp wind to take part in a Remembrance Day observance marking the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice. It led to the end of hostilities in the First World War. Like hundreds of other ceremonies across Canada, the local ceremony on the centennial of the Armistice signing at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 of that year took place this Sunday morning, Nov. 11, 2018. It was held at the Elliot Lake Cenotaph on Manitoba Road.
A Colour Guard of veterans and Legion members left the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 561 just a few hundred metres south of the cenotaph and marched the short distance to attend the service which started at 10:45 a.m.
They stood vigil on the adjacent street while prayers and observances were delivered by Elliot Lake Legion Padre Deacon Joe O'Neill. He paid tribute to all of Elliot Lake's Canadian veterans from the First World War, World War 2, and the men and women who served in the conflicts Korea and Afghanistan.
A combined choir of students from Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima schools sang a number of hymns and songs appropriate to the occasion.
At 11 a.m., church bells across the city pealed in recognition of the Remembrance Day centennial, while at the cenotaph 2 minutes of silence were held in honour of Canada's war dead.
Elliot Lake Mayor Dan Marchisella was the final speaker at the cenotaph. He brought a message on behalf of the city, telling the gathering about the importance of Remembrance Day observances based on his own experiences as a Canadian Forces veteran.
The mayor stressed the importance of recognizing the sacrifice of members of the Canadian military while appreciating their service to our country. He said we all need to be thankful for what they did overseas to make sure we can continue live in peace in the warmth and comfort of our homes in Canada.
Following the ceremony and the placement of dozens of wreaths festooned with bright red poppies from family, friends and sponsors at the cenotaph, members of the public poured into the Legion nearby for light refreshments.
After the Centennial Ceremony downtown, Legion members headed to Elliot Lake's Woodland Cemetery in early afternoon to lay a wreath for the Unknown Soldier. Following that the group went to St. Joseph's Manor adjacent to St. Joseph's General Hospital on Spine Road to conduct a Remembrance Centennial Ceremony for the residents. They were accompanied by the "Jewels of "Harmony" with a musical performance.
Canada's military history is long and impressive. In the First World War, as Britain battled the Germans, Canadians joined the war by the tens of thousands starting in 1914.
More than 650,000 men and women from Canada and Newfoundland (which was then not a Canadian province) volunteered to serve. More than 66,000 Canadians died in battle in the First World War, also know as Great War, while another 172,000 were wounded.
As a result of the Allied Victory that followed which ended the conflict with Germany, Canada was granted the right to be a signatory to the Versailles Treaty, that wrapped up the War.
The late Robert Manuel, an Elliot Lake resident who came here in 1956, was responsible for getting April 9 declared National Heritage Day in Canada through a bill that passed the Canadian Parliament in 2003.
The day commemorates the Canadian victory in First World War Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917. In it, the Canadians were victorious after the British and French armies had been unable to stem the tide of battle. Mr. Manuel served as president of the Legion in Elliot Lake for multiple terms and died in April 2017. He was a Korean War veteran.
In the Second World War, which ran from 1939 through 1945, more than 1,000,000 Canadian men and women served in our military as members of the Allied Forces. Some 45,000 thousand of those Canadian veterans died in the service while another 55,000 were wounded.
More recently, 26,000 Canadians served in the Korean War in 1950 through 1953. Some 516 of our soldiers died in the conflict. Since then, over 40,000 members of the Canadian Forces have served in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014. 158 Canadians lost their lives in that conflict.