Above, the Winchester Legion honoured the fallen Nov. 8 with a livestreamed, socially-distanced event, in front of the village cenotaph at Winchester District Memorial Hospital — with thanks to the Winchester Lions for sponsoring the NVN livestream.
EASTERN ONTARIO — As with everything else in 2020, Remembrance Day commemorations will be different this year.
To be sure, local Legions are still carrying out some form of remembrance at the cenotaphs around the Nation Valley and Eastern Ontario on November 11 (or the weekend prior in those places that traditionally do it early).
Physical distancing, masks, lack of parades, wreaths laid in advance, and gentle discouragement against public attendance — mindful of the gathering limit of 25 — are all part of the unfortunate mix during this pandemic year. But make no mistake, Legions are still taking care to ensure we all never forget the supreme sacrifice of those who fought and died for Canada.
In Winchester, legionnaires will conduct Sunday, Nov. 8, observances at the Winchester District Memorial Hospital Cenotaph, but a curtailed affair compared to a normal year. There will be no band, parade, reception or indoor service afterward. Wreaths will be laid in advance. Participants will be masked and won’t stand closer than two metres apart unless part of the same household. Even the flag party will move at six-foot intervals.
Nation Valley News will stream the Winchester ceremonies live on Facebook, with the kind sponsorship of the Winchester Lions Club. The stream begins at noon, Sunday, Nov. 8.
Not open to the public this year, Chesterville Legion Branch 434 will conduct Nov. 11 commemorations involving only invited guests and Legion members at the village Cenotaph in Veteran’s Memorial Park. “Those who would like to share in the ceremony should step outside to observe the two minutes of silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month,” says the Chesterville Legion. The institution also points out that Veteran’s Memorial Park will be open after the ceremony for anyone wishing to pay respects and place poppies or wreaths at the Cenotaph. As a service to the community, Chesterville Legion will lay wreaths for all its local clients at no charge, noting that businesses and organizations have suffered with the shut downs and restrictions.
The towering Morewood Cenotaph will see its 100th annual Nov. 11th observance — but in the modest fashion typifying 2020 — and without the public present.
Overseen by the Finch Legion, the usual public observances at the Berwick, Avonmore and Newington cenotaphs aren’t taking place this year (though wreaths will be quietly placed at those sites earlier in the day on the 11th.) Instead, the Finch Legion will host a modest outdoor November 11th gathering at McIntosh Memorial Park in Berwick to accommodate physical distancing, says Finch’s Poppy Chair Sandra McMillan. The names of the war dead from all three communities will be read aloud at the Park, along with the businesses and individuals sponsoring this year’s wreaths. The event will not involve colour parties or marches and no reception will occur afterward at the Legion.
“This is certainly a different year,” notes McMillan.
Wreaths will be quietly laid at the Moose Creek cenotaph as well.
Long Sault and Ingleside
Long Sault Royal Canadian Legion Branch 569 will celebrate Remembrance Day on Sunday Nov. 8 at both the Ingleside Cenotaph (10 a.m.) and the Lost Villages Museum (11 a.m.) However, as with other areas, there will be no cadet parade nor marching band, and there won’t be a luncheon following the ceremonies.
Morrisburg Legion Branch 48 won’t host an official ceremony or luncheon at its building this year. Instead, executive members will place wreaths at the base of the Morrisburg Cenotaph beside the post office. Rather than attend, members of the public are asked to have a moment of silence wherever they are — at 11 a.m. on the Remembrance Day.
Iroquois Legion 370 will lay four wreaths Nov. 8 at the village cenotaph without embellishment: There will be no bands or refreshments because of the pandemic.
Similar to Iroquois, only a wreath-laying will occur at the Matilda Hall in Dixons Corners.
In Russell, members of the public to come after the 11th hour on Remembrance Day to pay respects personally or in family groups.
“We would like to limit the participation at the corner of 1st Ave. and Legion Lane to only active service families and veterans in their respective distanced masked groups,” says Russell Legion Branch Cathy Couellette, who points out the Canadian Forces mandates serving members off on the statutory holiday to be present at a cenotaph in uniform. “So we expect a significant local turnout.”
Only the anthem, last post, rouse, prayers, lament, etc. will be conducted in Russell — with no speeches or parades.
“We will then request families to form a line along Legion Lane in front of the legion, and into the parking lot, respecting distancing,” says Couellette. ” In this manner they can all approach the cenotaph as a family unit, lay their pins, and retire in any direction they choose — ideally up 1st Ave on the sidewalk and to parking at the fairgrounds.”
“We believe that this plan presents the lowest reasonable risk for transmission or other issues, and yet still capture those who wish to pay respects in person and also allow those who have served and / or lost friends in service the priority access to attend the service and keep the unbroken history of this remembrance.”