On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians pause in memory of the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives in military service. This takes place at towns, villages, cities and homes throughout North America, Europe and other regions of the world.
Remembrance Day was first held throughout the British Commonwealth in 1919. It marks the signing of the Armistice agreement to end the First World War and came into effect at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, the year prior.
The last WW1 soldier was killed at 10:58 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, just 2 minutes before the armistice (official end of the war) took place and Pte. George Lawrence Price who was felled by a bullet would become the final Commonwealth soldier and the last of more than 66,000 Canadians to be killed in the First World War.
From 1923 to 1931, Armistice Day was held on the Monday of the week in which November 11 fell. Thanksgiving was also celebrated on this day.
In 1931, M.P. Allan Neill introduced a bill to hold Armistice Day on a fixed day – November 11. During the bill’s introduction, it was decided the word “Remembrance” would be used instead of “Armistice”. The bill passed and Remembrance Day was conducted on November 11, 1931. Thanksgiving Day was moved to October 12 that year.
About 650,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders (the province then still a colony of Britain) had served during the war, beginning in 1914. The last Canadian veteran of WW11, John Babcock, died in February 2010 at the age of 109.
Rememberance Day isn’t a national holiday across Canada, although employees in federal institutions get the day off. Several provinces and territories — including Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, and Yukon —observe a statutory (paid day off) holiday. Ontario and Quebec do not. Presently, there is a move in those provinces to make Rememberance Day a statutory holiday.
For those who have asked the question, “When did Rememberance Day become a statutory holiday in BC?”. One might assume that the answer should be easy enough to find. (No, so, I could find no reference to an actual date that didn’t conflict with other information.)