Service Sponsored by Earlscourt Branch 65, Royal Canadian Legion
This year was the 81st sunrise service organized by the Earlscourt Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, at Prospect Cemetery near St. Clair Avenue West and Lansdowne Avenue in Toronto. The service actually begins at 8:00 a.m., though they used to hold it at sunrise in an attempt to hold it as close as possible to the "Eleventh Hour on the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month" the armistice was signed in France in 1918.
It is not a well-publicized ceremony, so is unfortunately not very well attended (usually well under 100 people). But there are always several news cameras, because it’s the only early service in Toronto and hence a good live event for morning television. CP24's "Camera" Woolley was covering the event. The service also attracts a number of west-end Toronto politicians. Today I spotted MP Alan Tonks, MPP Mike Colle, Councillors Bill Saundercook and Cesar Palacio and separate school trustee Rob Davis.
This year a gentleman handed me a lapel pin with explanatory card from Veterans Affairs, the pin comprised of two poppies sandwiching a gold maple leaf. I don’t think they were handed to everyone. Perhaps it was because I was taking pictures.
We were lucky to have sunshine today, as in other years it has been grey or even raining. Though when shivering from cold or damp I like to admonish myself by imagining what it was like in the trenches in World War I, with no prospect of a hot coffee or breakfast in less than an hour.
Update: speaking of cold, guess whose furnace wasn't working when she got home? Serves me right. Furnace guy is coming today though.
Prospect Cemetery is a going concern as a cemetery and mausoleum, so in recent years has taken the opportunity of the sunrise service to engage in some low-key promotion, i.e. offering free coffee and Timbits, pens, etc. and having their manager make some brief remarks during the program. I have no problem with it, but I don't like to take any of the freebies, just out of superstition!
Hope you all take the opportunity to remember today.
The parade waits to enter the cemetery from St. Clair Avenue West. FYI, they are standing on the concrete right-of-way built for the much-delayed and still-unfinished St. Clair light rail line.
Parade approaching the Cross of Sacrifice inside the cemetery
Guarding the Cross of Sacrifice
Retiring of old flag
Wreaths waiting to be placed on cross by representatives of veterans, Canadian Forces, police, fire and elected officials