Many years ago, I used to go to the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the War Memorial on Elgin Street, but once Canada became embroiled in international conflicts, the huge crowds of spectators on Confederation Square made it impossible to see, hear or park. Then I discovered Remembrance Day in Russell and Vars and other small communities. My personal favourite is Russell’s, which is held at the traditional time and date of 11pm, November 11 at the Legion (on Legion Lane) in Russell Village. It’s a big ceremony and includes a parade with OPP, RCMP, Air Cadets, Scouts, Guides and Legionnaires, among others. For the last two years, those paying their respects have also seen the CF-18 flypast out of Ottawa.
There are several other services, however, and since the ones just east of the city are mostly organized by the Legionnaires in Russell (Branch #372), they have staggered times and dates, starting last weekend.
The first one was in Casselman at the Cenotaph beside Ste-Euphémie Roman Catholic Church – a beautiful old stone building – and the Cenotaph and rue Principale provide lots of space. There are even bleachers to sit on. This ceremony was held on Sunday, November 4, at 10am.
On the same day, the Vars service was held at 2pm at the Cenotaph. The recently refurbished Cenotaph is set in a little park which provides a beautiful and quiet setting.
On November 11, besides the Russell service, the Limoges service will be at that community’s Cenotaph at 1pm and the Embrun service will be at 3pm at the Cenotaph in front of the Township Hall.
Legion branches in other rural areas also offer Remembrance Day Services, including Bells Corners Branch 593, South Carleton Branch 314 in Manotick, Orleans Branch 632, Osgoode Branch 589, Richmond Branch 625, Greely Branch 627 (which is near Edwards on Mitch Owens Road), and Stittsville Branch 618. Not all are at 11am on 11/11 so check online for times and dates.
If you don’t want to brave the crowds downtown, attend one of these Services of Remembrance. Elgin Street may have the Prime Minister, but sometimes the solemnity of war is best commemorated in a small and peaceful place.