Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — “They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn; At the going down of the sun and in the morning; We will remember them.” – Act of Remembrance

Bill Davidson, 85, was in a rare position today.

Not only was he indoors, watching Rembrance Day services out a window at RCL Branch 302.

But he was one of only a handful of Second World War veterans who made it out on a cold November day.

But the former Gravenhurst boy, who now lives in Bracebridge, was just glad to be among old company.

He didn’t stand out — in fact he sat through the whole thing, dressed in his legion uniform and beret.

But for those looking to pay their respects, he was hard to miss.

Though he, too, has grown old (“… as we that are left grow old…”) and age has wearied him (see above), he still remembers.

“I went to school with your Uncle John (Clairmont),” he tells me with a note of familiarity.

He joined a couple hundred people, most who pay their respects at the legion each year, and many new to the community and the service.

It was a familiar sight and a comforting memorial for men and women like Davidson, whose brother Murray died last year after a distinguished military career that always included the legion and this day.

Davidson will also mourn his sister, Betty (Davidson) Sutherland, who recently died and will be buried Thursday.

Still, in good spirits, Davidson enjoyed the morning filled with music by the Gravenhurst BiFocals Band and a colourful parade of legionnaires and community members all ages.

Among the 200 or so were two young regular Canadian Forces members from Quebec.

Kristopher Hoffman’s grandfather was Wes Hoffman, another longtime Branch #302 veteran; and his mother is Laura Hoffman-Steiger, who was the parade marshal. Her husband Brian Steiger led the Muskoka Paramedics contingent.

Brian’s father John, a retired Toronto police auxiliary officer, sat with Davidson and enjoyed the hot chilli and cake after provided by the ladies’ auxiliary and branch.

When it was all over, legion members gathered up the dozens of wreaths layed and returned them to their boxes to be stored for another 11 months until next October when they’ll begin month-long process of gearing up for Nov. 11, 2020.

And at the going down of the sun tonight, all will know that they still remember them.

Parade marshal Laura Hoffman-Steiger welcomed her son Kristopher Hoffman from Montreal.
John Steiger, left, and his son Brian chat with Bill Davidson and Rev. Tim Richards after the service.
Ladies’ Auxiliary president Sharon Dobson,  left, Kristopher Hoffman and Gord Smith, the youngest and oldest veterans, help cut a cake with Comrade James Ure and legion president Heather Schell.

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