Photos by Lois Cooper | MuskokaTODAY.com
GRAVENHURST — At precisely 11 a.m. this morning — 101 years after the First World War ended with a pair of signatories — Gravenhurst stood silent.
A poignant siren from a passing fire truck on Bethune Drive drew closer, louder, then passed south, as Royal Canadian Legion bugler Mark Clairmont sounded off with the Last Post, followed by two minutes of silence, the piper’s lament and Reveille.
A gentle snow fell and another Remembrance Day had begun.
Just in time, as the cold front that had set in early Nov. 11 was starting to be felt as some 200 people settled in for an hour-long service at the Harry Wray RCL Branch #302.
After a large crowd of some 60 unaffiliated community members and had followed the “quick march” colour guard and pipes and drums uptown to lay a wreath at the Opera House cenotaph, they were back in record time.
Once back they stood patiently, silently at attention for a long 15 minutes in front of the cenotaph, guarded by three cadets with their heads bowed and their rifles pointed at the ground.
When 11 o’clock came, Rev. Tim Richards called the Remembrance Day ceremony to commence.
Legion president Heath Schell read the Act of Remembrance:
“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.”
The Last Post, lament, silence, Reveille.
James Ure read the honour roll of Gravenhurst war dead from the First World War: 17 names and Second World War: 26 names.
Family names like “… John Beers … D.C. Davidson … Harry Stock … William J. Cook … Louise Lemyre … Harold Muldrew ….”
Only a handful of veterans from the two great wars were on hand, including Bill Davidson, 85, who grew up in Gravenhurst and now lives in Bracebridge.
He watched the service out a window from inside the warm confines of the branch and afterward enjoyed chatting with people who came up to thank him for his service.
While attendance was down slightly, the community was nonetheless well represented as usual, including Mayor Paul Kelly and council, firefighters, girl guides, boy scouts, paramedic and many club and social service groups.
Legion parade marshal Laua Hoffman-Steiger was joined by her son Kristopher Hoffman of Montreal and his girlfriend Caroline Gelineau of Quebec City, regular forces members who travelled from Quebec.
It was a fitting annual tribute for a significant segment of society that deserves due praise.
Later this afternoon, Schell and the legion were recognized on the 80th anniversay of the branch at a community open house.
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