Mark Clairmont |

MACTIER — It was a simple salute that could have gone unnoticed amid the pomp and circumstance of another legion remembrance.

But a symbolic salutation that stood for all that is good about Canada and the service day to come.

After taking the official salute in a parade march-past on MacTier’s main street Sunday, District E Commander Rick Preston raised his right arm and white-gloved hand to his forehead as he approached the recently new Branch 507 cenotaph.

A gesture that seemed to catch the Moose Deer Point drummers standing around their drum in front a bit off guard.

One of them hastilly responded in kind to the unscripted address with an albeit less crisp, but mutually respectful salute.

District E Commander Rick Preston gives and receives a mutually respectful salute from a Moose Deer Point drummer at the start of Sunday afternoon’s Drumhead service in MacTier.

The exchange symbolized the heart of the “Drumhead Service,” a centuries-old battlefield show of respect. A solemn celebration that “pays homage to comrades who offered their lives in defence of our country.”

One not lost on about 100 veterans, Royal Canadian Legion members, Bracebridge Pioneer Army Cadets and regular forces members from Canadian Forces Base Borden, a DE pipe and drum band from Angus — and maybe three dozen members of the public.

But that special salute signified the start of an afternoon partnership and recognition of all “enlisted MacTier and area” residents who fought for community and country.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous brothers and sisters.

Two nations together, not at war — but against war.

MacTier legion president and District E5 commander Bruce Henn, left, veteran rep Sheila Clayton and District E Commander Rick Preston take the salate on MacTier’s main street at the start of the parade.

After a drum circle chant by the Good Spirit drummers and with the formal parade party at attention — with spectators at ease — Moose Deer First Nation elder Shirley Lovett performed a smudging ceremony.

Keira Richard, wearing a bright orange ‘Every Child Matters’ t-shirt, passed around the ceremonial medicinal  smudging pot to allow everyone to wash themselves in the smoke and to cleanse and connect with the spirit and Creator.

Then following the skirl of the pipes, the drummers piled their bass drum and snares in a three-layer altar upon which the colour guard’s legion and Canadian flags were ceremoniously draped.

Preston and Sheila Clayton, representing veterans, laid a wreath at the cenotaph. Bugler Dave Burgess was on deck playing God Save the King, O Canada, the Last Post and reveille. A piper played the lament.

The colours withdrawn, the drums remounted, the parade marshal dismissed all parties and Shawanaga dancer Salina Nichol performed a native dance, accompanied by the Good Spirit Drummers.

The troops then repaired into the branch for lunch and libations.

Another tradition kept alive with battlefield respect and recognition honoured once more.

O Canada, what a day it was.

The Beaver Valley Pipe and Drums marched the veterans, legion members, cadets and regular forces members to Branch 507 on Elizabeth Street.
More than 100 veterans, legionairres and members of the military atteneded the peaceful service and ceremony at Branch 507.
Moose Point elder Shirley Lovett prepares for smudging ceremony before service.
Keira Richard takes smudging pot around to more than 100 attending the MacTier remembrance.
The opening ceremony brought people together as a way of healing.
Members of the public got to wash themselves in the smoke and to cleanse and connect with the spirit and Creator.
The Spirit Drummers did two chants during the more than an hour-long service and ceremony.
Legion veterans and members came from across Muskoka to honour their comrades.
Drummers present cushions to kneel on at their altar to the side of the cenotaph.
The final snare drum is stacked on the third level ready for the colour presentation.
The parade marshal layers the District E legion flag on the top drum, followed below by Canada’s flag in the traditional service.

Sheila Clayton and Rick Preston present a wreath a the recently renovated cenotaph in MacTier.
Bugler Dave Burgess plays the Last Post as the parade marshal salutes and soldiers stand at attention in respect.
A lone piper plays the lament between the Last Post and Reveille.
Shawanaga’s Salina Nichols prepares for her Indigenous dance at the end of the outdoor ceremonies.

Good Spirit Drummers gather after performing three times in MacTier.
Army cadet Jayden Halid shows her pride hair-do while eyeing the drum cakes stacked on the dessert table.
Regular forces members pose for a team photo inside the hall before heading back to Base Borden, west of Barrie.

The Drumhead Service paraded from the MacTier arena to the legion.

A District E band from Angus led the way to Branch 507 for Sunday’s service.

The Spirit Drummers from Moose Point First Nation performed three chants.

Shawanaga’s Salina Nichols ended the afternoon outdoors with a colourful interpretive dance.


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