We woke early on Remembrance Sunday, having planned on going to the Old City Hall for the service, Colour Parties march parade and laying of the wreaths. We may not be in England today, like normal, but we still wanted to make sure we paid our respects to the fallen heroes.
So after a little lie in bed taking in the view, and a quick cup of tea to prepare us for the day, we were ready for the off.
The walk to the City Hall only took about 10 minutes, meaning we got there with plenty of time to find a space. We stood halfway back from the cenotaph, in a crowd of already a couple of hundred people. The City Hall building is beautiful, an old building in amongst all the brand new glass and modern facades. It really stands out and is very impressive.
The police came and parted the crowd right in front of us to make room for the troops to make their way through and we all stood quietly waiting.
Soon we heard the band start to play and the Parties started to march past, dressed smartly in their uniforms, solemn and proudly holding their flags aloft.
They orderly took their places in front of the City Hall just before 11.00am.
At exactly 11 O Clock the tower bells tolled, and 3 Canadian Air Force planes performed a flyover. The last post was played on the bugle to indicate the start of the two minutes silence.
Heads were bowed, children were quiet and everyone remembered the sacrifices young men and women all across the world made in the name of peace.
I feel I have to mention the group of protesters who tried to make their voices heard during this time. Everyone has the right to have an opinion and fight for something they believe in, but my personal thoughts on this are that there is a time and a place to air those grievances, and during a respectful silence for people who have lost their lives to guarantee the freedom of these very people IS NOT the time to do it. Luckily, Police and security were on hand to remove them. Respect is earned, and the soldiers for whom this day is about earned ours. A group of rebellious loudmouths who think they are helping the troops, when in fact they are dishonouring them, deserve no further acknowledgement from me, never mind respect. I just wanted to express my opinion on the matter and shall leave it there.
So, back to the service. Hymns were sang and the Mayor of Toronto made a speech.
A couple of young Cadets read out In Flanders Fields beautifully, which brought a lump to my throat. The poem always has that effect on me, and the two teenagers done a fantastic job, you could just hear the nerves and feeling in their voices but they had quite obviously practised a lot, and done a great job.
God save the Queen was then sang, and the guards marched their way back along the parade route. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up throughout the whole song. It is very strange not to be in England for Remembrance Day, but the City of Toronto done a fantastic job and I am proud to have been a part of it.
I was also very pleased to see a real life Mountie, who came to lay a wreath on behalf of the Royal Canadian Mountain Police. Very smart.
The cenotaph was covered in wreaths that had been laid during the service, and we went over to have a look before heading away from the service.
After the service, we both thought it would be a nice touch to find a British pub and have a drink. We came across the Duke of Richmond just across the street and went inside.
We had a couple of drinks here, and although these were supposed to be patriotic pints, Phil couldn’t resist trying some Moosehead lager. We had dinner and enjoyed the place. The staff were great, very attentive and made sure we had enough to eat and drink all the time we were there. This is exactly the kind of service hungry and thirsty patrons such as ourselves really appreciate!
We watched the football, obviously! And kept ourselves up to date with the scores from home 😀
With full bellies, we decided to go shopping. You know what they say, never go shopping with an empty tummy or you will spend a fortune. Phil is, what we might politely call, frugal with his money, so this idea made a lot of sense to him!
Funnily enough, for any Still Game fans out there, Phil has acquired the nickname Tam, after the tight old git in the show, and while in the supermarket we happened to chance upon the perfect snack for him…
We hunted down some Heinz spaghetti for fussy old me!
Unfortunately I hate to report that it is absolutely RANK!! Disgusting actually, and totally different from the English spaghetti in every way possible! Luckily for me, my lovely and very patient husband tracked down a shop which sells English food, and is also incidentally, and rather bizarrely, a flower shop! Strange little set up, but ran by a lovely and very helpful couple from Hong Kong and we would highly recommend it for any Brits here in Toronto who are after some home comforts, or any English food lovers. We literally emptied their store of their stock of Spaghetti the following day and filled the cupboards back at home!
Horrible spaghetti aside, the choice of yummy stuff in Canadian supermarkets is pretty good! Very easy to go wild in the aisles!
We managed to spend a fortune and that was before we even found a beer store! It’s isn’t like England where you can buy alcohol in the next aisle to the water and fruit juice, you have to go to a licensed shop to buy it. But worry not readers, we obviously found one and the fridge is now over flowing with beers. Phew!
Back home, we put the shopping away and sat with a cold Coors, reflecting back on our first full day in Toronto together. A very memorable one indeed.
They shall grow not 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.
LEST WE FORGET