The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 35 no 5, November 2023. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
By Mary Holmes
Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the official end of the World War I hostilities on November 11, 1918. Canadians pause on this day in silence at 11:00 a.m. to remember those who served in all conflicts. The official Canadian national ceremonies are held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on this day.
Without a cenotaph or ceremony of its own, Cantley has been participating in the Chelsea Remembrance Day ceremony since 2017. The annual ceremony at the Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery is unique. Here, in 1986, the Gatineau Valley Historical Society (GVHS) discovered the grave of Private Richard Rowland Thompson.
In 1899, Private Thompson enlisted with the 2nd Special Service Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment as a soldier in the South African War. He risked his own life to save the lives of comrades under intense fi re on at least two occasions. For his heroism, he received the Queen’s Scarf. Queen Victoria herself crocheted eight scarves to be presented for extreme gallantry to regular soldiers. Private Thompson, of the Canadian Forces Health Services, was the only Canadian to receive this honour. Though his funeral was conducted with full military honours, Thompson’s deeds and grave were forgotten for fifty years until the GVHS acquired and restored the cemetery and erected a cairn in his memory.
The GVHS then organized the Remembrance Day ceremony at Pioneer Cemetery for over thirty years. In 2019 the Municipality of Chelsea took over ownership of the Cemetery, located at 587 route 105, north of chemin Church, Chelsea, and also the responsibility of organizing the Ceremony in 2022. In 2023, it will be held on November 11 at 10:40 a.m. All are welcome to attend.
There is also a ceremony at the Wakefield Cenotaph at 11:00 a.m. located beside the Gatineau River near the intersection of chemin Riverside and chemin de la Vallée-de-Wakefield. A reception hosted by the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 214 will be held following at 27 chemin de la Légion, Wakefield.
The National Wall of Remembrance, Kingston, Ontario – update extracted from their website:
The National Wall of Remembrance will create a single place of remembrance for all Canada’s fallen heroes to honour them in all conflicts on record starting from the earliest. This will not take the place of local cenotaphs or sacred memorials that already exist. It will have two components: a series of panels portraying the various conflicts Canada has engaged in, and a virtual “Wall”, an electronic facility with a search function.
Future site of the National Wall of Remembrance Association, national memorial to the Fallen, is Kingston, Ontario. It will be located on the Kingston waterfront, beside Lake Ontario, to the right of the Murney Martello Tower at St. John A. McDonald Park, on the small patch of land between King Street and the parking lot.
Planning and research started in 2010. In the spring of 2023, there was extensive consultations with Indigenous groups and archeological verification to ensure the suitability of the site. A sod-turning ceremony was held in August 2023.
The Association is anticipating the unveiling to take place on November 11, 2024. Please visit its website: worassociation. ca for more details, to check on progress, offer financial support, or to search a veteran and add information and photos.