Royal Canadian Legion branches across Canada held memorial parades in honour of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday. The Legion’s national headquarters, or Dominion Command, sent out the instruction to branches through their respective provincial/territorial commands.

Local parades were held in Cold Lake and St. Paul.

Cold Lake Branch 211’s president Todd Rorke said it was fitting to honour Canada’s—and the United Kingdom’s—longest-reigning monarch.

“Seventy years plus, that’s a long time on the throne. She did a lot of good things for the Commonwealth and across the board,” Rorke said. “Every part of the world has been touched by Queen Elizabeth. Everyone knows her and most hold a respect for her.”

Rorke noted that it was the Queen’s grandfather George V who bestowed Royal status on the Legion, and the Queen herself was a veteran of the Second World War.

“We also have to remember she was not only our sovereign, she was a veteran because she served in the ambulance corps in the Second World War. Even before she took the throne, she was serving in the ambulance corps,” Rorke said.

The Cold Lake ceremony was simple, with two minutes of silence observed at 11:00, as it was at Legion ceremonies in every time zone across the country. Legion personnel and mayor Craig Copeland laid a wreath on behalf of Canada. The Knights of Columbus were also on hand to lay a wreath. 

In St. Paul, Branch 100 members marched from the Legion to the cenotaph and conducted a similar brief ceremony. A wreath was laid in tribute to the Queen, and those in attendance were invited to deposit their poppies on a white cross.

Rorke said the Queen was loved and respected by Canadian veterans, and that she “backed up the Legion” from the time she acceded to the throne in 1952. 

“We can only do the right thing and honour her for what she has done during her long reign,” he said.

Branch 211 president Todd Rorke, 1st vice-president Pat Henderson, and Cold Lake mayor Craig Copeland bring a wreath to the cenotaph. JEFF GAYE