Remembrance Day was observed at outdoor cenotaphs in Lakeland communities last week.

For the second consecutive year, uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 restrictions made it impossible to plan large indoor gatherings. But whereas last year the Royal Canadian Legion asked the public to observe the day in their homes, people were welcome this year to attend the outdoor gatherings.

Bonnyville Branch 183 held an “old-school” Remembrance ceremony on the street outside their building. Approximately 200 people showed up to honour the fallen.

Cold Lake and St. Paul branches kept their ceremonies low-key. Still each service attracted 100 or more spectators.

“It went as well as can be expected for being such a short ceremony,” said Todd Rorke, president of Cold Lake Branch 211. “There must have been a good 150 people out on the street watching. And of course, we had all our dignitaries there from the government.

“We’re always happy to see some participation, as far as the restrictions allow.”  

St. Paul Branch 100 past president Jim Blair was equally pleased with the ceremony in St. Paul. He said the Legion members “fuelled up” with a pancake breakfast before assembling outside and marching to the cenotaph. About a dozen members paraded, he said, while older members and those with limited mobility met them at the cenotaph.

He was also pleased with support from the RCMP, who had 20 members in attendance. Blair said the turnout of about 100 spectators shows that Canadians still care about honouring veterans and war dead.

“It was way more than I thought it was going to be for something not advertised as a public event,” he said. 

Customarily, the public crowds into Legion halls after the ceremonies on Remembrance Day, but those activities were also curtailed. The Bonnyville branch opened its doors for a small reception with proof of vaccine required for entry, and hosted a chili supper later in the day.

Second World War veteran Willie MacGregor laid the first wreath at the Bonnyville ceremony on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. JEFF GAYE

Bonnyville

Approximately 200 people turned out in Bonnyville to remember the fallen. JEFF GAYE

St. Paul

Legion members met for a pancake breakfast before parading to the cenotaph. SUBMITTED

Cold Lake

Military and civilian dignitaries joined the members of Branch 211 at the Cold Lake cenotaph. SUBMITTED