OTTAWA—With five symbolic peals from the HMCS Carleton Naval Bell, The Royal Canadian Legion in partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada launched Bells of Peace in Ottawa on Wednesday, October 24. The initiative honours the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended the fighting in the First World War.
At the setting of the sun on November 11 this year, the Parliament Hill carillon along with spiritual centres, Legion branches and many community locations across the country will ring their bells 100 times.
“This powerful sound symbolizing peace from coast to coast will allow Canadians to stop, remember and feel the joy that the end of war brought after so much death and destruction,” says Legion Dominion President Thomas D. Irvine. “It will also be a reflection of the deep respect we hold for our many veterans who served in the First World War and for those who continue to serve our country today.”
Little Current Legion public relations officer Roy Eaton noted that the United Church in Little Current is seeking volunteers to share the load of ringing the church’s bells 100 times. “If we get 20 people we will each ring five times, if it is 10 we will each ring 10 times,” he said. “We hope to get quite a few people coming out for the ringing of the bells.”
“A century ago, celebratory bells rang out across the world to mark the end of the First World War. This November 11, the Peace Tower bells in Ottawa will ring, as will those in Mons, Belgium, the final town liberated by the Canadian Corps in 1918,” said Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence Seamus O’Regan. “We will honour those who served Canada, past and present, by ringing these Bells of Peace as symbols of victory, relief and joy on the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. As the bells toll, we will reflect on the Canadian Armed Forces members who continue to defend the peace and freedom we enjoy today, carrying on the tradition of those who have served so bravely since the First World War.”
On November 11, 1918, when news of the Armistice broke, churches across Canada responded by spontaneously ringing their bells. Each peal 100 years later will honour the more than 66,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders killed, the over 172,000 wounded and the countless others who suffered invisible yet painful wounds.
As part of the initiative, and leading up to Remembrance Day, youth across Canada are invited to place small Canadian flags on the gravesites of First World War veterans in as many locations around the country as possible.
On November 11 at sundown, the Bells of Peace will ring across the country, beginning in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador and ending on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. These two locations in Canada, and others in between, played key roles during the First World War. Each of them will hold additional commemorative activities on Remembrance Day.
At the Ottawa launch event, Canada Post Corporation also unveiled its newest commemorative stamp, which marks the Armistice with symbolic images of struggle, peace and remembrance: barbed wire, a dove and a poppy.
To learn more about the Bells of Peace initiative visit legion.ca/bellsofpeace and, to learn more about the Armistice 100 stamp, visit canadapost.ca.