BOW VALLEY – On the 11th minute of the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, we give a moment of silence.
It is a tradition that is more than a century old and one communities in the Rocky Mountains hold dear, as organizers prepare for the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies across the valley.
"It is in remembrance for our veterans that fought for our freedoms and it is important to keep those histories alive," said Bruce McTrowe, chairman of the Banff Legion's poppy campaign.
Born 101 years ago as a way to commemorate the armistice agreement that ended the First World War on Nov. 11, 1918 at 11 a.m., it began a tradition for Canadians to give a moment of silence to honour and remember the more than 2.3 million men and women who have served, and continue to serve the country through times of war, conflict and peace, while also honouring the more than 118,000 Canadians who died in the line of duty.
Out of the millions who served, between Banff, Canmore and Bankhead, in 1915 The Crag and Canyon estimated more than 10 per cent of the town's populations enlisted for the First World War with records showing 330 men from Banff and Bankhead enlisting, and 52 from Banff and eight from Bankhead killed overseas.
Former president of the Banff Legion and the poppy campaign chairman for the last four years, McTrowe explained how the Second World War saw the highest enlistment rate per capita with 411 enlisted.
"This is why we have the freedoms we have today," McTrowe said.
It is why residents across the Bow Valley display their poppies with pride.
While the poppies are a symbol for Canadians to never forget, the monies donated towards the Poppy Trust Fund also have significance, as the funds go directly back into the community where the money is collected.
Local Legions provide financial assistance and support to veterans, including Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP, and their families who are in need, including but not limited to, grants for food, heating costs, clothing, prescription medication, medical appliances and equipment, essential home repairs and emergency shelters or assistance, housing accommodations and care facilities, comforts for veterans and their surviving spouses who are hospitalized and in need, accessibility modifications to assist veterans with disabilities, and funding for veteran transition programs that are directly related to the training, education and support needs of veterans and their families.
The campaign, which only runs for two weeks, takes months of preparation, McTrowe explained and last year the Poppy Trust Fund in Banff raised approximately $17,000.
While other communities have implemented theft-proof poppy boxes, McTrowe was happy to report it is something Banff has not had to utilize so far.
Poppies can be purchased by donation at various locations, including local Legions and gas stations, in municipalities across the Bow Valley.
Remembrance Day Ceremonies
10:15 a.m. Parade begins to form up in front of the Legion
10:30 a.m. Parade departs from Legion for the Banff Elementary School
10:45 a.m. Parade arrives to the school for 11 a.m. service
11:30 a.m. Parade forms up on Big Horn Street – departs using southbound lanes of Banff Ave, crossing over at Buffalo Street to the Legion
11:45 a.m. Laying of wreaths at Legion
12:30 p.m. Banff Avenue northbound lane between the bridge and Buffalo St. reopens
Tour the Old Banff Cemetery and explore the history of wartime Banff, including the stories of hardship and heroism, citizens and soldiers. Organizers are encouraging attendees to dress warmly. Those interested can meet at 1 p.m. the Old Banff Cemetery, 604 Buffalo St.
9:30 a.m. Parade forms up at Canmore Legion
9:45 a.m. Parade moves off to Lawrence Grassi Middle School
10:00 a.m. Public Remembrance Day Service (LGMS gymnasium)
10:40 a.m. Parade reforms and moves off, returning to Legion cenotaph
11:00 a.m. Act of Remembrance
Buses are available to LGMS and the Field of Honour, Canmore Cemetery
Reception to follow inside Canmore Legion
– free for veterans, members and spouses and $10 per person for the public
2 p.m. Service inside the Royal Canadian Legion, BR. #179
Wreath laying ceremony
5 p.m. Dinner with ham, scalloped potatoes, veggie and a bun – tickets for adults $10.50, seniors and children $9.50