This morning's ceremonies saw a landmark, which newspapers noted in chorus - it was the first Remembrance Day in over 90 years where no Canadian veteran of the First World War was alive to bear witness. Second World War veterans are also in ever shorter supply; the Globe & Mail pointed out that 1,700 are dying every month, and the day will come soon enough when they will be rare, then absent, from cenotaph ceremonies.
I had this in mind at Prospect Cemetery's dawn Remembrance, annually held at the Edward Luytens-designed memorial in the veteran's section of the cemetery just behind the back wall of my own garden. There was still frost on the grass at this intimate ceremony, held by Earlscourt Branch 65 of the Legion, and a tradition since 1928.
While the Remembrance ceremonies at Old City Hall are the major attraction - four yellow Harvard trainers buzz overhead at Fort York, on their way to a flypast by the Bay St. cenotaph - I can't help but suspect that ceremonies like Fort York's might be the future, as veterans of the two World Wars start to disappear, and more roles for soldiers and volunteers in historical uniforms become necessary to stand in for all those missing men and women. While smaller ceremonies like Prospect Cemetery's will linger as long as families gather to keep their memories alive, the future of Remembrance Day will likely show the gradual transformation of history into pageantry.