A Remembrance Day without the pageantry in the Ottawa Valley

ALMONTE, ONT. — In the lead up to a Remembrance Day that is set to be different than any other, people and communities throughout the Ottawa Valley are still finding ways to honour and remember Canada’s veterans.

At the Home Hardware in Almonte, Bill and Stella Lawrence have been setting up a Remembrance Day display for 10 years. As former service members, their display started out as a few personal items on a small table. Over the years it’s now grown into a community museum of sorts.

“Each year as soon as we put it up, people in the community start bringing their family pictures in,” says Lawrence. “I think the younger crowd is losing the idea of Remembrance Day, and we’re just trying to promote that a veteran is not just somebody from a war, it’s anybody in uniform.”

The Lawrences have six generations of service members in their family, allowing them to put together an already impressive display. They say with no parades or ceremonies this year, their display has become more important than ever.

“This year it’s a big impact,” says Lawrence. “There’s been a lot of people coming in and making comments, and not being able to participate in a service is on peoples’ minds too.”

At the Islandview Retirement Residence in Arnprior, the home created a Walk of Honour. It’s a picture tribute to their five veteran residents who all serviced for Canada.

“We decided to do a walk of honour this year because normally our residents at Islandview go to the ceremony at the cenotaph in Arnprior, and of course this year because of the pandemic they are not able to do that,” says Lynn Russett, a retirement counsellor at Islandview.

The retirement home plans to hold a small in-house ceremony for its residents where a bagpiper will play, and prayers, poems, and letters from local school children will be read.

“We love our residents here and we try in every way to celebrate them and to honour them,” says Russett.

Dino Cicci is one of the five residents at Islandview who are featured on the Walk of Honour. Cicci is optimistic the circumstances of the day won’t hinder its importance.

“Tomorrow it will be alright,” ponders Cicci. “I think we’ll have a good celebration, even though it will be with just ourselves.”

The 87-year-old who served in the air force from 1945 to 1979 knows there’s always something over the horizon.

“We’ll celebrate Remembrance Day,” says Cicci. “If we’re still around next year we’ll be celebrating it again, and one of these days we’ll be back like we used to be.”


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