Today we will don a poppy to remember the battles and scars of those who went before us far away in cold muck facing their final seconds. The poppy symbol comes from the poem "In Flanders Fields." To think that a field filled with beautiful poppy blooms was the final resting place for so many during the bloodiest battles at Flaunders during that war.
Canadians, British and South Africans will stop what they are doing on the eleventh hour today for two minutes of silence, the moments that the armistice became effective so long ago on November 11, 1918 as the Germans signed the document ending the war.
There have been other wars since. More have died and been scarred so that freedom will live on. There were wars and battles before the Great War that the same can be said of.
In Toronto we have a national treasure from one of those wars, Fort York.
The year was 1793 when Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe commissioned a fort be built along the shore of Lake Ontario. There was no such thing as Toronto at the time but there was a wild new nation below Canada who had recently won their independence from England. The land that would be Toronto needed to be protected. For twenty-one years the fort protected the land until the Battle of Fort York during the War of 1812.
On April 27, 1813 the United States army and navy attacked York coming in from Lake Ontario. The Canadians, really British subjects, knew that they would lose and abandoned the fort but not before setting up the powder magazine to blow up. That blast killed hundreds of American soldiers including General Zebulon Pike. (Pike is said to still haunt the land on which he died)
Today Fort York will host Remembrance Day Services at the Strachan Avenue Military Cemetery on Garrison Common, west of Fort York at 10:45 a.m.