Shot centred on a pathway up the cemetery leading to the event and the crowds, under a blue sky and orange trees.
Crowds gathered at Beechwood Cemetery on a sunny but frigid Remembrance Day for the annual ceremony at the burial ground’s National Military Cemetery. [Photo © Preslea Normand]
Three intersecting roads in the middle of the cemetery, underneath yellow and orange leaves.

From the labyrinth of roads winding their way through history of the city and the nation, people came to pay respects on Thursday, Nov. 11 enduring frozen toes, hands and noses, acknowledging those who have given so much more.

Row upon row: names you’ve never heard of, names that make you think you might have known them. [Photo © Preslea Normand]

The VIP section of the ceremony, a small crowd, in black and white.
Those running the event were happy to invite more veterans than the year prior with a slightly larger VIP section. [Photo © Preslea Normand]

After a year and a half of COVID-19 isolation, and a 2020 ceremony held under strict lockdown measures, the VIP section of this year’s event — chiefly veterans of the Second World War, Korean War and other military missions — had grown slightly. The rest of the crowd, aside from the many masks still being worn in these pandemic times, brought a sense of normalcy as people came together to share similar stories about family connections to war and sacrifice.
Sergeant Culver looks straight into the camera, in full uniform. She wears a blue suit and has slightly red hair tucked under her cap.
Sgt. Pamela Culver stands where the ceremony will take place on the morning of the event. [Photo © Preslea Normand]

Sgt. Pamela Culver, who works with the Canadian Armed Forces Transition Group headquarters, is a finance supervisor in charge of the ceremony at Beechwood. “With it being really small, I’m super honoured because not as many people get to take part,” she said before the ceremony began.
“It’s really amazing to see,” she added, referring to the slow return to larger groups for such events. “For instance, we have a Vet that we were able to invite to sit in … our VIP section, so it’s nice that we can expand our seating area a little bit so that we can do that.”
At the front of the VIP section stand two military personnel in red suits, bright against the pale background. Wreaths have been set in front of a stone monument.
Even without the traditional parade of platoons and bagpipe players, the choir filled the open air. Planes loudly swooshed overhead in a fly-past, guns fired, children’s cries were heard and hushed. A young boy, curious, knelt at one headstone, pointing at the name and asking something not heard, but easily imagined. [Photo © Preslea Normand]
The choir walks away from posing for photographs, taken from afar and behind.
The choir walks away in unison after posing for photographs. [Photo © Preslea Normand]
The planes soar overhead, massive trees loom in the sky, the wings of the planes blending in with the branches.
Jets fly overhead, the wings of the planes blending in with branches, the sound anything but elusive. [Photo © Preslea Normand]

“Last year it was so small, so it was moving, but it didn’t have the same effect when you get the crowd with Remembrance Day,” noted Sgt. Culver. “It’s so moving, so it’s really exciting that we’re progressing toward that.”

A speaker at the podium acknowledged the trials of the pandemic and said: “May today’s ceremony inspire us to work together for a better future.”
Looking down between the rows of headstones, small bushes of red and green against the green grass and fallen red leaves, underneath a hazy morning sky.
For those who could not attend in person, the event was live-streamed. [Photo © Preslea Normand]

Sgt. Culver approved of the accessible nature of the ceremony. “One, it’s being recorded so that you can see it in the future. And then, two, for some people that maybe aren’t able to come because they’re more susceptible to illness, or they’re elderly, or it’s too cold for them, they can still be part of it, and I think that’s important too.”
In black and white, a couple holds hands walking out of the ceremony, in the distance more people are leaving the grounds.
With the event over, people left the grounds with orange and yellow leaves underfoot and the patch of red still on their chests. But memories of the gathering will be kept in mind until this time next year. [Photo © Preslea Normand]