Bill Andreaschuk, president of the Nelson branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, was surprised by the turnout at this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony at the cenotaph.
“I was thrilled to see the number of people and I was really thrilled to see they tried to keep their distancing and many of them were wearing masks,” he told the Nelson Star. “I know there are no limits to the outdoor gatherings now. However, the people did their very best to keep everybody safe.”
In an attempt not to draw a large crowd, the Legion laid the wreaths in advance, shortened the ceremony, cancelled the parade, streamed the proceedings online, and encouraged people to watch it from home.
Andreaschuk estimated that about 200 people attended the ceremony in person.
Raab Smith, who fought for the U.S. Navy in the first Gulf War, was also surprised by the turnout.
“I thought it would be just a skeleton crew out here,” he said. “I have a lot of shipmates that died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and this brings it home. I got injured but I’m happy I made it. Being here is home.”
Chuck Clarkson, age 96, fought in France in the Canadian Army in the Second World War.
“I think this is fantastic,” he said. “It’s a nice crowd. It’s nice to see a lot of people who remember.”