St. Paul's Basilica is one of the Catholic churches participating in Bells of Peace at the Archdiocese of Toronto. St. Roch’s, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Helen, and St. Cecilia will also be ringing their bells to mark the anniversary. Photo by Can Pac Swire/Flickr

Bells of Peace will ring to mark 100th anniversary of the end of WWI

  • November 8, 2018

Churches of all denominations across Canada are being asked to participate in the Royal Canadian Legion’s Bells of Peace at sunset on Remembrance Day, Nov. 11.

The Legion is asking any church equipped with bells to mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice which brought an end to the First World War. The houses of worship are asked to ring their bells at 4:56 p.m. in their time zone, 100 times, with an interval of five seconds between tolls, to remember those who sacrificed their lives over the four years the great battles raged on the European battlefields. 

All told, 619,636 Canadians enlisted for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force for the Great War, with 424,000 of them serving overseas. Almost 61,000 of them were killed in action and there were another 138,000 battle casualties. At the time, Canada’s population was just under eight million.

“Bells call us to wake, to pray, to work, to arms, to feast and, in times of crisis, to come together,” said Danny Martin, deputy director corporate services with the Royal Canadian Legion, noting that on the day the armistice was signed, the ringing of church bells erupted across Great Britain to mark the end of four years of bitter war.

“The Bells of Peace initiative is designed to emulate that moment of remembrance in honour of our veterans who served in World
War I.”

The Vimy Foundation, which was founded in 2006 to preserve and promote Canada’s First World War legacy symbolized by the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge in April 1917, is asking churches to ring their bells at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 to mark the end of the war.

The Legion is also requesting schools get involved by having youth search out those that served in the war and place a small Canadian flag on their grave.

The City of Toronto has compiled a list of the more than 20 Toronto churches taking part at its website. Catholic churches among them include St. Roch’s, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Helen, St. Cecilia and St. Paul’s Basilica. 

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