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Poppy season hits the Quinte region

Belleville cenotaph [1]

The cenotaph in Memorial Park off Station Street is the end point of the march held on Remembrance Day in Belleville. Photo by Mo Cranker, QNet News

By Mo Cranker [2]

BELLEVILLE – It’s the time of year when everyone is wearing a poppy. What are people in the Quinte region doing to mark Remembrance Day?

On Nov. 11, there will be ceremonies at local cenotaphs and across Canada.

Alexander Craig, a tour guide at the Regimental Museum of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment [3] in Belleville, notes that that the museum has a march to the Belleville cenotaph to honour those who have fallen in wartime.

Craig said the tradition of erecting cenotaphs as memorials to the war dead began overseas during the 1920s as an outlet for people who had lost a loved one to pay their respects and grieve their loss.

“With the amount of wounded and killed in the wars, there was no way for people to grieve, so they built cenotaphs in Britain … Not everywhere could do that, but the idea caught on and eventually in Britain and Canada it became a thing that everyone did locally, just like the poppy.”

The poppy is the most iconic Remembrance Day symbol. Canada’s annual Poppy Campaign [4] is run by the Royal Canadian Legion [5].

The campaign runs from the last Friday in October until Nov. 11 and has two main parts, said Bill Maxwell, co-ordinator of the Legion’s Dominion Command (national headquarters) in Ottawa.

“First, it allows Canadians a chance to wear a poppy in honour of those that have fallen.” Maxwell said. “Second, any donations received go directly towards personal care and housing for veterans.” (You can find a detailed breakdown of how poppy donations are spent at the Legion’s Poppy Manual [6].)

The Legion has been running the campaign since 1926.

Maxwell said the Legion is not driven by a certain fundraising target for the campaign.

“There is no monetary goal. Us meeting our goal would be having 35 million Canadians wearing a poppy come Remembrance Day.”

Craig said that there are a number of events one can take part in on Remembrance Day in Belleville.

A movie called Operation Husky [7], about the landing of Allied Forces (including the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment) in Sicily in the Second World War, will be shown at the Empire Theatre [8] on Sunday, Nov. 8, at 2 p.m. There will also be a book-signing at the event, as author Mark Zuehlke signs copies of Through Blood and Sweat: A Remembrance Trek Across Sicily’s WWII Battlegrounds.

Craig said he is happy with what the city of Belleville does on Remembrance Day and what it has done in the past, but feels more could be done on a provincial level.

“In Ontario, we work through that day. It’s just another workday. I don’t think that is particularly respectful. Most workplaces have the two minutes (of silence), but I don’t think that is enough.”

To mark the start of the poppy campaign, there will be a candlelight walk in Stirling Friday evening from the village’s LCBO store to the cenotaph. It begins at 6 p.m. QNet News will be there.