For the past 60 years running The Strachan Avenue Military Cemetery on Garrison Road has played host to one of the city’s most unique and solemn Remembrance Day services in the city.
The Strachan Avenue Military Cemetery, adjacent to the grounds of Historic Fort York, is the second major burial ground associated with the Toronto Garrison and Fort York.
“The burial grounds languished for many years and it was the Independent Order of the Daughter of the Empire (IODE) and the City of Toronto that championed rehabilitating it and they did in 1922,” explained Kevin Hebib, Program Development officer at Fort York.
A Remembrance Day Service has been held annually at the Strachan Avenue Military Cemetery since 1952 and that tradition continues this year, with a special War of 1812 Bicentennial twist.
“It has always been a slightly different service than the other one at the cenotaph or the civic centres,” Hebib said.
Because it was one of Toronto’s first military burial grounds from the 19th Century and it is on the actual Battle of York battleground, it brings a unique feeling to the ceremony there.
“What I really like about it is that we are able to bring a different level of pageantry to it because we are an 1812 site,” Hebib said. “It has a historic flair to it.”
The ceremony takes place on Sun. Nov. 11. The processional begins promptly at 10:45 and at 11 a.m. the service begins. It follows the regular order of service for a military service with ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’ played.
The service is a little bit different because it honours all soldiers of the Toronto Garrison who fell in numerous conflicts over the years, including the War of 1812, the Rebellion Crises, the Crimean War, the Northwest Rebellion, the South African (Boer) War; the two World Wars, and recent conflicts around the globe.
“We have an amped up 1812 twist or component this year,” Hebib said. “We have some additional 1812 units coming.”
But the real highlight of the event, Hebib said, will be the Toronto Police Service Mounted Unit (TPSMU) who will parade with their two 1812-named horses, Brock and Tecumseh.
“Tecumseh wears a very special blanket with Toronto’s Aboriginal (Peacekeeping) Unit emblazoned on it and we have members of the Toronto Aboriginal Unit coming as well,” Hebib said.
The blanket was presented to Toronto Police Service by members of Toronto’s Aboriginal Community Consultative Committee.
Following the service there is free admission the Fort York Grounds and complimentary tours until 1 p.m. Also guest speaker Janice Nickerson, Author of “York’s Sacrifice: Militia Casualties in the War of 1812”, will offer a talk at noon.