11 November

Armistice Day Scene Outside Buckingham Palace, 1918

Signing of Armistice Ends World War I

November 11, 1918, is still a vivid memory to many Canadians who fought in World War I. Germany had asked for an armistice, and hostilities ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year. The toll of dead and wounded since August, 1914, was the worst the world had ever known. Not counting civilians, more than 8,000,000 had been killed, 21,000,000 wounded, and 7,800,000 had been listed as captured or missing.

Canada's contribution had been amazing, especially for a nation of 12 million. More than 595,000 had enlisted, of whom 422,000 served overseas. Casualties were 35,684 killed in action, 12,437 dead from wounds. Another 155,839 were wounded, many of whom died later, or suffered for years.

Canadian troops played a great part in the final drive that forced the Germans to stop fighting. It began on August 8, 1918, which General Erich Ludendorff later called "the black day of the German Army." By October, the Canadians had suffered 16,000 casualties but had taken Cambrai, Douai, and Mons. When they were rested on October 26, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig said they had covered themselves and their country with glory.

The armistice was signed at 11 a.m. Paris time, when most people in Canada were still asleep. They were awaked by the sounds of bells ringing and whistles blowing. There were joyful celebrations in every community throughout the day. The centre of rejoicing in the English-speaking world was London, England. King George V and Queen Mary appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to acknowledge the cheers of a huge crowd that had gathered outside. There was no radio in those days, but the king spoke from the balcony and said: "With you I rejoice. Thank God for the victories the allied armies have won, which have brought hostilities to an end. Peace is in sight."

Following World War II, the name "Armistice Day" was changed to "Remembrance Day", and the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month now commemorates all the men and women who died for Canada in the Boer War, two World Wars, the Korean War and in other actions for the United Nations.


11 November

-1813    Americans were defeated at Crysler's Farm.

-1872    A railway was completed between Halifax and Saint John, New Brunswick.

-1916   The Duke of Devonshire became Governor-General of Canada.

             Sir Sam Hughes resigned as Minister of Militia (see February 14)