Irishman John Scanlan was a month shy of 40, quite old to be sent off to war in 1915.
The father of seven joined thousands of soldiers from Manitoba who were shipped out as part of Canada's expeditionary force in the First World War.
One of 7,000 Canadian casualties at the Battle of the Somme, the Irishman never came back.
John Scanlan's grandson, Rick, and his wife, Sandi, made a point of attending a tribute to mark Canada's sacrifice Sunday at The Forks in his honour.
Monday marked 100 years since the start of the First World War, fought from 1914 to 1918, and known in history as the Great War.
The federal government marked the event in cities across Canada.
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper joined dignitaries to pay tribute to Canada's sacrifice over those four years in the muddy trenches of France and Belgium.
More than 66,000 Canadians lost their lives and more than 170,000 were wounded, an enormous contribution from a population of less than eight million in 1914 and a major signpost for the country's national development.
Next year, John Scanlan's descendants will come together for a family reunion in Winnipeg.
The city played a pivotal role in the family's own history as the adopted hometown of the Irish Catholic immigrant who lived with an English Protestant wife and children on Bannerman Avenue a century ago.
"World War Two gets a lot of attention but I don't hear many stories about World War One," said Sandi Scanlan.
"My granddad was killed in World War One, on Sept. 15, 1916, in a town called Flers Courcelette (France). His name is on the Vimy Ridge Memorial, John Joseph Scanlan," Rick Scanlan said.
"I found out he enlisted on Dec. 31, 1914, and was sent overseas on March 12... My father was born that November so he never met his father," Scanlan recalled in the moments before The Forks event.
In Winnipeg at the hour of armistice, a piper clad in a tartan kilt played the traditional lament for fallen warriors.
Parks Canada re-enactors in period costume joined officials to read the declaration of war and Canada's pledge to Britain from the words of century-old telegrams.
Canada entered the First World War as a colony and emerged as a country, dignitaries said.
"Today we're gathered here at the heart of Winnipeg and its meeting place. That's a perfect place to commemorate the start of the First World War," said Marilyn Peckett, Manitoba field unit superintendent for Parks Canada.
Conservative MP from Elmwood and Transcona, Lawrence Toet, said the tribute to the long-ago sacrifice is also a reminder of the devastation war continues to bring today; in Syria, Israel, Gaza and Ukraine.
"It's a natural place for us to commemorate the beginning of this war and remember it and learn from the history of what occurred, and hopefully avoid going through that kind of situation ever again," Toet said.
Toet, whose parents immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands following the Second World War, said his parents faced starvation caused by war.
"We need to have these kinds of events so we can bring it back to the forefront of people's minds and make sure we're remembering what happens when we do forget these kinds of events. I think with all the things happening in the world, having this kind of commemoration is more important than ever," Toet said.