Annual St. Norbert Remembrance Day ceremony returns to in-person event
The annual St. Norbert Remembrance Day ceremony is returning to an in-person service after two years of being virtual.
In 2008, Art Bloomfield, a longtime St. Norbert resident, was walking his grandson to school when he took a closer look at an overgrown cenotaph in the local cemetery. The monument was a forgotten homage to 13 men who fought and died in the First World War and were connected to the St. Norbert community.
Soon after, Bloomfield and his wife, Wendy, made it their mission to ensure the cenotaph and fallen men were honoured each year on Remembrance Day.
”It’s always been an important day of recognition for him, so when he saw the cenotaph and noticed it was overgrown, he started asking around,” said co-organizer Wendy Bloomfield. “Art just wanted to do something to recognize those men. He’s always said, ‘Those guys should not be forgotten.’”
The first year they organized the service, approximately 50 people attended and the Bloomfields were able to host the post-ceremony reception at their home. The second year had a few more people, and by the third, the service had grown so massively the couple approached the nearby Eagles Club No. 3870 to host the reception.
“It’s just been steadily increasing,” Bloomfield said. “It’s hard to determine how many people attend, but we’ve guessed there has been as much as 450 people. It’s ruled by the weather — if it’s really bitterly cold there’s not so many, but the average crowd is still around 250 to 300.”
Now in its 13th year, the community is looking forward to once again honouring Canada’s veterans at the St. Norbert Cemetery, located on Avenue Ste. Therese, the morning of November 11. The ceremony will begin at 10:45 a.m. and will be followed with a small reception at the Eagles Club (3459 Pembina Hwy.).
“Lots of people have commented on how nice it will be to be back in-person, and it means a lot to them,” Bloomfield said. “I don’t know if you look forward to something that solemn, but they actually look forward to it. The people who have come out keep coming back. It’s part of their routine.”
The formatting and scheduling of this year’s ceremony will be similar to previous years. The band and choir from Collège St. Norbert Collegiate will once again be taking part in the service, and students will read out the names of the 13 men recognized on the cenotaph. Two students will perform In Flanders Fields — a poem by John McCrae — and there will be speakers offering a tribute to francophone and Métis veterans before the wreath laying ceremony begins.
While community members can attend the service in-person, the Bloomfields are looking at hiring somebody to livestream the ceremony.
For more information and to watch the livestream, visit www.stnorbertremembranceday.ca
Those interested in visiting the cenotaph in the St. Norbert Cemetery can pin their poppies on the wreath beginning the morning of Nov. 11 through to Nov. 13.
Kelsey James was a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review in 2021 and 2022.