Bell-ringing to mark 100th anniversary of war’s end

Bells in Weyburn will ring 100 times at sunset on Sunday, Nov. 11, to mark the signing of the Armistice that ended the First World War one century ago.

The bell-ringing will be part of a nation-wide “Bells of Peace” campaign to remember the heavy price paid by Canadians in the war effort, and it will occur in Weyburn at three of the churches.

article continues below

Dale Huff, the sergeant-at-arms for the Weyburn Legion’s Colour Guard, will ring the bell at All Saints Anglican Church, which is the only one of the three with an actual bell to ring. Electronic bells will be rung at St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church and Knox Presbyterian Church, and they will all ring at 5:18 p.m., which is sunset in Weyburn on that day.

The bell-ringing commemorates the ringing of church bells which erupted spontaneously from coast to coast across Canada to mark the end of the Great War on Nov. 11, 1918, “as an outpouring of relief that four years of war had come to an end,” said the BBC News.

Canada’s population was around eight million at the time of the First World War, with around seven per cent of the total population in uniform at some point during the war, along with hundreds of thousands of Canadians working on the home front in support of the war.

A total of 619,636 Canadians enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the war, and of those, 424,000 served overseas, with close to 66,000 Canadians killed during the war, and 172,000 wounded. In addition to these numbers, 1,305 residents from the Dominion of Newfoundland were killed during the war and several thousand were injured.

Of the wounded who survived, 3,461 men and one woman had a limb amputated, and authorities identified over 9,000 Canadians who suffered from “shell shock”. It is estimated that the war affected at least 425,000 families.

The last known surviving veteran of the First World War in Canada, John Babcock, died at the age of 109 in February of 2010.