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Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Wreath-laying ceremony Monday commemorates life of Queen
Queen Elizabeth, shown in a 2012 portrait, died Sept. 8 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
Queen Elizabeth, shown in a 2012 portrait, died Sept. 8 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Elli Gerra/Wikimedia Commons

Book of condolences placed at town hall for residents to offer their sympathies

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Legion is holding a solemn service Monday to commemorate the life and 70 years of service of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

The Legion service, at 11 a.m. at the Queen Street cenotaph, is part of an official day of mourning across the country, declared by the Legion’s Dominion Command.

NOTL branch 124 president Allan Howse said “everyone in the community is invited and welcome to come out and pay their respects” to the Queen.

A single commemorative wreath will be laid by a Legion member, Howse said in an interview.

The Queen’s funeral takes place earlier that day at Westminster Abbey in London.

Meanwhile, at the Town of NOTL offices in Virgil, a book of condolences has been placed in the front lobby for residents to extend their sympathies.

It will be there until Sept. 19, after which it will be sent to Buckingham Palace, the town said in an announcement.

The Niagara-on-the-Lake wreath ceremony “will be similar to our Remembrance Day service,” Howse said.

While there won’t be the usual parade from Market Square, on Monday Legion members and veterans will form up on Queen Street and proceed to the cenotaph, he said.

“Any other veterans living in town who want to parade with us are invited to do so,” he said.

The service will be led by Howse and branch padre Sheldon Kofsky.

Since the Queen’s death last Thursday, Legion members and people in the community have been sharing stories and reminiscing about her long reign.

Howse’s own story revolves around his father, Percy, who helped organize a parade for when the Queen and Prince Philip visited NOTL in 1973 to celebrate the dedication of the Shaw’s Festival Theatre.

“The parade was so big they had to use the soccer field to organize it because every community organization in town wanted to be in it. So, he and three assistants from the Legion led the parade” out to Fort George.

Afterward, Percy and his wife Edna were “greatly honoured” to join the royal couple for the large dinner gathering at the Pillar and Post, as well as the  festival’s performance of  George Bernard  Shaw’s “You Never Can Tell” later.

That royal visit also prompted the paving of Queen’s Parade in NOTL, which had been a gravel road until then, Howse said.

He noted another NOTL Legion connection to the monarch: the branch’s honorary president, Victoria Cross recipient Maj. B.H. Geary, a First World War veteran, was the sergeant-at-arms for the Ontario Legislature when a young Queen Elizabeth visited in the 1950s.

The branch has a commemorative photo hanging in the club room.