Five local churches will ring their bells one hundred times to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I’s end
BY JENNIFER CHORNLEY
On November 11, bells will ring out in churches throughout Pelham, joining the rest of Canada to mark 100 years commemorating the end of the First World War.
At 4:57 PM, the ringing of 100 bells will emulate the moment in 1918 when church bells across Canada rang out to share the news: the First World War was over.
As the sun goes down, a bell or bells will be rung 100 times in five-second intervals across the municipality to honour the sacrifices of Canadians who served in the 1914-1918 war, and to remember the horrors of war, the cost to society, and the promise of peace.
“We are asking the citizens of Pelham to take a moment to reflect and pay homage to the men and women who served our nation and continue to serve our nation during this time,” said Royal Canadian Legion Branch 613 President Toni McKelvie.
“From our records, seventeen citizens of what was known as ‘Pelham Township’ were either killed or died in service, and another 140 citizens either served overseas or in Canada during this four-year conflict,” she said. “As such, the celebratory bells take on additional meaning for the descendants of these brave individuals who defended our nation.”
At a national level, the Pelham residents were part of the 650,000 who served, close to 66,000 killed, and more than 172,000 wounded in the Great War. Each peal one hundred years later honours those and the countless others who suffered invisible yet painful wounds.
The 17 residents who died or were killed during service were Frank Beale, Reginald Beale, George Couchman, George Drake, Charles Galdart, R. A. Howell, Orville Haist, E. F. Jefferies, William Joyce, Ivan Johnston, James McCaw, Lawrence McLellan, Robert Moody, David Muirhead, Alberta Norgale, Robert Stickles, and William Tyrill.
The sound wave of bells across the nation will help tell a historical journey of Canada’s service and sacrifice during the First World War.
The Talbot Trail Branch reached out to all congregations in the Town of Pelham with an opportunity to participate.
The participating congregations are: Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Fonthill, Fonthill United Church, Fenwick United Church, Saint Ann Roman Catholic Church in Fenwick and First Presbyterian Church of North Pelham.
The Bells of Peace initiative was developed by The Royal Canadian Legion in partnership with the Government of Canada.
“This powerful sound symbolizing peace from coast to coast will allow Canadians to stop, remember and feel the joy that the end of war brought after so much death and destruction,” says Legion Dominion President Thomas D. Irvine.
“It will also be a reflection of the deep respect we hold for our many Veterans who served in the First World War and for those who continue to serve our country today.”
A century ago, celebratory bells rang out across the world to mark the end of the First World War. This November 11, the Peace Tower bells in Ottawa will ring, as will those in Mons, Belgium, the final town liberated by the Canadian Corps in 1918.
“We will honour those who served Canada, past and present,” says Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence. “by ringing these Bells of Peace as symbols of victory, relief and joy on the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. As the bells toll, we will reflect on the Canadian Armed Forces members who continue to defend the peace and freedom we enjoy today, carrying on the tradition of those who have served so bravely since the First World War.”
The ringing will begin in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador and end on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. These two locations in Canada, and others in between, played key roles during the First World War.