April 21st, 2019

100 rings for Armistice

By Gillian Slade on November 8, 2018.

Doug Heine demonstrates how the church bell is rung Ñ something he has done for decades. The bell at St. Barnabas Church will be rung 100 times Sunday at sunset to honour the end of the First World War.--NEWS PHOTO GILLIAN SLADE


Bells across Canada will be ringing out Sunday in honour of the Armistice centenary and the establishment of the Royal Canadian Legion, and in Medicine Hat, St. Barnabas Church will ring its bell 100 times starting at sunset, 4:43 p.m.

It will be like a wave of sound from bells across the country starting at sunset on the East Coast and expanding across the country, said Lynne Windjack, St. Barnabas Anglican Church.

“The bells of Canada from sea to shining sea,” she said.

The bell at St. Barnabas is more than 100 years old dating back to between 1886 and 1912. It is more than three feet high and a number of young people will be involved on Sunday to accomplish the task of 100 rings. On Wednesday afternoon Doug Heine, demonstrated the ringing of the bells using a thick cord accessible inside the historic church.

Traditionally church bells were rung prior to church services and to announce anything important including weddings. It was also used historically to raise an alarm about a fire. The sound can send chills down your spine, said Windjack.

Bells had gone silent in Europe during the First World War. When the Armistice was signed bells rang out announcing the good news of the end of the war.

In many places throughout Europe bells will ring out again on Sunday at 11 a.m. marking the 100 anniversary of the end of the First World War. The decision was made in Canada to ring bells — The Bells of Peace — at sunset to honour not only the Armistice but the establishment of the Royal Canadian Legion that was “born from the ashes of the First World War”, according to an official press release by Veterans Affairs Canada and the Legion. It will also recognize and honour veterans who served in the First World War and remember the sacrifices they made in the name of Canada.

“Our hope is all who hear the bells will stop and focus on the loss and sacrifice both on the battlefield and at home,” says the press release.

About 619,636 Canadians enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and close to 424,000 served overseas. Nearly 61,000 died during the war and 172,000 were wounded. Many returned home but were broken in mind and body, says the press release.

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