Canada’s Fallen, Forever Remembered

Every day at 11:00 a.m., a member of the House of Commons Protective Service Staff enters the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower, located on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, to perform the same simple yet solemn task – turning the pages in the Books of Remembrance.

There are seven such books housed under protective glass, recording the names, written by hand, of Canadians who have lost their lives in military service since 1884 – more than 118,000 names in all. While you can view the books in person in Ottawa, Canadians can also participate in making this record as complete and vivid as possible.

The Seventh Book of Remembrance, meant to commemorate those who’ve given their lives “In the Service of Canada” (as the book is called) for generations to come, was introduced on November 11, 2005. It holds the names of those men and women who’ve fallen in service since 1947 (excluding the Korean War, which has its own book).

The names of 1,566 members of the Canadian Forces have been entered into the Seventh Book of Remembrance to date. “But we know there are gaps,” says Janice Summerby of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).

Canadians can search all of the Books of Remembrance at the VAC website and in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

For a name to be inscribed in the Seventh Book of Remembrance, the death of a Canadian Forces member must be attributable to military service in Canada or abroad. That includes those who die in times of conflict or during peacetime training exercises, peacekeeping deployments or other military duty. Members who die within two years of leaving military service, and whose death is attributable to their service, may also be eligible for inclusion in the book.

How to Add to the Seventh Book

Canadians with information on someone who should be included in the Seventh Book of Remembrance can e-mail [email protected], or contact Veterans Affairs Canada, Canada Remembers, Seventh Book of Remembrance Project, 66 Slater St., 17th Floor, Room 1711, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0P4.

The more information that’s provided to the VAC, the easier it is to verify the individual’s eligibility for the Seventh Book of Remembrance, says Summerby. That includes an individual’s name, service number, date of death, and any other pertinent information related to their service history.

Besides the raw data, Summerby says that VAC welcomes digitized images of photos, letters, postcards and other memorabilia that can be included in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial. Canadians have submitted over 54,000 items to date (check details and instructions on the VAC website.)

“It’s a way to help bring these people to life, so they’re more than just statistics,” says Summerby. “The books and virtual memorial serve an archival and historic purpose, but they’re also a personal memorial. These individuals will forever be remembered.”