Editors Note: This story was updated at 2:16 p.m. to include information released by the City of Prince Albert.
On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent.
The First World War, often referred to as the war to end all wars, saw the mobilization of more than 70 million military personnel from July, 1914 to November, 1918. An estimated nine million combatants, and seven million civilians died as a result of the war, making it one of the deadliest conflicts in history.
It has been 100 years since the armistice that signaled the end of the Great War, and although the men who fought valiantly for our country have all gone, their bravery will not soon be forgotten.
In honour of the 100-year anniversary of the armistice, and in remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, church bells will ring out across the country on Nov. 11, much like they might have 100 years ago.
Prince Albert's Sacred Heart Cathedral will be a cacophony of chimes on Sunday in remembrance of the 100-year anniverary of the armistice that ended the First World War.
Prince Albert’s Sacred Heart Cathedral will be one of many churches throughout the country participating in the ceremony, and will be tolling their bells 100 times over five-second intervals according to Ken Guedo, a parishioner with Sacred Heart.
“I can imagine all the bells in the world would have been ringing on November 11, 1918 because the war was over and I guess this is sort of a re-enactment of that,” Guedo said. “I imagine 100 years ago there would have been millions of happy people in the world because the war was over.”
Guedo added the bells will not technically be rung for the ceremony, rather they will be tolled, which is the striking of a hammer inside the bell instead of the bell being swung. A small team will gather before sunset in the churches bell tower, and will work in unison to ensure the tolling of the bells every five seconds until they complete 100 tolls.
Barry Tkachuk who is currently interning with Sacred Heart while preparing for his ordination to priesthood, told paNOW in an interview that the bells will ring at sunset, with a small team that has been organized to make sure there are no issues.
“We’ve never rang the bells 100 times before, but since we’re tolling them I think it should be doable,” Tkachuk said. “It’s been 100 years, and we just want to call to mind the sacrifice that was given, not only during the First World War but every engagement since.”
The bells located at Sacred Heart Cathedral are some of the last physical bells in the city, according to Guedo.
“These bells were purchased originally in 1894 for the original Sacred Heart Cathedral, which was torn down in 1912 or 1913 I believe,” Guedo said. “The only thing from the original that was saved was these three bells and I believe one of the statues that is above the main entrance … so these bells are 125 years old as of next year.”
The bells will begin to be tolled at sunset on Nov. 11, which according to Tkachuk should be at 5 p.m.
Prince Albert Arts Centre to ring bells for peace
In cooperation with the Prince Albert Royal Canadian Legion, the bells at the Prince Albert Arts Centre, located at 1010 Central Ave., will also toll on Sunday as part of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Bells of Peace initiative.
Bells were used as a celebratory announcement that the war had ended. This was common at the end of both WWI and WWII. The Legion’s intent is to have every bell in every community across Canada ring in unison or independently (within each community) 100 times at sunset.
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