Canada's war dead honoured

Solemn ceremonies were held across the country and as far away as Afghanistan and South Korea to remember Canada's war dead on Thursday.

Harper takes part in Remembrance Day ceremonies in Seoul

Solemn ceremonies were held across the country and as far away as Afghanistan and South Korea to remember Canada's war dead on Thursday.

This Nov. 11, honouring the men and women who died fighting for their country was different in a key way. For the first time, the day was marked without any surviving veterans of the First World War.

Veterans watch Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa Thursday. ((CBC))

It was also the first for the Armed Forces' new commander-in-chief, Gov. Gen. David Johnston. He presided over a Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa under a cloudless sky before a crowd of more than 30,000 people.

Veteran Neil Connor was in Ottawa for the ceremonies and recalled being badly injured after his plane was shot down over Germany during the Second World War.

Connor, now 92, was the navigator of a Halifax Bomber when he made his 14th fateful flight over enemy territory. He had to bail out between the aircraft's propellers, which cut off his leg, as well as the heads of two other men.

"I ended up in a German hospital, but they treated me very well. I got out a month before the end of the war when the Durham Light Infantry came through the village," he said.

In Newfoundland, a monument honouring both past and present was unveiled during ceremonies in Conception Bay South. It includes two bronze statues, one depicting a Blue Puttee soldier from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of the First World War and the other, a present-day female soldier.

In Toronto, the city's subways, streetcars and buses came to a halt to mark two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. ET.

Quebec's largest ceremony was held at McGill University in Montreal, on the lower field, where soldiers gave a 21-gun salute.

Ceremonies honouring Canada's war dead were also held abroad.

Relatives of fallen soldiers were among more than 200 people who gathered at the cenotaph at Kandahar Airfield. Flags were lowered to half-mast and wreaths were placed in honour of the 152 Canadians killed in Afghanistan since 2002.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes part in a Remembrance Day ceremony at the Korean War Memorial in Seoul. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

The commander of the Canadian mission in Kandahar, Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner told the crowd it is worth recalling that the soldiers being honoured died for the "common cause of freedom and human decency."

"It is important that we take the time to mark this day, especially here in Afghanistan," Milner said. "[It is] a place which is so close to the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who fought in this theatre."

Lt.-Col. Doug Claggett, the chief of staff for Canada's Task Force Afghanistan, welcomed the families to the base.

"It's obviously hard for them, but the fact is they are able to come over here and meet the serving soldiers," he said. "This is our way to extend our thanks to their sacrifice."

Harper breaks from G20 talks for solemn ceremony

Prime Minister Stephen Harper marked Remembrance Day in Seoul, where he's attending the G20 summit. He placed a wreath at the Korean War Memorial in honour of the 516 Canadian soldiers who lost their lives in fighting from 1950 to 1953.

"Today we honour and remember those members of the Canadian Forces who fought in one of the toughest wars in our history, to defend South Korea against an oppressive communist invader," Harper said in a statement. "Our forces fought bravely alongside our allies to defend South Korea and played a pivotal part in ending the hostilities."

With Harper in South Korea, Environment Minister John Baird will represent the federal government at the national ceremony.

The ceremony will include all the traditional rituals, including a flypast, and similar rites will play out at cenotaphs large and small across the country.

With files from The Canadian Press