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Law Society of Ontario Remembrance Day

Lest we forget


Remembrance Day 2020 Virtual Commemoration
While we are unable to proceed with the LSO’s traditional Remembrance Day Service at Osgoode Hall, we no less honour all those who served, and pay tribute to those in the legal professions. LSO benchers gathered online to pay tribute and remember in an online ceremony.  The video to the LSO’s commemorative service is available to watch online.

We also commemorate the participation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to military service in Canada. We thank and honour Indigenous peoples in uniform for their contributions and sacrifices. 

Honouring those who served
Up until this year, each year since 1956, the Law Society has held a Remembrance Day service at Osgoode Hall.  The Treasurer and benchers honour members of the legal profession and law students we lost during military service and from causes related to their involvement, in the First and Second World Wars. One hundred and fifteen lawyers and student members of the Law Society of Upper Canada, as the Law Society of Ontario was known then, gave their lives as a result of the First World War, and 51 perished in the Second World War.

JG Bole Photo

Lt. J. Gordon Bole, 1890-1918  
Called to the Bar Feb. 1917
Enlisted in the Canadian Machine Gun Corps, 2nd Battalion 

Members of the legal profession in Ontario have a tradition of military service dating back to the early days of settlement1 .  For instance, members of the legal profession served in the militia during the War of 1812, as military service was compulsory for adult men in Upper Canada.  The Remembrance Day service is intended as a tribute to those who sacrificed so much to ensure our freedom during the two World Wars. 

The Memorials
Osgoode Hall is home to two war memorials.  The Great Library is the site of the First World War memorial, which was unveiled in 1928 to honour the 115 lawyers and law students who gave their lives as a result of the War.  The memorial, about seven feet high, depicts a naturalistic draped figure in white Carrara marble.  The names of those members of the profession and law students who died serving the country, are erected on a wall behind the sculpted figure.  
 

The World War I Memorial at the Great Library
The World War I Memorial at the Great Library

Members of the legal profession responded to serve their country again by enlisting for active service during the Second World War.  Ultimately, we lost fifty one members of the profession during the war and shortly after due to causes related to their involvement in the conflict.

In 1951, a memorial to honour those members who had lost their lives as a result of the Second World War, was placed in the lower Rotunda of Osgoode Hall.  The memorial, inspired by “For Your To-Morrow We Gave Our To-Day” poem, depicts a woman looking upward to a baby held in her up-stretched arm, symbolizing hope for the future through the sacrifice of those who fell.
 

The World War II Memorial at the lower Rotunda
The World War II Memorial at the lower Rotunda

For more information on the two World War memorials, please click here.

For more information on the Memorial Honour Roll and the 115 lawyers and law students who lost their lives in the First World War, please click here.
 

The Ceremony
1956 Remembrance Day Service NoticeEach year since 1956, with the exception of this current year, the Law Society Remembrance Day Service has alternated between the two war memorials. The ceremony is attended by benchers, members of the judiciary and the profession, and the wider public.

The Treasurer provides welcoming remarks and uses this opportunity to also acknowledge National Aboriginal Veterans Day, a memorial occasion observed in Canada in recognition of Indigenous contributions to military service and officially marked on November 8.

Following the Treasurer’s remarks, along with the benchers, the Treasurer reads the Rolls of Honour.  The names of lawyers and law students who perished as a result the wars are read aloud.  
 

The Law Society’s Remembrance Day Ceremony in November 1998
The Law Society’s Remembrance Day Ceremony in November 1998

Following the reading of Rolls of Honour, the Treasurer places a wreath before the memorial.  A bugler sounds the Last Post and two minutes silence follow. The bugler then sounds Reveille and the service closes with the saying of the Lord’s Prayer.
 

The Law Society’s Remembrance Day Ceremony in November 2008
The Law Society’s Remembrance Day Ceremony in November 2008

In 2014, the Law Society held an honorary Call to the Bar for the group of students who gave their lives in First World War, as part of a special Remembrance Day ceremony to commemorate the Centenary of the outset of the First World War. The special ceremony was attended by family members of the fallen law students and each received an honorary Call to the Bar certificate bearing the name of their fallen relative. 

Remembrance Day 2014: Honorary Call Ceremony to commemorate WWI Centenary
Remembrance Day 2014: Honorary Call Ceremony to commemorate WWI Centenary

In 2017, an honorary Call for the 18 law students who fought and died as a result of the Second World War was held as part of a special Remembrance Day Service.  The names of the fallen were read aloud to remember and honour each sacrifice.  Family members were presented with a certificate on each soldier’s behalf.
 

Remembrance Day 2017: Honorary Call Ceremony to commemorate WWII law students
Remembrance Day 2017: Honorary Call Ceremony to commemorate WWII law students

For more information on the origins of the Remembrance Day Services at Osgoode Hall, please click here.
 
For more information  on the Honorary Call to commemorate the First World War Centenary, please click here.
 
For more information  on the Honorary Call for Second World War law students, please click here.

Resources
The Law Society’s Archives has made a portion of its collection available online through an online description database, finding aids, and digitalization projects.  For more information on the Law Society, the legal profession and World War I, please click here.


[1] Deidré Rowe Brown. “The War Memorials and the Remembrance Day Service.”  Law Society of Ontario: About LSO - Osgoode Hall and Ontario’s Legal Heritage

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