A hec­tic Ar­mistice Day in Strat­ford

Strat­ford Cen­tral’s Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­mony re­calls what Nov. 11, 1918, was like lo­cally

The Beacon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - TERRY BRIDGE STAFF RE­PORTER PHO­TOS BY BEA­CON HER­ALD

While staff from Strat­ford’s daily news­pa­per will be busy Sun­day cap­tur­ing lo­cal Re­mem­brance Day cov­er­age, it will be noth­ing like what their coun­ter­parts were tasked with do­ing 100 years ear­lier.

As word be­gan fil­ter­ing out of Eu­rope on Nov. 11, 1918, that the First World War had mer­ci­fully con­cluded, the Strat­ford Daily Her­ald pub­lished an early-morn­ing edi­tion fea­tur­ing a scream­ing all-caps head­line declar­ing an ar­mistice had been signed. Yet it was merely the first of sev­eral edi­tions the lo­cal pa­per put out that day, ac­cord­ing to a pair of Strat­ford Cen­tral high school stu­dents who re­searched the topic for a Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­mony at their school Fri­day morn­ing.

Evan Fortin, who gleaned the facts and pro­duced a pre­sen­ta­tion along with fel­low stu­dent Daisy Gruchy and his­tory teacher Gra­ham Leitch, read out the de­tails in­side a packed gym­na­sium.

“The Her­ald re­leased two ex­tra edi­tions through­out the day in an at­tempt to sat­isfy Strat­ford’s de­sire for more news from the West­ern Front,” he said. “Even­tu­ally the pa­per re­leased a state­ment say­ing there will be no other edi­tion of the Her­ald to­day, the op­er­at­ing staff has been on duty since shortly af­ter 4 (a.m.) this morn­ing and, like truly loyal and pa­tri­otic cit­i­zens, they now want to join the gen­eral cel­e­bra­tion.”

Fortin re­capped how the hec­tic day be­gan.

“Shortly af­ter 4 a.m. lo­cal time, the Grand Trunk shops, which we now know as the Cooper site, blew a loud whis­tle for sev­eral min­utes to wake the town. The Her­ald re­ported, ‘For once in their lives the peo­ple of Strat­ford know what the city looks like at 4 (a.m.),’” he said. “Ac­cord­ing to the Her­ald, many peo­ple had emerged from their houses half-dressed or in their py­ja­mas, chil­dren be­gan parad­ing through the streets bang­ing pots and pans in or­der to wake any­one still in bed.”

Within an hour, around 3,000 peo­ple had gath­ered at city hall and the fes­tiv­i­ties, such as im­promptu con­certs and church ser­vices, con­tin­ued through­out the day, Fortin said.

A mid-af­ter­noon pa­rade was “the largest in the city’s his­tory,” Fortin added.

The 75-minute assem­bly also fea­tured mu­sic teacher Paula Ortelli con­duct­ing the school’s sym­phonic band, con­clud­ing with a col­lab­o­ra­tive per­for­mance along­side the Strat­ford Po­lice Pipes and Drums. Stu­dents Alivia Judge and Ben McTav­ish read let­ters by First World War Huron County solider Tom Pen­rose, and the school’s Dance Cen­tral club per­formed an in­ter­pre­tive dance. tbridge@post­media.com

TERRY BRIDGE/THE

Above: Strat­ford Cen­tral mu­sic teacher Paula Ortelli con­ducts the school’s sym­phonic band while his­toric war pho­tos are shown dur­ing a Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­mony on Fri­day.Left: A 100-year-old clip­ping from the Strat­ford Daily Her­ald pro­claim­ing the end of the First World War is shown dur­ing a Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­mony at Strat­ford Cen­tral on Fri­day.

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