Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Municipality/Province: Ottawa, ON

Memorial Number: 35059-257

Type: Memorial

Location: The Tomb is located on the upper plaza of the National War Memorial, in Confederation Square, at the corner of Elgin Street on Confederation Boulevard

GPS Coordinates: Lat: 45.424036   Long: -75.695497

Photo Credit: Veterans Affairs Canada/Anciens Combattants Canada

On May 23rd 2000, a Canadian Forces aircraft flew to France to bring the Unknown Soldier back to Canada. On board was a delegation consisting of a Canadian Forces contingent including a 45-person guard, a bearer party, and a chaplain. The Veterans Affairs contingent contained veterans and civilians, including two representatives of Canadian youth.

In the meantime, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (which duties include the care of graves of members of the forces of the British Commonwealth who died in the First and Second World Wars) selected an unidentified soldier from a cemetery in the vicinity of Vimy Ridge, the site of a famous Canadian battle of the First World War.

On May 25th, at a ceremony at the Canadian Memorial on Vimy Ridge, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission turned over the remains to Canada. At that point the Canadian Forces took over responsibility for the safekeeping and transport of the soldier's remains. Immediately after the ceremony, the Canadian delegation returned to Ottawa with a casket containing the soldier's remains on board the aircraft.

On the evening of May 25th, the casket carrying the remains of the Unknown Soldier was transported to Parliament Buildings, where it was placed in the Hall of Honour in the Centre Block. The remains lay in state there for three days, until the morning of May 28th, so that Canadians could view the casket and pay their respects.

In the afternoon of May 28th, the Unknown Soldier was transported from Parliament Hill to the National War Memorial on a horse-drawn gun carriage provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The funeral cortege included Their Excellencies, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada and John Ralston Saul, the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister of Canada, veterans, Canadian Forces personnel and members of the RCMP. In a ceremony which aired on national television, the Unknown Soldier was laid to rest in a specially-designed sarcophagus directly in front of the War Memorial.

From that point on, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier became a focal point of commemoration for all memorial events at the National War Memorial. It is a memorial in Canada for Canadians. The Tomb is a fitting way to honour the sacrifices on which our freedoms were built. 

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was created to honour the more than 116,000 Canadians who sacrificed their lives in the cause of peace and freedom. Furthermore, the Unknown Soldier represents all Canadians, whether they be navy, army, air force or merchant marine, who died or may die for their country in all conflicts - past, present, and future.

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