As the number of remaining Second World War vets dwindles, Canadians increase attendance for Remembrance Day ceremonies

November 8, 2019

As the number of remaining Second World War vets dwindles, Canadians increase attendance for Remembrance Day ceremonies

Toronto – November 8, 2019 – For the fourth year in a row, the number of Canadians who say they’ll attend a Remembrance Day ceremony has climbed. Forty one per cent now say they will do so, according to a poll by Ipsos on behalf of Historica Canada. That’s up 2% from last year, and a 14% leap over 2016. The spike in planned attendance is supported by the fact that more than half (55%) of Canadians say they’ve attended a ceremony in the past by choice, a 6% increase over 2017’s survey.


While it’s hard to pinpoint a reason for the increased interest, it may reflect the realization that the number of Second World War veterans still alive is diminishing – those who served in 1945 at age 18 are now 92 years old. Nearly nine in ten (88%) of respondents agree that it is important to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies now while there are still World War II veterans present, a four per cent increase relative to 2017.  Almost all (94%) agree that hearing veterans speak about their experiences is the best way for youth to understand conflict, and more (80%) say they have personally listened to a veteran discussing his or her experiences. That also marks an increase over responses when a similar question was asked in 2015 (75%) and 2017 (73%).


“There is nothing quite like hearing about an event directly from those involved. Canadians are recognizing there are limited opportunities for that when it comes to the Second World War,” said Anthony Wilson-Smith, President and CEO of Historica Canada. “At Historica Canada we work to keep their stories alive, through video interviews, podcasts and more. We’re glad to see an increasing number of Canadians are taking time to honour our veterans.”


The survey found some generational differences in how Canadians remember. In terms of age, the group most likely to attend official services are Millennials (age 18-34) at 45 per cent. Proportionally more Millennials attended a service marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day earlier this year – 18% compared to 13% of Gen X (age 35-54) and 10% of Baby Boomers (age 55+). However Boomers remain the group most likely to wear a poppy in the lead up to Remembrance Day at 92%.


Other findings:

  • Two thirds (67%) believe they know more about Canadian military history than American military history.
  • More than half (55%) take an active interest in military history and seek out information through books, movies, etc. This is most likely in Saskatchewan and Manitoba where 60% take an active interest.
  • Those in Alberta are most likely to attend a Remembrance Day ceremony (51%) and wear a poppy (96%) but are the least likely to take an active interest in military history (52%).
  • Nine in ten (90%) support Remembrance Day being made a national statutory holiday.

Historica Canada offers programs that you can use to explore, learn and reflect on our history and what it means to be Canadian.  


Full poll results are available here.


These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between October 21st and 24th, 2019, on behalf of Historica Canada. For this survey, a sample of 1,000 Canadians were interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.