OTTAWA - A large hushed crowd converged around the National War Memorial in Ottawa on a chilly Sunday as the country paused for a moment to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Elderly veterans stood alongside young service members as flags flew at half-mast in the nation's capital to mark Remembrance Day.
"The younger veterans and the older veterans, they meet today in mutual respect and admiration as partners in the battle against evil. They are Canada's best," Rabbi Reuven Bulka, Honorary Chaplain of Dominion Command, told the crowd.
"They fought our fight to ensure freedom and dignity for everyone. They therefore deserve to be celebrated, applauded and eternally appreciated as authentic heroes."
Gov. Gen. David Johnston, who was wearing the blue uniform of the Royal Canadian Airforce, led the national service which also included a military parade, a gun salute and the laying of wreaths.
Among those in attendance was Roxanne Priede, this year's National Silver Cross Mother, picked by the Royal Canadian Legion to attend the ceremony on behalf of all Canadian mothers who have lost children in the service to their country.
Priede shed tears as she lay a wreath at the base of the war memorial. Her son, Master Corporal Darrell Jason Priede, died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2007.
"May we never forget those who have gone before us, paving the way to a world of greater freedom, more lasting justice and a more profound peace," said Brig. Gen Karl McLean, Chaplain General of the Canadian Forces, who led the ceremony in prayer.
In Halifax, hundreds of people packed the city's Grand Parade square under cool and cloudless skies for a Remembrance Day ceremony.
The sound of canons blasting from the city's Citadel Hill emanated throughout the square as wreaths were laid on a war memorial.
Cpl. Jeff Cameron, who serves at the Canadian Forces Base Halifax, said he hoped young generations continue to honour and support Canada's war veterans.
"I think it's important because it's paying respects for people who are serving and who have served and to give them support for what their doing," said Cameron just after being thanked for his service by a person walking by in the crowd.
Brydon Blacklaws, of Halifax, said he considers Remembrance Day "a great symbol of national pride."
"I want to support our family members that have served in the military, as well as my friends and community members that are in the military now and show my respects."
Wreaths were also laid at Ontario's provincial legislature in Toronto, where residents gathered to watch the laying of wreaths and witness a 21-gun salute.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is wrapping an Asian trade mission, marked Remembrance Day in Hong Kong earlier today at a cemetery where 283 Canadian soldiers are buried.
Harper and his wife placed wreaths at the base of the Sai Wan memorial which commemorates those who were killed in the battle of Hong Kong — one of the most catastrophic episodes in Canadian military history.
In Afghanistan, members of the Canadian Forces who are in the country on a training mission observed Remembrance Day with their coalition partners. Troops laid wreaths decorated with poppies at a base in Kabul.
In a statement released Sunday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Associate Defence Minister Bernard Valcourt said the nature of wars has changed but importance of honouring those who fought for their country remains ever strong.
"In the 21st Century, war has taken on a different character, but it is no less war, and no less damaging to those who fight it, and those at home who are affected by it," the statement said.
"Canada remembers, because there are still conflicts. Heroic men and women go to war for the benefit of Canada and the rest of the world, and some are lost. Would that this did not happen, but until the last war is fought, lest we forget."
An Ipsos Reid poll last week found that 30 per cent of respondents to an online survey were planning to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies today — up eight percentage points from two years ago.