Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Tombe du Soldat Inconnu
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - Tombe du Soldat inconnu.jpg
Two ceremonial guards at the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa
Coordinates 45°25′26.53″N 75°41′43.79″W / 45.4240361°N 75.6954972°W / 45.4240361; -75.6954972
Location Canada
Type War memorial
Opening date 2002
Dedicated to All persons who served and did not return home

The Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Tombe du Soldat Inconnu) is located at the National War Memorial in Confederation Square, Ottawa.[1] The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added to the war memorial in 2000, and holds the remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier who died in France during World War I. The unidentified soldier was selected from a cemetery in the vicinity of Vimy Ridge, the site of a famous Canadian battle of the First World War.

The original headstone of the Unknown Soldier is the sole artifact and the focal point of Memorial Hall in the Canadian War Museum. The hall was designed in such a way that sunlight will only frame the headstone once each year on the 11th of November at 11:00 am.[2]

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was created to honour the 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.

Unknown soldier[edit]

The stone at the original grave site of Canada's Unknown Soldier at Cabaret Rouge Cemetery near Souchez, France

The body of the soldier was formerly buried in Plot 8, Row E, Grave 7, of the Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery in Souchez, France, near the memorial at Vimy Ridge, the site of the first major battle where Canadian troops fought as a combined force. At the request of the Canadian government, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission selected one of the 1,603 graves of unknown Canadians buried in the vicinity of Vimy Ridge. The remains of the soldier were exhumed on the morning of May 16, 2000, and the coffin was flown in a Canadian Forces aircraft to Ottawa on May 25, accompanied by a guard of honour, a chaplain, Royal Canadian Legion veterans, and representatives of Canadian youth. In Ottawa, the unknown soldier lay in state for three days.

On the afternoon of May 28, the body of 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 (RCMP). Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, as well as veterans, Canadian Forces personnel, and members of the RCMP, were in the funeral procession. Then, with appropriate ceremony, the body of the unknown soldier was re-interred in a sarcophagus in front of the War Memorial.

At the former burial site of the unknown soldier, a grave marker similar to the other headstones in the Cabaret-Rouge Cemetery has been placed on the now-empty grave. The marker is inscribed with these words:


The tomb is 3.5 metres (12 ft) long, 2.5 metres (8 ft) wide and 1 metre (3 ft) high. It is built of Caledonia granite originally quarried in Rivière-à-Pierre, Quebec, with a bronze relief sculpture and four bronze corner pieces. The bronze work was designed by Canadian artist Mary-Ann Liu and cast in Roberts Creek, British Columbia. Both the tomb and sculpture reflect some of the themes and style of the Vimy Memorial, designed by Walter Seymour Allward.

Poppies placed on the tomb on Remembrance Day

At the first Remembrance Day following the tomb's installation, a new tradition formed spontaneously as attendees placed their poppies on the tomb. This tradition, while not part of the official program, is widely practiced, with others leaving cut flowers, photographs, or letters to the deceased. The spontaneous display of respect has also carried over to Canada Day, when the public leaves small, paper Canada Flags on the tomb.

The Royal Canadian Legion commissioned a small work of art on the theme of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Canada) (2001) by André Gauthier.

Canada Day 2006[edit]

Some, including Canadian veterans of the Royal Canadian Legion, thought the site of the tomb deserved a military or police guard of honour as a symbol of respect and to protect it from vandalism and desecration. An incident on July 1, 2006 brought these demands into sharp focus when Dr. Michael Pilon, a retired Canadian Forces major, photographed three young men urinating on the nearby War Memorial shortly after the annual Canada Day fireworks show over nearby Parliament Hill.

In the summer of 2007, a pair of sentries was mounted by the Ceremonial Guard in full dress uniform, from 9 am to 5 pm.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ National War Memorial
  2. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°25′26.53″N 75°41′43.79″W / 45.4240361°N 75.6954972°W / 45.4240361; -75.6954972