02 November 2018

Remembrance Survey

Ancestry commissioned a Leger Marketing survey of 1,524 Canadian adults between 12 October and 15 October, 2018 showing a dip in the number of people that plan to commemorate Remembrance Day at all; down to 80 per cent this year from 86 per cent in 2017.

The survey shows those under 35 are the least likely to commemorate Remembrance Day in 2018 (72 per cent, down from 78 per cent in 2017).

Here's the complete news release from Ancestry.ca.


Ancestry study reveals knowledge gap around WWI and the 100th Anniversary of Armistice;
Less than a quarter of Canadians able to correctly identify Canadian Prime Minister during WWI – 8% think it was Winston Churchill;

Commemoration of Remembrance Day also declining among Canadians

Toronto, ON (November 1, 2018) – Ahead of 11th November, a study commissioned by Ancestry reveals that the majority of Canadians are unaware that this Remembrance Day marks a significant milestone: the 100th Anniversary of the end of ‘The Great War’.

The survey, conducted by Leger Marketing[i], also indicates a substantial dip in the number of people that plan to commemorate Remembrance Day at all; down to 80 per cent this year from 86 per cent in 2017. Those under 35 are the least likely to commemorate Remembrance Day in 2018 (72 per cent, down from 78 per cent in 2017).

Originally referred to as Armistice Day by the British Commonwealth[ii], the end of the First World War has been commemorated by Canadians for a century as of November 11th this year. The poppy has been a prominent symbol of Remembrance during this time, yet the survey reveals only 59 per cent of Canadians will mark Remembrance Day with a poppy purchase (down from 70 per cent in 2017) and fewer still (46 per cent) will observe a moment of silence. Canadian women are more likely than men to buy a poppy (65 per cent for women, 53 per cent for men) or observe a moment of silence (51 per cent for women, 41 per cent for men).

When asked about WWI, respondents aged 35-44 were the least likely to know the significance of this centenary year, with only 37 per cent correctly identifying this Remembrance Day as the 100th Anniversary of Armistice / end of WWI.

Across all age groups, less than a quarter (22 per cent) of Canadians correctly identified that Sir Robert Laird Borden was the Prime Minister of Canada during the WWI period. In fact, a shocking eight per cent selected British WWII Prime Minister Winston Churchill when asked to identify the Prime Minister of Canada during the conflict.

While the survey reveals some gaps around Canadians’ knowledge of WWI in general, it also highlights that many don’t know if they have a personal connection to ‘The Great War’ through their ancestors. Nearly four in ten (38 per cent) admit to having no idea whether their family served in the conflict, and of those who don’t plan to commemorate Remembrance Day in any way, 29 per cent (the largest group) say this is because they don’t know if they have a connection to WWI, WWII and our soldiers.

To empower people to discover the stories of veterans throughout history and explore the role their own ancestors played in wars throughout history, Ancestry is offering free access to all Canadian military records from November 8th to November 11th [Existing Ancestry subscribers will have free access to Fold3 and Newspapers.com from 8th – 11th Nov] at www.ancestry.ca

Lesley Anderson, spokesperson for Ancestry comments: “Ahead of Remembrance Sunday, it’s such a shame to see a decline in commemorations in Canada, yet given the lack of personal connection that many Canadians have to WWI and WWII, this is perhaps understandable. Knowing about an ancestor who served and learning about the role they played and how war impacted their life can be an emotional experience that brings relevance to Remembrance commemorations.

We encourage people to use the free access period on Ancestry to discover their own links to historic conflicts and hopefully commemorate the lives and stories of their own ancestors – and all those who have served - on November 11th this year.”

Provincial Differences:

The province with the lowest proportion of people likely to commemorate Remembrance Day is Quebec (50 per cent plan to commemorate)
Alberta (91 per cent) and the Atlantic provinces are the most likely to commemorate (91 percent)
Respondents from Alberta were also the most likely to correctly identify Sir Robert Borden as the Prime Minister during WWI at 29 per cent. Quebec was the least likely to identify this correctly at 16 per cent.
Ancestry is also supporting The Royal Canadian Legion’s MyPoppy.ca campaign, the first-ever digital poppy initiative, growing a new generation of poppy supporters online.

Do you know about ancestors who fought in the Crimea or at Waterloo? Likely not. Does that worry you? Is it disrespectful to their memory? If we don't remember those distant ancestors who served their country in the military why should it be different as the lives of the 1914-18 generation recede?
At the rate of 6% decline per year found in the survey how long will it be until only a rag tag turn up for a Remembrance service? When you have no first hand recollection of anyone who was involved why would you remember? Will it just fade into the obscurity of "history" submerged by more immediate concerns?
The trend is probably amplified as one of the consequences of immigration, 22% of Canada's population being immigrants likely most of whom had no ancestors involved in the war.


Anonymous said...

Part of the problem of Canadians not knowing who the Prime Minister of Canada was during the WWI time period or any time period for that matter, is in direct correlation with the pathetic history taught in Canadian public schools. This will be further ascerbated by the influx of immigrants, many of whom were either not involved or were on the other side. History is usually told by the victor and the opinions and concerns of the vanquished are seldom told.

Anonymous said...

It is tragic if that many Canadians have no idea if they have any connections to anyone who fought in WWI and WWII. I agree with anonymous that the teaching of history was terrible, at least when I was in school. I was taught in high school by a history teacher who had also taught my mother, 30 years before, and he seemed not have have improved in that time. It was only becoming excited about family history did my interest in the political and social history of Canada and the UK become so important to me.
I bless my grandfather for his participation in the Battle of the Somme, and his severe disfigurement, which took him out of the line and probably saved his life.
For years I telephoned my late father in law in Toronto and thanked him every year on 11 November for risking his life not just once or twice, but over and over again flying a Lancaster Bomber, including over the Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944.

Anonymous said...

Yes, our family does have an ancestor who fought (and died) in the Battle of Waterloo.And while I already knew a lot about the battle and its the significance in the grand scheme of history, yes, learning of this personal connection did change the way I think of it now. Instead of the grand scheme off history, the first thing I thinkmof now is what it must have been like for the men who were there (and the women and children who accompanied them). If we keep on forgetting what it was like for the people caught up im these events, we’ll keep on repeating the same horrors over and over again in each new generation.