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Canada Remembers: Thousands turn out for Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa

WATCH: Governor General lays wreath at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

A crowd of hundreds gathered under a clear sky in the biting cold in Ottawa this morning for a Remembrance Day service at the National War Memorial.

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, in her first Remembrance Day since becoming commander-in-chief of Canada’s armed forces, laid the first wreath at the event.

Canadians are pausing across the country – and around the world – to reflect on the sacrifices made in past and present conflicts.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau marks Remembrance Day by reciting poem during Asia-Pacific conference

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not attend this year’s national service, instead taking part in a ceremony of remembrance in Vietnam, where he’s attending the APEC leaders summit.

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He marked the day by reciting a poem and singing the national anthem alongside Canadian military personnel.

WATCH: Trudeau commemorates Remembrance Day ceremony in Vietnam

Trudeau commemorates Remembrance Day ceremony in Vietnam
Trudeau commemorates Remembrance Day ceremony in Vietnam

Later, Payette will host a luncheon in honour of this year’s national Silver Cross Mother, Diana Abel, who lost her son, Corporal Michael David Abel, while serving in Somalia in 1993.

Special attention is also being paid this year to several key battles from the First and Second World Wars, including the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, which ended on Nov. 10, 1917.

WATCH: Sophie Trudeau lays wreath at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Sophie Trudeau lays wreath at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Sophie Trudeau lays wreath at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

More than 4,000 Canadians were killed and 12,000 were wounded in Passchendaele, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described as a symbol of the worst horrors of the First World War.

“Our soldiers fought an impossible fight with perseverance, valour, and commitment to a greater cause,” Trudeau said in a statement issued Friday.

“Nine Canadians would earn the Victoria Cross for their bravery. Yet the battle came at a devastating cost.”

READ MORE: Remembrance Day: Silver Cross Mother lost son during one of Canada’s most controversial missions

In Danang on Saturday, Trudeau joined nearly 100 people in a hotel conference room for a ceremony that began about an hour after his closing news conference at the APEC summit.

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He recited the French poem, “Le dormeur du val,” and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland read “In Flanders Fields.” A bugler then played “Last Post” and the room sang the national anthem.

This year also marked a century since the April 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge, which saw nearly 3,600 Canadians killed and more than 7,000 wounded, and 75 years since the Dieppe Raid of the Second World War.

WATCH: The remarkable life of a 99-year-old veteran

The remarkable life of a 99-year-old veteran
The remarkable life of a 99-year-old veteran

Icy temperatures also prevailed in Toronto where hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects in the downtown core.

Mayor John Tory said the wintry conditions seemed appropriate given the purpose of the gathering.

WATCH: Remembrance Day: A conversation with a member of the Canadian Forces

Remembrance Day: A conversation with a member of the Canadian Forces
Remembrance Day: A conversation with a member of the Canadian Forces

“That is, I think, a good thing within the context of Remembrance Day,” Tory said of the weather. “Because it might just give us the tiniest sense of the devastating circumstances in which our service men and women did their duty on our behalf in many past conflicts.”

Tory particularly highlighted the battle of Passchendaele, which concluded 100 years ago Friday.

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READ MORE: Fewer than a third of Canadian millennials know Passchendaele was fought during WWI: poll

In Halifax, hundreds of people packed the Grand Parade, and doves flew overhead as rows of uniformed men and women removed their hats to pay their respects to fallen soldiers.

Several Howitzer cannons will send thunderous echoes across the capital today as members of the 30th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, fire several gun salutes as part of Remembrance Day ceremonies.

The Royal Canadian Air Force will also conduct three flypasts over Ottawa-area ceremonies, including

two CF-18 Hornets from 3 Wing Bagotville, Que., that will fly above the National War Memorial.

WATCH: Approximately 35,000 Canadians braved a bitterly cold but bright day in Ottawa to pay tribute to the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Vassy Kapelos reports on the tributes to Canada’s fallen. 

Remembering Canada’s fallen at the National War Memorial
Remembering Canada’s fallen at the National War Memorial