As we approach the 80th anniversary of one of the most significant events in modern history, it’s crucial to reflect on Canada’s pivotal role in the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

D-Day, (Decision Day or Days of Days), was a momentous turning point in the Second World War. It not only marked the beginning of the end of Nazi occupation in Europe but also showcased the unwavering bravery and sacrifice of Canadian soldiers who fought on the beaches of Normandy.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a proud Canadian, or simply seeking to honour the past, a meaningful visit to any of these places across South Eastern Ontario would be worth checking out.

1.Fort Wellington National Historic Site (Prescott): Fort Wellington, located in Prescott, was a strategic military outpost during the 19th century, guarding the St. Lawrence River against potential American invasion. Today, the site is a National Historic Site of Canada, offering guided tours and exhibits that highlight its military history. This site is located at 370 Vankoughnet St., Prescott.

2. Brockville Royal Canadian Legion Branch 96 cenotaph: On June 6 at 11 a.m. the community is gathering at the Branch Cenotaph at 180 Park St., Brockville for a parade, commemoration service, and wreath laying. Refreshments will follow and the branch will host an open house and displays. 

3.Royal Military College of Canada Museum (Kingston): Located on the grounds of the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, this museum showcases the history of the college and Canada’s military heritage. It features exhibits on various aspects of military life, including uniforms, equipment, and historical artifacts. The museum’s address is 4 Passchendale Dr., Kingston.

4.Fort Henry National Historic Site (Kingston): While not solely a military museum, Fort Henry in Kingston offers guided tours and exhibits that highlight its role as a 19th-century military fortress. Visitors can explore the fort’s ramparts, barracks, and military displays, including demonstrations of 19th-century military tactics and drills. This historical site is located at 1 Fort Henry Dr., Kingston.

5. Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Kingston Military Communications and Electronics Museum: This museum, located on the grounds of CFB Kingston, focuses on the history of military communications and electronics in Canada. It showcases a collection of artifacts, equipment, and displays related to military communications technology. It’s located at 95 Craftsman Blvd., Kingston.

6. National Air Force Museum of Canada (Trenton): While primarily focused on the history of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), this museum in Trenton, offers insights into Canada’s military aviation history. Visitors can explore a wide range of aircraft and exhibits, including those related to Canada’s involvement in conflicts such as the Second World War. The museum is located at 220 RCAF Road, 8 Wing/CFB Trenton.

7.Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment Military Museum (Belleville): This museum, located in Belleville, preserves the history and heritage of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, a Canadian Army reserve infantry regiment. It features exhibits on the regiment’s involvement in various military campaigns, including D-Day. The museum is located at 187 Pinnacle St., Belleville.

8.Royal Canadian Legions can also serve as places where visitors can learn about military history and pay tribute to veterans. While not traditional museums, many Royal Canadian Legion branches have memorabilia, displays, and events related to military history, including D-Day. Here are a few ways you might engage with them:

  1. Memorabilia Displays: Some legions have displays of military artifacts, photographs, and memorabilia, including items related to D-Day and other significant battles.
  2. Veterans’ Stories: Many legions have members who are veterans themselves or have family members who served in the military. They often have firsthand stories and experiences to share about their service, which can provide valuable insights into Canada’s military history.
  3. Remembrance Events: Royal Canadian Legions play a central role in organizing and hosting Remembrance Day ceremonies and other events to honor veterans. These events often include ceremonies, parades, and wreath-laying ceremonies to commemorate those who served, including those who fought on D-Day.
  4. Community Engagement: Legions are active in their communities and often host educational events, guest speakers, and fundraisers related to military history and veterans’ causes. These events can provide opportunities for visitors to learn more about Canada’s military heritage.


Canada played a crucial part in the D-Day invasion, with thousands of Canadian troops landing on Juno Beach, one of the five designated landing zones. Despite facing formidable German defenses, the Canadian forces, alongside their Allied counterparts, demonstrated remarkable courage and determination, securing a crucial foothold in the liberation of Europe.

Canada’s significant ground contribution to the D-Day landings was spearheaded by the 3rd Division and the 2nd Armoured Brigade. Reflecting the nation’s diversity, these forces included infantry battalions from Ontario, Quebec, the western provinces, and the Maritimes, alongside a varied mix of artillery, engineers, signals, and service units. The armoured brigade’s three regiments symbolized Ontario, Manitoba, and Quebec.

Operating under the command of the British Second Army, Canadian troops faced daunting challenges as they stormed Juno Beach. Despite facing rough waters, beach obstacles, wire, mines, and enemy gunfire, they pressed forward with determination. Supported by an intimidating array of weapons, including artillery, rocket-firing landing craft, and naval guns, they secured a beachhead by nightfall. Though falling short of planned objectives, this foothold proved resilient against enemy counter-attacks.

In the ensuing days, Canadian forces fortified and expanded their position, establishing a foothold by June 11, which paved the way for the arrival of new formations, and marked a pivotal phase in the Allied advance.

Today, Juno Beach is a solemn reminder of the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers. Visitors to this historic site can explore the Juno Beach Centre — Canada’s memorial to the Second World War — in Normandy, France. Serving as both a museum and a cultural hub, it honours the memory of the 45,000 Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war, including 5,500 who fell during the Battle of Normandy and 381 on D-Day. 

Inaugurated in 2003 through the efforts of veterans and volunteers, the centre was born from a collective vision to establish a lasting tribute to all Canadians who served in the Second World War. Its core mission is to safeguard this heritage for future generations by imparting knowledge and fostering remembrance.

The brave soldiers who died on the beaches and in the fierce battles to secure the position are buried in the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, located near the village of Reviers. Amidst pines and maples, the cemetery is a solemn tribute, with 2,049 headstones marking the fallen of the 3rd Division and the graves of 15 airmen.

The community of Reviers holds a special bond with the cemetery. Adorned with elegant hedges at the entrance, the cemetery exudes a sense of reverence and respect. Flanking registry buildings offer platforms giving visitors a panoramic view, allowing them to contemplate the area’s significance and admire the meticulous planning and design that went into creating this resting place.

Guided tours, informative exhibits, and opportunities to meet veterans provide a deeper understanding of the significance of this historic event.

As we commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, let us remember the courage, sacrifice, and resilience of the Canadian soldiers who fought for freedom and democracy. Their legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of Canadians and serves as a reminder of the enduring power of hope, unity, and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Cover image credit Juno Beach @wimvanteinde on Unsplash.