The "Highway of Heroes" - A grassroots movement becomes a permanent tribute

Crowded bridge along the Highway of Heroes

It started with a few people, standing on bridges overlooking the busiest highway in North America.  Gradually, the crowds grew and grew, braving the bitter wind and snow of winter and the scorching sun of summer.  Each time the grim parade makes it's way down that stretch of highway, the crowds swell and more flags appear.  Firetrucks, with lights flashing and firefighters on top, stand at attention and salute the passing motorcade.

Firefighters on the bridge

Each time a Canadian soldier falls in the line of duty, they are flown to Canadian Forces Base Trenton to be repatriated before taking a last, long ride to the Coroner's Office in downtown Toronto, 107 miles away.  Most of that sad journey is along this highway. This stretch of highway has now officially been renamed "The Highway of Heroes". 

The MacDonald - Cartier Freeway runs from the outskirts of Montreal to Windsor Ontario, straight through the heart of Toronto.  Locally know (somewhat affectionately) as the "Four-Oh-One", it is the busiest highway in North America and the busiest trucking route in the world, surpassing even the Santa Monica Freeway in L.A. 

At first, the City of Toronto government tried to discourage the practice, but like trying to stems the tides in  the Bay of  Fundy, they were powerless to stop the flow and gave in, eventually even officially endorsing the tribute. Politics is like that, I guess.

I have lived on both sides of the US/Canada border.  I often envied the Americans for their willingness to show their patriotism - flags waving from many homes all year around.  We Canadians are often said to be a more reserved people, and from my experience, I believe that to be true.  We don't wear our patriotism "on our sleeves".  Maybe that is starting to change.  I hope so, if only for our fallen heroes.  They deserve it.

Recently, songs have been written and more recently, a US news service featured the Highway of Heroes.  Below are links to those songs and videos.

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day in the United States. To our men and women, all around the world, who risk their lives for us - thank you.  I pray that if you ever travel this Highway of Heroes, it is to go into T.O. for some afternoon shopping or to catch dinner and a show.  

With sincerest thanks and gratitude............


Comment balloon 7 commentsRick Sergison • November 12 2010 12:38AM


Every fallen soldier should be honored this way.  What a beautiful tribute. 

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) about 10 years ago


Heroes they are. Whether living or dead, our soldiers are responsible for the freedoms we enjoy. I belong to an organization known as the Pease Greeters and have blogged about it here on AR. If you would like to find out what we do, you can go to or click this link. "Pease Greeters - Honoring our troops one flight at a time".

Posted by John McCarthy, Realtor - Seacoast NH about 10 years ago


While it's good to celebrate the funerals of the fallen, it is tragic to read the stories about them in the newspapers. Their full lives were ahead of them. They are all so young.


Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) about 10 years ago


This post is so beautifully written....touched my heart. Everytime I travel home to visit my parents in the Quinte area, I see the Highway of Heroes signs and am reminded of all of those who have lost their lives defending the freedoms and rights of all people.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith about 10 years ago

Thank you Rick ... I had to reblog your great post ... with lead as follows:

Thank you to Rick Sergison - Durham Region Real Estate Blog Pickering Ont. for telling us about a tribute we may not be aware of on the western side of the country.  


Canadians may not wear our patriotism on our sleeves ... but for most certain we have it in our hearts.   Nov 11 ... Just one day we remember ... but we can be thankful every day and remember the sacrifices and deeds of others for us and our country.

Posted by Len Kobewka, You Can Scape-it (Prairie Scapes / Scape-it™) about 10 years ago

The repatriation ceremonies are really something to see.  The streets of Trenton stretching from the airbase to the 401 are lined with red everytime this happens.

Posted by Malcolm Johnston, Trenton Real Estate (Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario) about 10 years ago
I do not like the Diesel Mohawk hat at all.I'd opt for something more clissac and rugged instead of so metro. This other hat seems ok but it looks like a little overdesigned as well. Nothing better than a warm comfy hat though![]
Posted by OnUr over 8 years ago

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