June 27:  Bright, Ontario is the smallest of towns with the biggest of hearts.

When Tour organizers started mapping out the Portraits of Honour National Tour almost a year ago, they admit they had never heard of Bright, Ontario.  Boasting a population of less than 500 residents and less than 1 square mile in size, it’s little surprise.

Despite its small size, when first contacted by Blandford-Blenheim Fire Chief, Rick Richardson, organizers knew early on that this little town in Oxford County would be one of the “biggest” stops on the tour for it was here that a young man grew up, served his community as a volunteer firefighter until he joined the Canadian Forces to serve a greater cause and it was this community that mourned his loss.

Private Tyler Todd is highly regarded by all those who knew him.  He is described by his Fire Chief as “strong”, a term saved by fellow firefighters for only the best from their ranks.

Today, the normally quiet Bright Fire Department hosted the Portraits of Honour National Tour, Veterans Affairs Canada’s Seventh Book of Remembrance and over 700 people who attended a special ceremony to honour Tyler and the other 156 fallen troops that Canada has lost.

Prior to arriving at Bright just before the lunch hour, the residents of several other nearby communities were greeted with the flashing lights and sirens of the O.P.P. cruisers, Princeton Fire Department and Bright Fire Department pumper trucks as they escorted the POH trailer from Hamilton to the fire station in Tyler’s hometown.  Once there, while the team set up, the family of Private Todd were treated to a very special and historic moment.

For the first time in Canada’s history, a Book of Remembrance was removed from the Peace Tower in Ottawa and taken to civilian location.  There are only two other times that a Book of Remembrance has been removed from its normal secure location:  for the Portraits of Honour’s first official tour stop at CFB Trenton and then to CFB Bagotville in conjunction with the Portraits of Honour’s tour stop there.  This is the first time it’s gone to a non-military installation.

Bev and Bryan Todd were joined by their daughter Jenna and her boyfriend Davie and their oldest daughter Samantha and Brett and their gorgeous baby daughter Myla as they had an opportunity to view the Book prior to the general public.

The Book was turned to feature Tyler’s name and in an unprecedented move, Mrs. Todd got to actually touch the page with her son’s name. 

The 700 plus people who showed up to Bright today exemplify the very reason this Tour was created.  To bring communities together to remember, honour and celebrate our troops.  It doesn’t have to be a big city or a big event.  It simply has to have people with big hearts.  And you won’t find bigger hearts than those in Oxford County.

CTV Southweastern Ontario offers this news story