25 December 1917

Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-005059 (modified from the original). Colourized by Canadian Colour.

On this day 100 years ago many Canadian servicemen and nurses celebrated Christmas abroad, from the hospital wards to the trenches. This Christmas Day photo was taken in 1917 at the Duchess of Connaught Canadian Red Cross Hospital in Taplow, England.

Wishing you a happy and peaceful time with family and friends this Holiday Season!

Today’s photograph has been colourized as part of The Vimy Foundation’s First World War In Colour project. Learn more about this project and see more photos by visiting https://www.vimyfoundation.ca/projects/.

#YearInReview – Opening of the Vimy Visitor Education Centre

Credit: Pascal Brunet, The Vimy Foundation 2017.

#YearInReview – 2017 saw the opening of the new Vimy Visitor Education Centre, thanks to our many generous supporters, including: The George and Helen Vari Foundation, Canso Investment Counsel Ltd., Lysander Funds, John & Kim Carswell Family, Bell Canada, Veterans Affairs Canada, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, Power Corporation of Canada, EF Tours Canada, Tim Hortons, Scotiabank, BMO Canada, CIBC, RBC, TD Canada, & ZSA Recruitment! #Vimy100

Credit: Pascal Brunet, The Vimy Foundation 2017.
Credit: Pascal Brunet, The Vimy Foundation 2017.
Credit: Pascal Brunet, The Vimy Foundation 2017.

 

The Halifax Christmas Tree At The Boston Common

Did you know when the Spanish flu struck in 1918, Nova Scotia sent a team of doctors to Boston as a symbol of gratitude for the assistance received from Massachusetts after the Halifax Explosion? In December 1918, this gratitude was extended in the form of a Christmas tree, sent from Halifax and installed at the Boston Common. In 1971 the tradition was reinstated and has taken place every year since, with the lighting of the annual tree signaling the start of Boston’s Christmas festivities. In Halifax the gesture remains a sobering reminder of the loss suffered in December 1917 (See Mac Donald, Curse of The Narrows – The Halifax Explosion 1917, p. 273-274).

See more here: https://www.ctvnews.ca/world/halifax-s-annual-christmas-tree-gift-for-boston-lights-the-city-1.3702456

The Christmas Truce Memorial

Credit: Rachel Collishaw, The Vimy Foundation 2017.

As we near the holidays, we wanted to share some photos of the 2017 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize winning students who visited the Christmas Truce Memorial in Messines (Mesen), Belgium

Apply now for the 2018 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize! 15-17 year old Canadian, British, and French students can win an unforgettable educational experience with the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize. The two-week long program in Europe gives high school students the opportunity to study Canada and its interwoven history with Great Britain and France during the First and Second World Wars.

Apply here: https://www.vimyfoundation.ca/programs/beaverbrook-vimy-prize/

Credit: Rachel Collishaw, The Vimy Foundation 2017.

#YearInReview – Canadian Flag from Parliament Hill – 9 April 2017

#YearInReview – The Vimy Foundation was fortunate to receive the Canadian flag that flew at half-mast over Parliament Hill on April 9th, 2017, marking #Vimy100. Thank-you to Judy Foote, former Minister of Public Services and Procurment Canada, for sharing this piece of Canadian history with us!

Do you have a special Remembrance Moment from 2017? Share it with us on our social media pages!
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/VimyFoundation/
Twitter : @vimyfoundation
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The Judicial Inquiry of the Halifax Explosion

Did you know that the judicial inquiry into the Halifax Explosion began on 13 December 1917? Made into scapegoats, the Mont Blanc’s captain, Aimé Le Médec, the harbour pilot Francis Mackey, and Frederick Evans Wyatt, the chief examining officer of Halifax harbour, were found wholly responsible and were subsequently charged with manslaughter. However, all attempts to bring them to trial failed due to lack of evidence. In 1919, the initial inquiry’s ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada and overturned. In the end, both ships were found to be equally at fault.

When interviewed by the CBC fifty years later, harbour pilot Francis Mackey still maintained that his ship had the right of way: http://www.cbc.ca/archives/entry/mont-blanc-pilot-francis-mackey-recalls-halifax-1917-explosion

17 December 1917 – The Halifax Explosion Funeral

“Argyle Street at the corner of George Street, Halifax, showing pine coffins supplied to Snow & Co., Undertakers, second building from right, for victims of the explosion”
Credit: W.G. MacLaughlan, Halifax Relief Commission, Nova Scotia Archives, accession no. 1976-166 no. 64 / negative: N-4273.

On this day in 1917, a funeral is held in Halifax for the remaining unidentified bodies following the explosion. Some bodies can never possibly be identified; others have no living relatives left to claim them. They are buried in a plot at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery, the same location of 121 victims from the Titanic.

“Public funeral of unidentified dead – Monday, December 17th: services by all denominations”
Credit: Nova Scotia Archives, from Devasted Halifax (Halifax, 1917), pp. 30-31, Reference no. F107 H13 Ex7 no. 5.

November 2017 Poll Results

Remembrance Week Poll Finds That Awareness of Vimy Ridge Rising; while Passchendaele Less Well Known

Three in Four Canadians (76%) Support More Budget to Maintain Soldiers’ Graves in Canada.

The year 2017 marks the centenary of two significant battles of the First World War in which Canadian troops participated. A new Ipsos survey for the Vimy Foundation has found that half of Canadians (49%) know that one of them is the Battle of Vimy Ridge, though only one in four (25%) can identify Passchendaele as the other battle marking its 100th anniversary this year.

The survey also finds that awareness of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France has strengthened, in light of the increased attention paid to the battle on its centenary: two in ten Canadians (18%) can correctly identify the monument from a photograph, without any written prompts or clues – a six-point increase from 2016.

Battle of Passchendaele Knowledge Low

By contrast, knowledge about the Battle of Passchendaele is less strong. Given a list of battles in different wars, only one in three (35%) are able to identify that Passchendaele was fought in the First World War.

Knowledge about Passchendaele varies significantly by age, with Millennials (27%) being much less likely to associate it with the First World War than Gen X’ers (32%) or Baby Boomers (44%). The same holds true for awareness of the Centenary of Vimy (36% of Millennials, vs. 46% of Gen X’ers and 60% of Boomers) and recognition of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial (16% of Millennials, vs. 18% of Gen X’ers and 21% of Boomers), which demonstrates a trend of lower levels of awareness and knowledge of these historical battles among young adults.

Millennial Engagement High Despite Low Level of Knowledge

Millennials most likely demographic to support the building of a memorial dedicated to Vimy in Toronto. Eight in ten (83%) agree (33% strongly/50% somewhat), as do 83% of Gen X’ers, while support among Baby Boomers drops to 72%. Millennials are also just as likely as older Canadians to say that one day they’d like to visit the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France: two in three (66%) agree (24% strongly/42% somewhat), in line with 67% of Gen X’ers and 68% of Boomers.

Strong Support for Better Maintenance of War Memorials, Graves

Government of Canada auditors have found that more than 45,000 grave markers require maintenance. Prior to 2003, the federal government allocated $5 million annually to the care of these grave markers. Since then, the budget has been reduced to $1.2M, where it remains today.

Most Canadians (76%) support (31% strongly/45% somewhat) increasing budget for the maintenance of these sites, including majority of every demographic studied.

Many also perceive a need to restore war memorials at the community level: half (48%) of Canadians agree (10% strongly/38% somewhat) that the war cenotaph or memorial in their community is in need of repair and/or restoration. This is up 8 points since 2015.

View complete poll results here.