The Treaty of Versailles
A Centenary Action

Following months of negotiations between heads of state and diplomatic teams at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the First World War was formally concluded on June 28, 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

A Peace Conference at the Quai d’Orsay. William Orpen. IWM (Art.IWM ART 2855)

 

For Canada, having representation at the Paris Peace Conference and signing the Treaty of Versailles was vitally important; Prime Minister Borden campaigned hard for this inclusion. As he stated in Parliament:

On behalf of my country I stood firmly upon this solid ground; that in this, the greatest of all wars, in which the world’s liberty, the world’s justice, in short the world’s future destiny were at stake, Canada had led the democracies of both the American continents. Her resolve had given inspiration, her sacrifices had been conspicuous, her effort was unabated to the end. The same indomitable spirit which made her capable of that effort and sacrifice made her equally incapable of accepting at the Peace Conference, in the League of Nations, or elsewhere, a status inferior to that accorded to nations less advanced in their development, less amply endowed in wealth, resources, and population, no more complete in their sovereignty and far less conspicuous in their sacrifice.

Canada signed the Treaty independently, but the signature was indented under “British Empire”. While this did reflect the continued ambiguity of Canada and the other dominions’ role in the world, it did represent a significant step for Canada gaining full independence over its foreign policy. Twelve years later, the Statute of Westminster (1931) granted Canada the ability to determine its own external affairs. The international recognition Canada received was due in no small measure to the sacrifices of its armed forces throughout the First World War.

An independent foreign policy meant that Canada would no longer be obliged to enter a war because of its relationship with England – as it had in August 1914. Future wars would only be entered with the consent of Parliament. Consequently, with the start of the Second World War, when England declared war on Germany Sept. 3, 1939, Canada was not obligated to follow England’s lead and entered the war Sept. 10, 1939, after a vote in the House of Commons.

After the Treaty had been signed in June 1919, a special session of Parliament was summoned on September 1, 1919 for the Treaty to be ratified in Canada. During this special session, Prime Minister Borden spoke about the agreement of all countries to the terms of the Treaty:

I do not claim that there was no hesitation, or even that there was no protest. Probably there was not a single nation whose representatives were absolutely satisfied with every disposition contained in that Treaty. I do not except the representatives from Canada from that sweeping assertion. But there was the great outstanding fact that thirty-two nations of varying and sometimes conflicting ideals and aspirations, widely divergent in status, in power, and in political development, and separated sometimes by ancient antagonisms and long-standing jealousies, did finally give their undivided assent to a Treaty, which whatever its imperfections may be, was designed in all sincerity to assure the future peace of the world.

Despite Borden’s claims above, the terms were not without controversy. The treaty required Germany to disarm, make ample territorial concessions, and pay reparations, along with accepting responsibility for having caused all the loss and damage during the war. Some felt that these terms were overly harsh; others were critical that it was too lenient. Many would argue that the that the terms imposed by the treaty created the conditions that would lead to the unrest in Germany and outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 – the exact opposite of the intentions of those involved in the treaty’s creation.

Image : Portrait of Sir Robert Laird Borden. Sir William Orpen collection. Library and Archives Canada / Acc. No. 1991-76-1 / C-11238.

From Library and Archives Canada: “This portrait of Sir Robert Laird Borden (1854-1937), Canada’s ninth prime minister, was painted by Sir William Orpen (1878-1931) during the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Orpen had been commissioned by the British Government to produce a commemorative work of the historic event. As did other delegates, Borden sat for an individual sketch which later served as a model for the Prime Minister’s portrait in a large group portrait of conference delegates at the event. The finished group portrait, A Peace Conference at the Quai d’Orsay, now hangs in the Imperial War Museum in London. This unique portrait of Sir Robert Borden was produced during one of the four occasions on which the prime minister sat for Orpen, and reflects the prime minister’s fragile state of health, the demands of the previous months putting him at the brink of physical and emotional collapse.”

 

“Canada and the Peace: A Speech by Robert Laird Borden on the Treaty of Peace,” (Ottawa: 1919). https://wartimecanada.ca/document/world-war-i/peace/canada-and-versailles-treaty

 

A tribute to Joseph Bernard Hill

To honour National Indigenous Peoples’ Day on June 21, we share the words of one of our Beaverbrook Vimy Prize alumni, Andrew Yin of Ontario.

While researching for the 2016 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize, I learnt about Joseph Bernard Hill, a First Nations man who fought in the First World War who was killed in September 1918. In August 2016, during the program in France, I visited the Ontario Cemetery, where Joseph was buried, to commemorate his life. It was a powerful experience that left a lasting impact on me. I would like to share my feelings in a tribute to Joseph Bernard Hill.

2016. Here I stand, in front of you. By stumbling upon your name, a journey through history, through your life, had commenced.

1914. September. The atmosphere was increasingly tense, as Canada was obligated to join the war. However, there was also a sense of patriotism; you, as a First Nations man, were prepared and ready to fight for your country.

1915. March. You were 19, not much older than I am right now. You were finally allowed to enlist into the military, with the service number 89648. Away from your homeland, you went sailing with thousands of men across the Atlantic towards a foreign land.

1918. September 30th. Three-and-a-half years after your enlistment. The armistice was about to be called; however, it was one month too late. In Northern France, you were part of a courageous group of Canadians who slowly advanced despite being under intense fire. Unfortunately, on this fateful day, you were stuck by a bullet.

1918, 22 years old. You became a part of the 60,000 Canadians, including the 300 Aboriginal men, whose lives were forever laid far away from home. However, through your sacrifice, you have proven to the rest of Canada that as a First Nations person, you deeply cared about your country. You helped Canada to march a small step forward. Your name, forever inscribed on a gravestone in Northern France, bears testimony to your determination and perseverance, silently but powerfully inspiring your next generation; you had made a lasting impact on your community.

2016. Joseph, your contributions have not been forgotten. I followed a journey through your life, a story of courage and grit. Now, it has a deeper significance to me. Inspired by you, I know that I shall never give up on the road to reach my goals, no matter how difficult it may be. I will keep fighting my battle, as long as I can.

Your sacrifice is a lesson for us to respect. You enlisted during a period of rampant discrimination towards your people; however, you have proven that these were unjustified. A respect towards Aboriginal Canadians is long overdue.

Finally, because of you, I asked myself: what can I do to make Canada a better place? I am part of a fresh generation whose actions will determine the Canada of tomorrow. Joseph, your noble actions inspire me to be more dedicated to making positive changes in my community.

Joseph Bernard Hill, a name that is inscribed on my heart. Today, I am here to appreciate and respect the life that you had sacrificed. I am here to thank you for inspiring me to share the torch of remembrance.

In November 2016, I visited the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, where Joseph lived, and donated a rubbing of Joseph’s headstone, bringing a part of him home. As a result of my Beaverbrook Vimy Prize journey, I have been sparked by the flame of remembrance, hoping to do my part in creating a better Canada for everyone.

(Read an article about Andrew’s visit to the MBQ Council.)

Joseph Bernard Hill, born November 26, 1895, to Joseph and Bernadetta Hill of Deseronto, Ontario. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field in July 1917, with the citation reading: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty at FARBUS on May 3rd 1917. This N.C.O. was in charge of the linesmen and kept patrolling the lines despite the intense enemy shell fire and not only supervised the repairing of the lines but also carried messages from the Brigade to the other Batteries whose lines were out. The lines were continuously being broken but communications were never lost for more than a few minutes at a time. Cpl. HILL by his splendid display of courage and coolness under heavy shell fire set a magnificient [sic] example to the men in his charge.” Killed on September 30, 1918.

View his Service Record here from Library and Archives Canada.

 

 

 

Hiring: Communications Coordinator (Maternity Leave Contract)

(MATERNITY LEAVE CONTRACT, JULY 12, 2019 – JULY 31, 2020)

ORGANIZATION MANDATE

The Vimy Foundation, a nationally recognized Montreal-based not-for-profit organization, is currently looking for a Communications Coordinator as a 12-month maternity leave replacement.

The Communications Coordinator directs planning and implementation of strategic communications to enhance the Foundation’s reputation locally, regionally, and nationally.

Reporting to the Executive Director, Communication Coordinator plays a key role in working with and supporting the Foundation and is an integral member of the team.

Salary: $39-42k commensurate with experience.

Location: Montreal, QC

The Vimy Foundation is a registered charity founded in 2006. Its mission is to preserve and promote Canada’s First World War legacy as symbolized with the victory of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917 – a milestone when Canada earned its place on the world stage. To learn more, visit vimyfoundation.ca.

 

DESCRIPTION OF POSITION

Leads on the development of print and digital media strategies and integrated communications campaigns for Foundation constituencies, with the goal of promoting the mission of the Foundation to audiences and stakeholders, including community members, youth, media, and donors.

Works with the Executive Director, Programs Manager and others within the organization to create internal and external communications pieces and ensure that content is produced and placed throughout print, online and social media communications channels.

Serves as the Foundation’s media liaison facilitating media opportunities for the Executive Director and select Board Directors.

Serves as lead of all items related to the Foundation website, all social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube) and other regular digital and print communications.

 

PREFERRED EXPERIENCE

– Prepare (and follow up on) pitches to local, regional and national media outlets
– Able to write and edit across different writing platforms including for social media, print and digital media
– Coordinating social media and leading communications efforts
– Developing and updating content for website and social media channels
– Developing special event plans and executing them on site
– Coordinating digital and print advertising
– Some knowledge of fundraising including grant writing and donor reporting

QUALIFICATIONS

– Bilingualism in French and English preferred
– Minimum 2 years in communications, outreach/networking, or event planning environment
– Strong writing skills
– Knowledge of Canadian media landscape
– Proven ability to organize and execute events
– University undergraduate degree
– Interest in Canadian history and culture
– Ability to work in a fast-paced, dynamic, changing environment
– Excellent interpersonal skills
– Intermediate level of MS Office
– Experience with WordPress or other CMS, MailChimp, Google Analytics, Google Ads
– Ability to focus on achieving desired outcomes while managing competing priorities
– Proven ability to lead collaborative processes engaging diverse stakeholders, including board directors, in developing, supporting and implementing strategic directions
– Proven ability to work effectively and constructively under pressure

 

Please submit resume and cover letter to vimy@vimyfoundation.ca by 11:59PM EDT on Monday, June 24. We thank all candidates for their interest, but only those selected for interviews will be contacted.

This organization is committed to equity in its policies, practices, and programs. We support diversity in our work environment and ensure that applications from members of underrepresented groups are seriously considered under the employment equity policy. All qualified individuals are encouraged to apply.

 

Commemorating D-Day 75

Today we commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

June 6, 1944—D-Day—a massive Allied force crossed the English Channel. The Canadians successfully captured their shoreline positions at Juno Beach and penetrated the farthest inland, but victory came at a high cost: 359 Canadian soldiers were killed on D-Day alone.

Each year, our Beaverbrook Vimy Prize students have the opportunity to visit Juno Beach and the Juno Beach Centre, Beny-sur-Mer cemetery, and other important sites of the Battle of Normandy. Today, to mark this important anniversary, we have collected some of their reflections from over the years. (Please note: students will blog in their language of preference).

 

Similar to my experience at Vimy Ridge, Juno Beach was a unique and humbling experience. Building off of the success of the First World War, Canada was given increasingly important responsibilities climaxing with the contributions of Canadians in the landings on Juno Beach. It was truly humbling to walk along the sand that Canada had been trusted by the world to take; the sand that hundreds of Canadians had fallen on. Yet walking across the sand was strangely peaceful.

Meeting the locals and taking in the beauty of the area, it was to believe that a major battle was once fought here. The trenches, bunkers, beaches, mulberries in the harbour, all made for a sobering and meaningful experience.

– Adam Labrash, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Beaverbrook Vimy Prize 2016

C’était très intéressant de voir le débarquement du point de vue Canadien et d’en apprendre plus sur le long et rigoureux entrainement pour faire partie des forces Alliées. Ensuite, nous sommes allés au cimetière Canadien de Bény sur Mer, qui était magnifique. Là-bas, j’ai été très impressionné par deux épitaphes de Canadiens mort le Jour J et dans les jours suivant : « I have fulfilled my duty » et « All you had you gave to save mankind. Yourself you scorned to save your life ».

– Paul Toqueboeuf, Boulogne, France; Beaverbrook Vimy Prize 2017

An interesting moment was visiting the Beny-sur-mer cemetery because we were able to see how the epitaphs for the First and Second World Wars are different. What I found very interesting was how so many of the Second World War epitaphs were more personal, with fewer religious references, and often stated who had chosen the epitaph. This made me think about who headstones are really for. The deceased, or those they left behind. I also wondered about why the shift towards personal, familial epitaphs occurred.

– Sabrina Ashgar, Northwood, Middlesex, UK; Beaverbrook Vimy Prize 2017

 

As the sun rose halfway behind grey clouds on Juno Beach approximately 2.5 hours after we expected it, I stood hand in hand with my family, sang an off-key and sleep rough national anthem, and walked slowly up the pier, rocks clacking in our pockets. The boots of 14,000 soldiers walked behind us, marching us slowly into the morning light. No matter what happens, their light will sustain us. No matter what happens, we will face the hardship together. No matter what happens, we will love each other, wholly and unconditionally. And on days like these, it almost seems like that could be enough. Lest we forget.

– Rachel Bannerman, St. Catharines, ON; Beaverbrook Vimy Prize 2015

Aujourd’hui, nous avons visité plusieurs endroits historiques liés à la Bataille de Normandie. J’ai particulièrement apprécié le tour des bunkers, en plus de notre visite au Centre Juno Beach. Durant le tour des Bunkers, j’ai eu l’opportunité de voir ceux-ci en personne, c’était impressionnant de se trouver où les soldats allemands commandaient et observaient l’ennemi, car je pouvais voir des sites historiques ayant bravés le temps. J’ai également été surprise d’apprendre qu’un des bunkers avait été découvert récemment, il y a environ 8 ans. Apprendre cela m’a fait réfléchir: si les humains découvrent encore, de nos jours, des objets et lieux historiques, allons-nous continuer à en retrouver ? Pour moi, voir des représentations visuelles des évènements historiques de cet endroit était plus touchant que lire de l’information sur le sujet, puisque je pouvais me mettre momentanément dans la peau des soldats durant la Bataille de Normandie et ainsi imaginer ce qu’il aurait pu vivre à l’époque.

– Laetitia Champenois Pison, Montreal QC; Beaverbrook Vimy Prize 2018

It was an amazing experience to be on the beach and see the geography of it all. It made it much clearer in my mind. I’ve seen pictures hundreds of times but nothing can compare to seeing it in real life.

– Cassidy Choquette, Steinbach MB; Beaverbrook Vimy Prize 2018

There is a post with the name and home town of all of the soldiers who died on Juno Beach on June 06, 1944. As we walked amongst the names, we were all struck by the realization that we recognized a lot of the town names from home, and it was not just big cities represented, but small towns as well. The soldiers who stormed that beach 70 years ago came from across Canada, as did the youth in this delegation today. If we learned nothing else about the war today, it would have been that soldiers came from everywhere, and communities large and small would have felt the devastation of loss in the fight to bring democracy to the world.
– Loralea Wark, Whitehorse, YK; Beaverbrook Vimy Prize 2014

 

Learn more:

Juno Beach Centre

Veterans Affairs Canada