Vimy Pilgrimage Award Blog – 10 April 2018

 

 

After seven informative and incredible days, our 2018 VPA students said their goodbyes and departed for home early this morning. For the last blog entry of this program, we asked our new Vimy Pilgrimage Award alumni to describe their experience in one line.

(Please note: participants will blog in their mother tongue.)

 

Amy: Memorable, thought-provoking, emotional, connecting, and life changing are all words that best describe this experience!

Rohan: A beautiful experience that I will forever cherish!

Léa: Ce programme m’a tellement appris.

Sarah: I came into this program expecting to learn more about the First World War, but I emerged with tons of knowledge about the war, and Canada, 19 new friends, and memories that will last my entire life.

Damien: Cette experience m’a permis de vraiment comprendre la guerre et ses consequences, à la fois sur les gens et sur l’environment.

Stephanie: From the museums to the cemeteries and memorials, I learned more about the First World War and learned to think critically, more than I ever could have imagined.

Christophe: C’était une experience qui m’a ouvert les yeux à la puissance de l’histoire sur les victimes du passé, les apprenants du present et les leaders du future.

Thomas: C’est avec le coeur lourd que je quitte le vieu continent, mais sans regret d’avoir participé à ce programme extraordinaire.

Julia: This was a life-changing experience for me- I will carry the stories I’ve learned close to my heart for the rest of my life.

Osose: An amazing program that not many can experience and not all would appreciate; I’m so grateful.

Katie: This has been a jam-packed week that broadened my perspectives in thinking, strengthened my appreciation for history, and for those who it was a reality.

Kiana: I couldn’t have been more honoured to be chosen; I am so proud to be Canadian.

Montaña: I’m sad to go home but happy to have done the program.

Lloyd: I walk away from this program today with a greater appreciation for the Canadian forces, our country, and the blessing that is life itself.

Nupur: This experience has taught me a new dimension of what it means to remember and I will forever carry my experience of honouring those of the First World War.

Laurissa: This program has been an amazing experience for me; thanks to the Vimy Foundation, I had the opportunity to travel to the Vimy Memorial with students who share the same interests as me.

Jeriann: I will never forget the lessons I have learned, the amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities I have had, and the emotional moments I have shared with all of my new friends from across the country.

Shakil: Partaking in this pilgrimage has been one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life.

Markus: Don’t be sad that it’s over, be glad that it happened.

Bethany: I am very sure that I will never be the same or feel the same way as I did before the program, but in an amazing, wonderful, life-changing way.

 

 

Photo credit: Lindsay Fraser-Noel, Vimy Foundation 2018

 

April 2018 Poll Results

 

Despite the numerous events, ceremonies, and media coverage surrounding the April 2017 centennial anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, many Canadians are still unable to identify the Vimy Memorial.  According to a new Ipsos poll conducted for the Vimy Foundation, fewer than 2 in 10 Canadians (16%) could correctly identify the monument when shown a photo. This is down from 19% in 2017 poll conducted in the leadup to the centenary commemorations.

The monument at Vimy Ridge is featured on both the $20 bill and the $2 coin, and yet 70% of those polled were unwilling to even hazard a guess, saying that they ‘didn’t know’ the distinctive shape of the Vimy Memorial, one of Canada’s great examples of public art.

“During the Centennial year, the Vimy Foundation was encouraged to see that three quarters of Canadians said that the Battle of Vimy Ridge was an important anniversary for Canada,” said Jeremy Diamond, Executive Director. “Now is it the responsibility of all Canadians to ensure we keep alive the memory of those who served and sacrificed during the First World War. Today on Vimy Day, we encourage all Canadians to attend a local ceremony, wear a Vimy pin, visit a community museum or plan a trip to Vimy. Lest we forget.”

With recognition of the monument lowest among young people 18-34 (13%), programs and projects that help young Canadians engage with history will continue to be important. Numerous events are being held today across Canada, including an official ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. These activities demonstrate Canadians’ keen interest in ensuring we make good on the promise to never forget the brave generation who served Canada a century ago.

Click here to view the factum from Ipsos. 

 

For more information, please contact:

Jennifer Blake, Vimy Foundation
Communications Manager
jblake@vimyfoundation.ca
(416)595-1917 x361

 

#100DaysofVimy – February 27, 2017

Each Monday, we will share a brief biography of a soldier of the First World War with a Vimy connection. Today we honour Sachimaro Morooka.

Sachimaro Morooka was born in Tokyo on November 3, 1883. In 1906, he arrived in Canada settling in British Columbia where he worked as a fisherman along the Skeena River. In 1916 he enlisted with the 175th Battalion (Medicine Hat) in Calgary, Alberta in an effort to avoid the racial prejudice prevalent against the Japanese in British Columbia. The 175th arrived in France in 1916 and its men were absorbed into other Battalions as reinforcements.

Morooka fought at the Battle of Vimy Ridge with the 50th Battalion (Calgary), attacking Hill 145. During the attack he was hit by shrapnel from a rifle grenade through the right thigh, fracturing his femur, and was sent to hospital in England. While there, King George V and Queen Mary visited the hospital where Morooka was staying. A chance meeting, King George V was fascinated by Morooka and asked many questions of him: “Are you Japanese? Can you speak English? How is your wound? When did you join the Canadian Army?” Morooka was sent back to Canada due to the severity of his wounds and later wrote a memoir of his role in the war, titled “At the Battle of Arras” (Japanese Title: Arasu Sensen E).

The Medical History of Morooka taken from his service file, during his invalidation out of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Note the nature of his wound suffered at Vimy Ridge and the difficulty Morooka had in regaining his ability to walk. Credit: Personnel Records of the First World War, Library and Archives Canada, Reference Number: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 6380 – 25. Item Number: 204418.

 

The Passenger List of the S.S. Tremont, documenting Morooka’s immigration to Canada from Japan in 1906 at the age of 23. Credit: Courtesy of Ancestry.ca.

#100DaysofVimy – February 26, 2017

Each Sunday we will share a story of Remembrance. Part IV – Building The Vimy Memorial

With the arrival of the first shipments of Seget limestone in France, sculpting could finally begin for the Vimy Memorial in 1927. The blocks were first cut to size in work shops on the ground before being hoisted into position; the figures of the memorial were only sculpted once set in place atop the memorial. This required the construction of extensive studios, encircling the memorial’s two pylons and suspended nearly 200 feet in the air. A pantograph was used by the sculptors to reproduce Allward’s plaster models to scale.

 

Studios were suspended hundreds of feet in the air for the sculpting process. Credit: Central pylons enclosed, view from left. National Gallery of Canada.

 

 

Partially completed figures and remaining blocks indicate the amount of sculpting that had to be completed within the suspended studios. Credit: National Gallery of Canada. Gift of Peter Allward, 1986.

 

Sculptors used a pantograph, (partially visible at top of photo), to reproduce the figures. Allward’s plaster model can be seen on the right. Credit: Duplication of Female Mourner. National Gallery of Canada. Gift of Peter Allward, 1986.

 

#100DaysofVimy – February 6, 2017

Each Monday, we will share a brief biography of a soldier of the First World War with a Vimy connection. Today we honour Brigadier-General Alexander Ross.

Ross was six years old when his family immigrated from Scotland to Silton, Saskatchewan. A pre-war militia member, he served as a recruiting officer in 1914. Once in France, Ross commanded the 28th Battalion (Northwest) from 1916 – 1918. After the war, Ross returned to the law profession, being appointed District Judge of Yorkton. He was also a prominent figure in the Royal Canadian Legion, serving as Dominion President for four years and heading the Vimy Pilgrimage of 1936.

Ross is perhaps best known for his statement concerning the Battle of Vimy Ridge, made in 1967 on the 50th Anniversary of the battle: “It was Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific on parade. I thought then, and I think today, that in those few minutes I witnessed the birth of a nation.”

 

Casualty Forms from Alexander Ross' service file serve as a record of the number of times Ross was honoured with a Mention In Dispatches, as well as his awarding of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and later, a Bar to the DSO.  Credit: Personnel Records of the First World War, Library and Archives Canada, Reference Number: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 8466 - 1. Item Number: 609701.                                                       Photo 3 - Ross and other dignitaries descend the steps of the Vimy Memorial during its unveiling in 1936. Ross is in the second row, speaking with His Majesty, King Edward VIII. Credit:  National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque / Library and Archives Canada / PA-183542.
Ross and other dignitaries descend the steps of the Vimy Memorial during its unveiling in 1936. Ross is in the second row, speaking with His Majesty, King Edward VIII. Credit:  National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque / Library and Archives Canada / PA-183542.

 

#100DaysofVimy – February 5, 2017

Each Sunday we will share a story of Remembrance. This week begins a new series on the construction of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.

Part I – Building the Vimy Memorial

When Will R. Bird visited Vimy Ridge for Maclean’s Magazine in 1932, Walter Allward’s work on the Canadian National Vimy Memorial was well underway, having begun in 1925. But progress on the memorial had been slow and tedious, as Allward and his crew faced the same perils Bird had stumbled across during his tour of the trenches.

Littered with unexploded shells and grenades, rusted weapons and wire, 100,000 yards of earth had to be removed by hand to prepare for the monument’s base. Other relics of the war, the dugouts and tunnels, (when discovered), had to be emptied of the explosive munitions that were often stored within, and filled with wet chalk or concrete. Finding these underground caverns hidden beneath the monument’s base was crucial, for in total, the memorial would weigh more than 50,000 tons.

More to come next week!

Workers construct the Vimy Memorial's base foundation. Credit: Canada - Dept. of Veterans Affairs / Library and Archives Canada / e002852545
Workers construct the Vimy Memorial’s base foundation. Credit: Canada – Dept. of Veterans Affairs / Library and Archives Canada / e002852545

#100DaysofVimy – January 31, 2017

Each Tuesday, we will feature a place in Canada (or international!) with a Vimy Ridge connection. Today we highlight an international Vimy connection – in Arkansas, United States.

After the battle of Vimy Ridge, the news of the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s achievement flashed across the globe. Both in Canada and abroad, people felt compelled to honour the monumental occasion. A common gesture at the time was to re-name a community building. In Arkansas, USA, the Germania Missionary Baptist Church did just that, re-naming itself the Vimy Ridge Missionary Baptist Church in 1917. The community went even one step further, re-naming both its post office and the road upon which it was situated to “Vimy Ridge”.

 

Vimy Ridge Missionary Baptist Church. Courtesy of Google Maps.
Vimy Ridge Missionary Baptist Church. Courtesy of Google Maps.

 

Vimy Ridge Missionary Baptist Church. Courtesy of Google Maps.
Vimy Ridge Missionary Baptist Church. Courtesy of Google Maps.

#100DaysofVimy – January 30, 2017

Each Monday, we will share a brief biography of a soldier of the First World War with a Vimy connection. Today we honour Brigadier-Magistrate Oliver Milton Martin.

Oliver Milton Martin was a Mohawk of the Six Nations Grand River Reserve. Taking a leave from his job as a school teacher, Martin enlisted in 1916 with his two brothers. Martin was first an officer in the 114th Battalion (Haldimand), also known as “Brock’s Rangers” due to its high concentration of First Nations volunteers. In 1917, he was trained as an observer in the Royal Flying Corps and the following year qualified as a pilot.

After the war, Martin returned to teaching, while remaining in the Militia and taking command of the Haldimand Rifles in 1930. During the early years of the Second World War, Colonel Martin oversaw the training of new recruits at Niagara-on-the-Lake. Martin retired from service in 1944 with the rank of Brigadier. After the Second World War he was appointed the Provincial Magistrate in Ontario for the counties of York, Halton and Peel. As a Brigadier, Martin held the highest rank ever attained by a First Nations man in the Canadian Forces. In his honour, the East York branch of the Royal Canadian Legion is named the Brigadier O. Martin Branch.

 

Then-Lieutenant Martin, (sitting on left) posing with fellow oficers of the 107th Battalion (Winnipeg), July 1916. Note the knee-high mud on their boots - Martin spent 7 months in France & Belgium. Photo sourced from: “Canada’s Great War Album” Project, Canada’s History.
Then-Lieutenant Martin, (sitting on left) posing with fellow oficers of the 107th Battalion (Winnipeg), July 1916. Note the knee-high mud on their boots – Martin spent 7 months in France & Belgium. Photo sourced from: “Canada’s Great War Album” Project, Canada’s History.

#100DaysofVimy – January 29, 2017

Each Sunday we will share a story of Remembrance.

Part II – Will R. Bird’s “Thirteen Years After” (Missed last week? Read Part I here).

Touring the old battlefields for Maclean’s Magazine in 1932, Bird found the scars of war remained throughout the countryside. Of Vimy, Bird wrote: “the Ridge seemed to me the most isolated ground in France… The hillside in front was scarred with white streaks – old roads and footways that time has not erased. I climbed, slipping and sliding on the wet, greasy soil… On and on and on… in and out of shell holes, skirting the bigger ones, marvelling that such conditions remained…  one sees old wire and iron stakes, battered helmets, and old mess-tin covers. Here and there a broken bayonet… Bombs of every kind” (Bird, Thirteen Years After, 107).

And still 13 years after, always more bodies of the dead. “Two boys visited Givenchy Wood last summer, and while playing there found a German and Canadian soldier lying together, their hands locked so tightly that they were buried together as they had died… One, or both, had been badly wounded, and they were trying to help each other when death overtook them. No weapons were there… They had died as comrades” (Bird, Thirteen Years After, 108).

 

29-01-2017

 

 

#100DaysofVimy – January 28, 2017

Each Saturday, we’ll share some reflections from our past student participants about the impact of their visit to Vimy Ridge and other sites of the First World War.

Andrew Yin travelled to Europe as part of the Vimy Foundation’s 2016 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize. Andrew’s experiences fostered an emotional connection with a Canadian soldier of 100 years ago: “I chose J.B. Hill, a First Nations man as the soldier I would commemorate.  Having not been born in Canada, I don’t have any familial connections with the soldiers who fought in the war. However, the months of researching the life of J.B. Hill connected me to his experiences.  I started to see him as a friend. Visiting the cemetery where he is buried, I felt that I was visiting an old friend. I feel sad that he sacrificed his young life, but also proud of his contributions to our nation. The process of paying tribute to him furthered my appreciation of the brave individuals who put our country before themselves, and fought for our nation’s future.”

Read more in this article from Inside Belleville: “MBQ Council receives touching tribute to Aboriginal soldier“, November 29, 2016

 

Andrew Yin at the Vimy Memorial. Photo courtesy of Andrew Yin.
Andrew Yin at the Vimy Memorial. Photo courtesy of Andrew Yin.