Announcing our 2019 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Recipients!

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2019 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize! 16 students were selected to participate in an immersive educational program in Belgium and France. From August 7-20, 2019, they will learn about our history during the First and Second World War.

Alliya Arifa – Ouroux sur Saone, France
Meaghan Bulger – Charlottetown, PE
Maya Burgess-Stansfield – Uxbridge, ON
Phillip Darley – Hamilton, ON
Evan Dicesare – Stephenville, NL
Andelina Habel-Thurton – Montréal, QC
Rose He – Fredericton, NB
Nimra Hooda – Edmonton, AB
Andréa Jackson – Orillia, ON
Noah Korver – Olds, AB
Sophia Long – Pinawa, MB
Lily Maguire – London, England
Jack Roy – Fredericton, NB
Isaac St-Jean – Prévost, QC
Florence Trigaux – Rimouski, QC
Nathan Yee – Vancouver, BC

There were so many impressive applications that once again choosing only 16 participants was extremely difficult. We thank all those who applied and demonstrated their hard work and dedication.

This program is made possible due to generous support from the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation.

March 26 – Propaganda during the Great War
First World War Centennial Speaker Series

On March 26, 2019, historians Marie-Eve Chagnon and Guillaume Marceau of the collective “Les échos de l’Histoire” spoke with guests at the Chateau Ramezay in Montreal about Propaganda during the Great War. These two experts analyzed the historiography surrounding the issue of atrocities in Belgium and the Manifesto of 93, a German document published in October 1914, and examined the importance given to the Canadian side in concept of atrocities in propaganda.

Marie-Eve Chagnon is an independent researcher. She completed her Ph.D. at Concordia University in Montreal in April 2012 and was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Canadian Center for German and European Studies at the Université de Montréal from 2012-2014. Her research focuses on the history of international scientific relations and more specifically on the impact of the First World War on the German and French scientific communities. Her current research analyzes the role played by the American scientific community in the process of reconciliation after the First World War. Since 2019, she co-founded the Echoes of History with Guillaume Marceau.

Guillaume Marceau is a lecturer, independent researcher and lecturer (Concordia, UQÀM, UQO, UdeM). He completed a Master’s degree in History at UQÀM in 2007. His research focuses on the world wars of the 20th century and more specifically on the relationship of liberal democracies with the phenomenon of propaganda between 1914 and 1950. His current work analyzes the issues of cultural myths in international relations and the impact of globalization on the national historical memory. Since 2019, he has co-founded Echoes of History with Marie-Eve Chagnon, PhD.

As the Canadian War Museum notes, “All combatant nations use propaganda in wartime to encourage citizens to make sacrifices and contributions to hasten victory or endure defeat. Governments and private organizations produce or commission posters and other items to support recruitment, promote military production, inform citizens about proper conduct, and assure people that their governments are taking appropriate action.”

Type of dummy used in Canadian Forces for instructing troops in Bayonet fighting, designed and constructed by Q.M.S. E. Drake 4th Reserve Battalion. Lt.-Col. H.G. Mayes Canadian Army Gymnastic Staff. Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/ PA-004782. (modified from the original).

As R.H. Thomson writes in They Fought in Colour, “So why did they do it? Why did all those young Canadians head off to war? Some did it because they believed the jingoistic slogans of the day. “For King and Country” was the favourite, especially for those newly arrived from Britain who had just started a new home on our side of the Atlantic. Others did it because they needed a job — and this one paid relatively well, plus there was the promise of “room and board.” Still others did it because their pals were doing it. They all did it because when the call went out in August 1914, everyone believed the war would be wrapped up and won by Christmas and they’d all be home for the holidays. But no, that’s not what happened.” (p. 262)

Enlist! New Names in Canadian History : recruitment campaign. Library and Archives Canada. Item number 2894450.

Recruitment and morale were important themes throughout the propaganda efforts of the First World War. Watch as Guillaume Marceau speaks at length about the ways different events are presented and remembered by various groups during the First World War. In this case, he looks at the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915.

This wartime recruitment poster (CWM 19670086-007) demonstrates how the British transformed the sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania by a German U-Boat on 7 May 1915 into a wide spread propaganda campaign.

Here, we see the German postcard of the sinking of the Lusitania that Guillaume Marceau referred to in his lecture above:

 

Not only was propaganda a tool for recruitment, food and factory production, and donations, but during the First World War in particular, atrocity propaganda was widespread. Exaggeration and invention of atrocities often becomes the main staple of the propaganda efforts, and during the early stages of the war it played a major role in creating the waves of patriotism that characterized 1914/1915.

Marie-Eve Chagnon spoke about the wartime events taking place in Belgium, and the different ways that these actions were reported on and reacted to in Germany versus Britain, in particular the form of spontaneous propaganda, rather than official state-issued news and posters.

Belgium, a neutral state, was forced into the First World War by a German ultimatum. What is referred to as “the Rape of Belgium” was the German mistreatment of civilians during the invasion and subsequent occupation of Belgium during the First World War. British and Allied media reported widely on the atrocities taking place at the hands of German soldiers.

But in response, German intellectuals produced the ‘Manifesto 93’ of October 1914. This was a proclamation endorsed by 93 prominent German scientists, scholars and artists, declaring their unequivocal support of German military actions in the early periods of the war. It begins, “As representatives of German Science and Art, we hereby protest to the civilized world against the lies and calumnies with which our enemies are endeavoring to stain the honour of Germany in her hard struggle for existence — in a struggle that has been forced on her.”

You can read the English translation of the Manifesto, as well as see the full list of signatories here from Wikipedia.

While the events that took place in Belgium were clearly reported differently on both sides, after the war it is more the traumatic experience of the soldiers in the trenches that take precedence over our collective memories of the war, according to Marie-Eve Chagnon. It is not until the 1990s with the renewed interest in addressing war crimes in the Balkans and violence in the Canadian residential school system that there is again interest in looking at the controversial issue of the atrocities of 1914.

 

Discussion questions and activities:

– Peruse the collection of propaganda posters of the Canadian War Museum. Do you see any common themes emerge? Choose one poster that speaks strongly to you and analyze the words and images. Who is this poster trying to influence? Why would the designer have chosen those particular words or images? Do you think this would have been an influential poster during the First World War? Why or why not?

– As discussed in our previous First World War Centennial Speaker Series, photography of the First World War was another important way of controlling and disseminating information from the war front to the home front. Look through the selection of images online at the Vimy Foundation’s First World War in Colour collection. What messages were the photographers trying to convey to people back in Canada with these images? Do you think they would have been successful in motivating peoples’ emotions?

– Using newspaper archive sources like Google, can you find news articles from May and June 1915 about the sinking of the Lusitania? Are there particular images or words used by the newspapers to emphasize the wartime atrocity?

– Overall, do you think that propaganda changed the course of the war?  If so, why and how?  If not, why not?

– Do you think propaganda can be found in our society today? Although propaganda takes many forms, it can recognized by its use of techniques that activate strong emotions, simplify ideas, respond to audience needs, and attack opponents. Consider social media, news media, and other sources. Brainstorm with your classmates some recent examples of propaganda.

 

 

 

Thank you to our supporters of the First World War Centennial Speaker Series: The Government of Canada and the R. Howard Webster Foundation.

 

Administrative Assistant

 

We are currently looking for an Administrative Assistant to join our team. The role encompasses front line administration and donor management, as well as basic bookkeeping. Reporting to the Executive Director, Programs Manager and Communications Manager, this position will be a key member of the team working with and supporting management.

Salary: $33-36k commensurate with experience.
Location: Montreal, QC

 

 

 

RESPONSIBILITIES

– Donor relations: act as first point of contact; monitor, sort, and respond to donor inquiries via email and phone. Prepare and send tax receipts, invoices, and receipts.

– Process payments from merchandise sales and donations; sort, record, and file transactions using payment processing platform and bookkeeping software.

– Basic bookkeeping (payables and receivables): maintain books, records, financial reporting.

– General administration: first point of contact with donors and suppliers; fielding questions; tracking and organizing donor information; updating donor contact list; coordinating shipments.

– Prepare expense reports; draft emails and letters; update contact database; coordinate meetings; file documents; etc.

– Record, transcribe, and synthesize board meeting minutes.

– Support management and board directors with administrative needs.

– Assist with special projects as needed.

– Represent the foundation at special events and commemorative ceremonies as needed.

 

SKILLS AND QUALIFICATIONS RELATED TO THE POSITION

– Post-secondary degree in a related area and previous administrative experience in a fast-paced environment preferred.

– Bilingual (French/English)

– Excellent oral and written communication skills.

– Pleasant disposition, welcoming, hospitable, able to work in fast paced environment with diverse task list. Good communication skills.

– Discrete, polished demeanor, respectful, ability to interact with diverse personality types.

– Strong organizational skills, detail oriented, highly efficient.

– Ability to work independently and to follow direction.

– Excellent time management, able to meet deadlines.

– Attention to detail and ability to handle confidential and sensitive information.

– Knowledge of Sage50 an asset.

– Strong knowledge of the MS Office Suite, including Word, Outlook, and Excel.

– Stripe, Square, MailChimp, WordPress, Wufoo, Survey Monkey, etc. an asset.

If this offer interests you, please send your CV to vimy@vimyfoundation.ca with “Administrative Assistant Candidate” and your name in the subject line. Deadline to apply is end of day, Sunday, May 12, 2019. 

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

 

 

The 9th Annual Vimy Reception

 

Over 150 government officials, business leaders, military personnel, and students attended the ninth annual Vimy Reception at the stunning Embassy of France on Vimy Day, April 9. Thank you to our host, Her Excellency Kareen Rispal, Ambassador of France to Canada, and to our guest speakers: R.H. Thomson, President of The World Remembers, and Katie Quinn, 2018 Vimy Pilgrimage Award winner. The generous hospitality of the Government of France, combined with the opportunity to share many personal stories about Vimy, made for a memorable experience.

“While visiting museums, monuments, and cemeteries in Belgium and northern France, what hit me hardest was knowing that we were in the exact same places where a century ago soldiers, many of whom were my age, lived, fought, and in some cases ultimately gave their lives. Each of them was there for a reason, each of them had their own story, and each of them left an indelible mark on Canadian and world history. Precisely one year ago today, I was standing in front of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial  with my peers and chaperones, all of us walking in silence through the mist and around the memorial. We could hardly see through all the fog which created a ghost-like atmosphere; the past felt like it was right there for us to reach out and grab a hold of.”

— Katie Quinn, 2018 Vimy Pilgrimage Award

This year’s reception was the first we have hosted on Vimy Ridge Day itself, April 9. Public awareness of Vimy has grown significantly since the Government of Canada formally declared “Vimy Ridge Day” in 2003, and we are so pleased to be able to provide opportunities for Canadians to take part in its commemoration each year.

Thank you to Evan Runge for the beautiful violin music. Thank you to the 137 Ashbury Royal Canadian Dragoons Army Cadets who were able to join us again this year.

 

Please click here to view photos from this year’s event

 

Thank you to our sponsors of the 2019 Vimy Reception:

 

 

Centennial Park Design Competition – Spring 2019

*NEW: Design Competition – Spring 2019*

The Vimy Foundation is proud to announce a Canadian student design competition by an individual or a team, for a water feature for the Vimy Foundation Centennial Park, Vimy Ridge, France. This element is proposed to be unveiled in 2020.

The design competition and installation of this design in the Vimy Foundation Centennial Park is sponsored by The Love Family Foundation and is organized by the Vimy Foundation.

Submission: A 3-D illustrated design concept, and all detail design and construction drawings and specifications to permit manufacturing, assembly, construction and installation in France.

Contest Opens: April 11, 2019 

Submission Deadline: June 12, 2019

Questions? Contact us at info@vimyfoundation.ca.   See below for previous answered questions.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL INSTRUCTIONS HERE (pdf)

ANNEX A. Graphic Materials

Photo by Pascal Brunet, April 2019

Answered Questions

The design brief states design of “i or ii”. Can I incorporate both areas into the design, or is it strictly one or the other?

It is strictly one or the other.

With respect to the median between the two pathways, the area near the sculpture of the Bugler is somewhat constrained from a pedestrian movement point of view and the design of any new feature in this area will need to address this.  The pathways can be no less than what is shown as they are the minimum to meet universal access in France. 

It should be noted that an earlier concept for the park did not propose a median or two pathways but a single large pathway that would have combined the surface area of the two pathways and of the median, this for both sides of the central circle. Any concept for a water element in the median area would ideally also achieve two wider pathways or some sort of consolidated ‘single pathway-water element’ concept and would also propose as a future design phase the treatment of the median and pathways south of the circle, in order to achieve a fully integrated concept for the median and pathway areas located on both sides of the central circle.

It must be understood that if there are two pathways they must provide clear unobstructed passage at no less than the existing width (1.5 m.) shown on the attached plan and if there is a single pathway resulting from the removal of the planted median it must provide clear unobstructed passage on both of its sides at no less than the width shown (i.e. 1.5m. on both sides).

 

Is the expectation that we formulate a schedule of work and cost estimate based on French numbers, i.e., that we research information about what our proposal water feature would cost and what a schedule of work would look like in France?

The schedule of work between September 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020 is for all work in France. Once the design competition is closed and the winner identified, all subsequent steps will be carried out in France unless specified otherwise in this design competition.   

However, proposals do not need to take into account information about potential permit delays in France (which likely isn’t public information) or other country-specific research; rather, the schedule of work needs to demonstrate that unexpected bureaucratic delays notwithstanding, that the design is doable in the time allotted.

It is important to anticipate and factor in time for dialogue, reviews (for example of materials and finishes), incremental approvals, preparation of additional explanatory drawings or sketches, verifications, and other steps required by customary planning, permit, design and construction processes, by the Vimy Foundation and its representatives.

The cost estimate may be in Canadian dollars but it must not exceed the upset limit specified in this design competition. Several preferred competition proposals and their estimates will be submitted by The Vimy Foundation to Builder(s)/Manufacturer(s)/Contractor(s)/Installer(s) in France for their own cost estimates or bids to carry out the proposed work. This information will inform the Vimy Foundation jury in its final determination.

Vimy Pilgrimage Award Blog – 10 April 2019

After an incredible week, our VPA 2019 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; read their thoughts here. (Please note: participants will blog in their language of preference.)

The program provided a modern perspective to the First World War, as while the devastation of war was a prominent theme, topics of present day reconciliation were also addressed, which is not always the case in school.

— Navjot Kaur Khaira, Surrey BC

 

This experience completely transformed my perception of the First World War and truly taught me that this legacy is all of ours to remember.

— Keneisha Charles, Kelowna, BC

 

Le programme a dépassé mes attentes; nous avons eu la chance de partager des opportunités fantastiques avec 20 Canadiens qui viennent de partout au Canada et qui étaient gagnants du Prix du pèlerinage de Vimy.

— Brooke Glazier, North Vancouver, BC

 

This program has been such a life changing experience; I have learned and acquired more information in a week than any history class could ever teach me.

— Elizabeth Gagné, Regina, SK

 

Le programme m’a menée à porter un regard différent sur la Première Guerre mondiale et m’a permis de rencontrer des personnes exceptionnelles : cette expérience a été fantastique !

— Rosalie Gendron, Lévis, QC

 

Ce programme a été immensément amusant, et j’ai absolument adoré tous les monuments, cimetières et musées.

— Aidan Hupé, Whitehorse, Yukon

 

I was so honoured to be able to take part in this program- in which I was able to gain so many new perspectives about Canada and the First World War.

— Faith Emiry, Massey, Ontario

 

The program not only exceeded my expectations, but it opened my eyes to the atrocities of the first world war- especially the casualties from both sides.

— Declan Sander, Lethbridge, Alberta

 

During the Vimy Pilgrimage Award 2019 I learned so much about the First World War and I will never forget this experience- I can’t wait to share my stories about this amazing program with others.

— Gillian Huppee, Foam Lake, Saskatchewan

 

The Vimy Pilgrimage Award program creates the perfect learning environment for youth, welcoming them into an open environment that emphasizes remembrance and respect for the First World War and the people who served in it.

— David Pugh, Brantford, Ontario

 

This experience has been truly amazing; I now have a different perspective on the First World War and know that the legacy of the soldiers must be remembered by all so that their sacrifice was not in vain.

— Katie Clyburne, Halifax NS

 

The Vimy Pilgrimage Award has been everything I hoped for; learning about Canada, fostering a greater appreciation for the sacrifices made during the First World War, visiting important gravesites, and making new friends from across Canada – overall an experience I will never forget and will always cherish.

— Theo Thompson-Armstrong, Halifax NS

 

Through all the cemeteries, museums and monuments, I learned of the many social and cultural effects of the First World War and their effects on both Canadians and the rest of the world.

— Eric Weidmann Fort Saskatchewan, AB

 

The Vimy Pilgrimage Award helped me gain a deeper level of understanding on how to approach and analyze history; because we were taught how to think, not what to think.

— Joon Sohn, Surrey BC

 

I learned so much from this program including how to think critically and how to consider multiple perspectives of the First World War.

— Cassandra Gillen, Pointe-Claire QC

 

Reflecting on the week as a whole, I’ve grown drastically with my critically thinking skills as well as communication. To be there, on the battlefield where history took place 102 years ago adds a new sense of depth to my learning as well as my personal development.

— David He, Burnaby BC

 

What an experience that has changed my life forever; I am so pleased to have been chosen for the Vimy Pilgrimage Award so I can learn so many things about the First World War and now be able to teach people about my experience and about what these men truly went through during those four deadly years.

— Andrew Poirier, Haldimand County, ON

 

Comment décrire une expérience qui, en une semaine, nous fait développer des liens profonds avec des gens complètement inconnus, qui nous permet de comprendre la chance qu’on a d’être soi-même en 2019, qui fait énormément grandir et met un terme au passé sans jamais l’oublier et nous permet de continuer vers l’avant?

— Emma Roy, Ste-Sophie, QC

 

It was an experience of a lifetime as I was able to learn about the history of the First World War, commemorate those who fought for our freedom, and make friendships that will last forever.

— Stephanie Budden, Stephenville, NL

 

Participating in the Vimy Pilgrimage Award has taught me much more about not just the First World War but also its consequences, and it has greatly helped to shift my perspective on understanding the importance of international relations in the past, present, and future.

— Zachary Collins, Toronto, ON

Vimy Pilgrimage Award Blog – 9 April 2019

On the last day of the program, the VPA 2019 students visited the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, a very important and moving experience. The group visited the Vimy Education Centre, the new Vimy Centennial Park and participated in a ceremony commemorating the 102nd anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge where Aidan and Keneisha read the Commitment to Remember as Eric, Zach, and Rosalie laid a wreath. Later in the day, they visited the Maison Blanche underground tunnels and the Neuville St-Vaast German Cemetery. Read the students’ posts from Theo, Zachary, David He and Keneisha. (Please note: participants will blog in their language of preference.)

Today was an amazing day to finish the 2019 Vimy Pilgrimage. It started off with visiting the Memorial at Vimy Ridge, which has always promised to be one of the most spectacular sights of the program, and it did not disappoint. Many people who I spoke to before about their Vimy experiences said that seeing it can change your life, fill you with emotions, and overall profoundly impact you. I can now say this for myself, as today’s experience has been incredible. When we arrived, we took half an hour to experience the monument alone, undistracted by phones and people. During this time, I took time to reflect on why the monument is so incredible, and quickly realized it is not about the monument itself, but what is represents. 3,598 Canadian soldiers died on April 9, 1917 at Vimy, and 102 years later for so many young people to be in that very place, thinking about their sacrifice, is a testament that their memory will not be forgotten. Today near the end of the day I also had the most important part of the program for myself, which was visiting the grave of my relative Alfred Snow Churchill who died on April 9, 1917. I am one of very few, if not the first family member to visit his grave, and it is an experience I will always cherish.

Theo Thompson-Armstrong, Halifax NS

 

April 9. Vimy Day. The final day of the program. For myself, the day of my second, original soldier presentation. Private Fenton Brownell is the solider I wrote about in my application to the Award, and the soldier that helped to bring me here. After the Battle of Vimy Ridge Ceremony, we headed to a few cemeteries to finish up soldier presentations. Entering Nine Elms Military Cemetery in Pas-de-Calais, I could not help but feel slightly emotional as I knew that Brownell was now nearby. To see his grave, as well as that nearby of his brother, Charles, was a moment at which I realized I had been anticipating since I first found out that I would be heading to Europe. Detailing the life and death of Fenton and his brother, as well as another buried elsewhere, was something I can describe only as heartbreaking. I could never imagine losing two family members on the same day, and a third just months later. Reading aloud the fictional letter I wrote from Fenton’s mother to him, I felt my eyes water as I knew that while the situation I described may not have been a reality for the Brownell family, it surely occurred for many families affected by the Great War. I hope that by telling these stories and ensuring the legacies of soldiers are never forgotten, we can prevent such events from occurring again in the future.

Zachary Collins, Toronto ON

 

Today marked the 102nd anniversary of the start of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a battle that would go down in history, textbooks and even passports alike. The whole week that we were in Europe, we learned about the importance of this battle as well as the history, controversy and debates behind the First World War. For the events today, the ceremony seemed surreal. I’ve seen the ceremonies, the events all on TV but to be there in person with the armed forces, dignitaries and veterans, it was truly an amazing experience that I will not forget. It was also a great feeling to finally hear our tour guides speak with a Canadian accent! Standing there at the memorial, it felt Canadian. The mist, the fog in the air resembled what I would typically see in British Columbia. It felt like home. I always try to imagine and put myself in the shoes of those who’ve been through these battles and these experiences. I certainly felt as if I was at home, standing on top of the carefully carved stairs. Maybe, I imagine, those soldiers would feel the same. Across the Atlantic, maybe, the battles felt Canadian. At the end of the day, today was an experience and a time of reflection for myself as well as my peers. Sometimes, we need to feel as if we were home in order to fight a battle far from home.

David He, Burnaby, BC

 

Today was the pinnacle of the Vimy Pilgrimage program. Although I was aware of Vimy’s legendary status as the “birth of a nation”, I wasn’t expecting to be so profoundly affected by the sight of the monument.

It was like a living thing, rising out of the fog. Plaques read around the pillars: dates, battles, names. Distantly, a bell tolls.

As I stood there with these people I have mourned with, celebrated with, learned with over this past week, I was struck by the sudden realization that this is ours.

In a time where all of our First World War veterans have passed, this is our history to live or let die. The past is written here, in the stone and the grass— its trauma and its truth. How do we give that meaning? How do we reconcile past and present— present and future?

We remember.

We gather in a circle around a headstone in a cemetery along a dirt road and learn about a life now long gone. We stand in a trench and hold an umbrella over each other’s heads. We descend eight meters down and trace stone once touched by people we once knew.

We grow— together.

I didn’t realize how much I had grown until standing beside Mother Canada at the peak of the Vimy Memorial.

Before this journey, I did not believe that I had a place in Canadian history. Then I met Private Vincent Carvery and Private Aubrey Mitchell of the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s first and only Black battalion.

They created a space for me in history. They are the reason why later, I was honoured to present the Commitment of Remembrance at the ceremony. As I overlooked the audience, I felt a swell of pride to be here on equal ground representing their legacy. As I gazed at my fellow participants, each symbolically holding with them soldiers or nursing sisters, I felt the weight of all their legacies now on our shoulders.

I realized today that it’s not about the Battle of Vimy Ridge at all.

It’s about us.

The people we carry with us, the places we trace steps— the story that we are creating together.

This is the power of the Vimy memorial. 

Keneisha Charles, Kelowna, BC

March 12 – Photography in the First World War
First World War Centennial Speaker Series

On March 12, 2019, historian and curator Carla-Jean Stokes of the Historic O’Keefe Ranch and expert digital colourist Mark Truelove of Canadian Colour spoke with guests at the Vancouver Public Library about photography during the First World War.

 

Carla-Jean Stokes has explained how the First World War was different than previous conflicts with the availability of personal cameras: “The First World War was the first major conflict in which large number of soldiers knew how to use a camera—due primarily to the release of the Kodak Brownie in 1900. In 1912, the Eastman Kodak Company introduced the Vest Pocket Kodak camera, and in 1914 it was marketed specifically to soldiers to make photographic souvenirs of their time at the front. Sales of this tiny camera (designed to fit inside a vest pocket) exploded—an estimated one in five Allied officers carried one.”

She started the lecture by explaining why it is important to learn more about the individual photo.

Once private photography was banned on the Western Front, Canada appointed official war photographers. Here, Carla-Jean Stokes explains how our official war photography began, and about the three primary photographers of the First World War for Canadian records.

Canada employed three official photographers between 1916 and 1918—Captain Harry Knobel (from April-August 1916); Captain William Ivor Castle (from August 1916-June 1917); and Lieutenant William Rider-Rider (from June 1917-November 1918). Together they produced over 4000 photographs of Canadians at war that were printed in newspapers, sold as souvenirs and put on exhibition. Each of the official photographs has a negative number—usually visible in a corner—that begins with an “O” and is followed by the number it was received by the CWRO (O-1450 was the 1450th photograph received by the organization from the photographers).

The original negatives and prints created by Canada’s official photographers are now housed at Library and Archives Canada. Users can find images online using LAC’s archives search with keywords like “Battle of Vimy Ridge” or “Prisoner of War” or “Canadian War Records Office.”

In 2015, the Vimy Foundation began a unique project: “The First World War in Colour”. We aimed to add colour to digital photographs from the First World War – both the official war photographs held at Library and Archives Canada as well as those from the home front, held by local archives across the country. The digital colourist who worked on this project was Mark Truelove of Canadian Colour.

In this video, he explains why he began colourizing digital photos and why people find it so appealing:

Mark Truelove also describes how he determines what the correct colours in the photograph should be:

“When I first receive a photo the first thing I look at is the overall quality of the image. Many First World War photos are damaged and need to be repaired. This may involve fixing scratches, removing dust particles or correcting for fading. Once that is done I use any description that comes with the photo to figure out the time of year it was taken and if a date is known I will look up the weather on that date, which will help me later with getting the lighting right.

If there are Canadian soldiers in the photo, I will use a variety of sources to find out details of their uniforms i.e. formation patches, cap colours, etc. There are some great resources online for those, but one of my best resources is a book called “Military Antiques and Collectables of the Great War – Canadian Collection” by J. Victor Taboika. For the tricky stuff, I am also fortunate to be able to ask Caitlin Bailey, Curator at the Canadian Centre for the Great War, for her expert opinion.”

A Tank passing 8th Field Ambulance, Hangard. Battle of Amiens. August, 1918. William Rider-Rider. Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-002888 (modified from the original by Canadian Colour).

 

Discussion Questions & Activities:

—  Carla-Jean Stokes brings up the issue of photo manipulation and photo staging during the First World War. Why do you think the photographers of the First World War would have done this? Do you think the public, seeing these photos, believed them to be true representations of what war was like?

— Nowadays, people are more familiar with programs like Photoshop, and we are familiar with images being adjusted for magazines, for example. Do you think governments and politicians can ‘get away with’ manipulating photos that are shared with the public? Can you think of any recent examples?

—  We are used to everyone having a camera in their pocket on a smart phone. Imagine what it would have been like to have attempted a ban on private photography in 1916. Do you think soldiers were willing to leave their cameras at home? Do you think a ban on private war photography nowadays would be possible?

—  Imagine you were a war photographer during the First World War, sent over on your own with a camera to document what was taking place on the Western Front. What subjects would you be most interested in? For example, during and after the Battle of Vimy Ridge, photographer Ivor Castle took many photos of the prisoners of war. Why do you think he was more interested in the German prisoners than the Canadian casualties?

—  Colourizing photos, by necessity, requires the alteration of primary source documents. While all attempts are made to be as historically accurate as possible, there is no doubt that the photographs are changed. Use the Vimy 100 in the Classroom guide on ‘Photography in the First World War‘ to analyze the photos and the addition of colour.

Thank you to the Government of Canada and the R. Howard Webster Foundation for their support of the First World War Centennial Speaker Series.

Vimy Pilgrimage Award Blog – 8 April 2019

Still in France, our VPA 2019 recipients visited the Battle of Hill 70 Memorial and the Cabaret-Rouge Cemetery. In the afternoon, the students visited more sites including the French military cemetery Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, the Ring of Remembrance, and Cherisy. Read the students’ posts about their experiences. (Please note: participants will blog in their language of preference).

Aujourd’hui, nous sommes allés au Mémorial de la Côte 70. Je pense que ce monument était très intéressant à visiter parce que c’est un événement pas très connu. Le mémorial est dans un parc au nord de la France. Dans ce parc, il y avait un monument canadien qui a été créé cent ans après la guerre. La figure était située 70 mètres au-dessus du niveau de la mer pour représenter où la bataille était battue. Autour de ce monument, il y avait des petits détails qui représentent le Canada ; les feuilles d’érable et le drapeau du Canada étaient dessinés au sol.

Quand on était en devant du monument, nous avons parlé de l’efficacité du monument. Moi, je pense que ce monument est efficace en termes d’être respectueux aux soldats qui sont morts. Mais, je pense que par rapport aux informations pour le public, le monument n’est pas efficace. Toutes les informations que j’ai apprises sur le monument ont été grâce aux accompagnateurs et accompagnatrices du programme. Un des buts de ce monument est d’éduquer le public sur une bataille, mais l’héritage de la bataille ne peut pas être compris par la majorité des personnes. Je pense que ce monument a un grand potentiel d’être efficace pour la commémoration d’une bataille oubliée avec quelques changements de présentation pour le public.

Brooke Glazier, North Vancouver BC

 

580 000 – a number that can represent the population of a village, city, or in some cases an entire country. But that number also represents 580 000 brave young men who were loved brothers, fathers, and uncles, all with stories to tell. The Ring of Remembrance pays tribute to these soldiers and the unique memorial makes no distinction between their nationalities and rank. Standing on the platform at the entrance, I was surrounded by panels decorated with the names of fallen soldiers. With every step, more names came into focus and a flood of emotions washed over me. Feelings of sorrow and sympathy were prominent throughout the visit and stayed with me throughout the day. It was also at this memorial that I recognized the names of fallen Sikh soldiers, for the first time, which added a personal connection to the experience.

In addition to its ability to pay tribute those who sacrificed their life, the memorial extends to serve as a metaphor for the present day. Those who may have been enemies in past are now listed side by side, pointing to the trend of reconciliation between nations over the years. The Ring of Remembrance perfectly depicts the horrors of war but also illustrates humanity’s ability to move past tragedy, making it one of the most impactful sites I have visited during the program.

Navjot Kaur Khaira, Surrey BC

 

 

Today we visited the Bagneux British Cemetery where Emma presented a tribute for her nursing sister. Bagneux, as I later found out, happens to be one of the only cemeteries with headstones of Canadian nursing sisters. I felt this was a really important monument because the service and sacrifice of our nursing sisters are generally less well-known and perhaps, less appreciated. This is despite the fact that nursing sister also faced the same risks of death and injury as well as tough living conditions. When I checked the registers of cemeteries across the Western Front similar to this one, most were last signed around November 2018! The similar fact that 20 students from the homeland of nursing sisters travelled all the way to France to commemorate and honour the nursing sisters is actually really special. This cemetery may not have even seen 20 visitors this entire year! I am extremely grateful to have this privilege of doing so, and look forward to presenting the soldiers I’ve researched tomorrow.

Joon Hyeong Sohn, Surrey BC

 

 

Vimy Pilgrimage Award Blog – 7 April 2019

Today, our VPA2019 recipients visited Historial de la Grande Guerre and participated in an artefact workshop. In the afternoon, they toured Beaumont-Hamel with Canadian guide Miriam from Veterans Affairs Canada and visited Thiepval, the Courcelette Canadian Memorial, and the Lochnagar Crater Memorial. Read the students’ posts here. (Please note: participants will blog in their language of preference).

 

Aujourd’hui a été une journée bien remplie. On est allés à Beaumont-Hamel, le gros monument pour Terre-Neuve, on est allés au monument de Thiepval, un monument britannique et français, et de plus on est allés à l’Historial de la Grande Guerre, où on a pu interagir avec des artéfacts vieux de plus de cent ans !

Mais pour moi, la plus importante partie de la journée a été ma présentation sur mon soldat, mon arrière-arrière oncle, Henri Plouffe. Henri Plouffe était un Canadien-français, né le 16 septembre 1885, à St-Anne, un petit village au Manitoba. Il a joint la Force Expéditionnaire canadienne le 12 Avril 1916. Henri a combattu à Passchendaele, et aussi à Amiens. Henri était un jeune homme très passionné, et aussi très aidant. Il a beaucoup montré preuve de sa nature aidante même durant son expérience à la guerre; quand un de ses camarades s’est fait tirer par une balle allemande dans l’épaule. Il aidait un officier non-commissionné à donner des premiers soins à l’autre soldat, quand un obus allemand est venu exploser à côté du trio, les tuant instantanément.

Dans l’heure menant à ma présentation, j’étais un peu nerveux. Je n’ai aucune idée pourquoi j’étais nerveux, mais je l’étais. Quand j’ai trouvé sa tombe, j’étais surmonté d’émotion; j’ai simplement commencé à pleurer. Tout la nervosité a disparue en un clin d’œil, et je me sentais serein, au pied de la tombe de mon arrière-grand-oncle. Je lui ai dit une prière, et je lui ai parlé. J’ai pu lui parler de comment il manquait fortement la famille, et comment j’aurais bien aimé le rencontrer.

Avoir la chance de présenter l’histoire d’Henri et l’histoire de ma famille a été un honneur immense et inoubliable. C’est sûr que je retournerai le visiter dans les années qui viennent. Henri va me manquer, et j’espère que la croix que j’ai laissée pour lui restera à ses côtés.

Aidan Hupe, Whitehorse, YK

 

Over the course of this program and especially today, something has struck me: how peaceful it is here. For a place that was once in ruins, one hundred years later seems virtually untouched- with the exception of the evident scars. While we were at Beaumont-Hamel, however, it was calm and peaceful. Yet this is the location of one of the bloodiest battles in history. I was in awe of the contrast presented in front of me. How different the area now is; I couldn’t believe my eyes when realizing the full extent of this site. How many lives were lost in just a small area. I had to stop and take in the reality of what this place was and is. The sacrifices that were made here, and the terror that reigned in this area. After remaining in this mindset, I was interrupted by a peace and calm once again. It made me reflect on how symbolic Beaumont-Hamel is. Could it truly be a peaceful resting place for the fallen of the most horrific battle? The irony of it stands out, though it also brings it all together. In the midst of where there was once terror and warfare there was a peace that surpassed understanding.

Elizabeth Gagné, Regina SK

 

Visiting Beaumont-Hamel today was nothing less than incredible. Learning of the approximately eight hundred Newfoundlanders who were killed, leaving a whole generation left without men, lead to both tremendous benefits and brutal curses. The men who died at Beaumont-Hamel brought into my mind some of the social and cultural shifts that took place throughout this time period on the home front. The shift that affected me the most, due to all the women in my life, was that with all the men gone, women were forced into the factories. While this change didn’t immediately change the prevailing sentiment at the end of the war, it did lay the backbone for the future women’s rights activists for the cultural shifts to come. However, this tremendous advancement didn’t come without tremendous sacrifices – the loss of the sovereignty of a nation. As Newfoundland was unable to overcome its mass human losses due to its relatively small size, it faced incredible economic pressure to give up its sovereignty, inevitably leading to its induction into Canada, which opposed the beliefs of many native Newfoundlanders at the time. These emotional explorations and cultural revelations, through both the ups and downs, lead to both emotional and intellectual changes within me, that I hope to be able to take advantage of in the future.

Eric Weidmann, Fort Saskatchewan AB