1918 – 2018 – Centenary of the First World War’s End

“Canadians on the march near the line during a snow storm. December, 1917.”
Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-002305.

2018 marks the centenary of the First World War’s final year. For those at the front, 1918 would prove to be no less horrendous than the many years before it. The German Spring Offensive would cost the Allies dearly before they could launch the counter-stroke that signalled the devastating Hundred Days Offensive. Meanwhile in Canada, the controversial Military Service Act would come into effect in early 1918.

As we move into this New Year, The Vimy Foundation will continue to share stories from these centenary events in Canadian history, in our efforts to ensure that #CanadaRemembers the First World War and its centenary.

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.