The Tour de France 2018

The Tour de France has strong connections to the First World War. The 12th Tour in 1914 began the same day Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, setting off a string of events that led to the outbreak of war. Of the 145 cyclists who started the 1914 Tour de France, 15 would die during the First World War, including three previous Tour champions: Lucien Petit-Breton Mazan (winner in 1907 & 1908), François Faber (winner in 1909) and Octave Lapize (winner in 1910). The 13th edition of the Tour de France took place in 1919, and due to the years of war and the poor conditions of roads, the average speed of riders and the number of officially finishing cyclists (ten) were the lowest in history.

Cyclists themselves made an important contribution to the war effort 100 years ago.  “It was during the last 100 days of the war that the Canadian Corps Cyclist Battalion came into its own. Freed from their earlier manual labour, the cyclists began to perform the intelligence work for which they had been trained. Sent in advance of the infantry to keep in touch with the retreating enemy, the cyclists acted as battalion runners, dispatchers and scouts, as well as soldiers who took part in direct combat.” John McKenty, Canadian Cycling Magazine (link)

 

Unable to ride his cycle through the mud caused by the recent storm. A Canadian messenger carries his “horse”. August, 1917.  Library and Archives Canada/ PA-001581 (modified from the original). 

 

Saturday’s Tour de France stage ends in Amiens. Nearly 100 years ago, the  Canadian  Corps  were  secretly  moved  to  the  Amiens  front and the Battle of Amiens began on August 8. Amiens  was  an  astounding  success,  the  largest  one  of  the  war  so  far  for  the  Allies. However,  the  eventual  victory  came  at  a  very  heavy  cost: 11,822 Canadian casualties. 

Stage 8 Route Map – Tour de France

On Sunday, July 15, the Tour de France stage visits many of the sites that Canadians (and Allies of course) fought at during the final 100 days of the First World War, including Arras, Cambrai, and Auberchicourt. 

Stage 9 Route Map – Tour de France

National Indigenous Peoples Day

During the First World War, thousands of Indigenous soldiers served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Like most Canadians, many Indigenous men served in the infantry with the Canadian Corps in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). Indigenous peoples’ military roles were influenced by their traditional hunting and military skills combined with the racial stereotypes held by recruiting officers and military officials. Many served as snipers or reconnaissance scouts, some of the most hazardous roles in the military. Others served in support units in the CEF, including railway troops, tunneling companies and forestry units.

Despite close camaraderie with non-Indigenous soldiers, their return home was plagued with unequal treatment and marginalization. In 1919, Lieutenant F.O. Loft, a Six Nations veteran who had served with the Canadian Forestry Corps during the war, founded the League of Indians of Canada. It sought to improve conditions on reserves and believed that a unified stance through a political organization could challenge the Indian Act that governed the lives of First Nations people.

Read through his entire service file here at Library and Archives Canada.

Learn more about the contribution of Indigenous Peoples during the First World War from Veterans Affairs Canada.

The Borden Legacy Park

Camp Borden was founded in 1916, training nearly fifty thousand soldiers for service in The Canadian Expeditionary Force. For many of those soldiers, their first action was during the Battle of Arras, and specifically the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

In 2016 CFB Borden celebrated its centennial year, and through the enduring partnership of the Base, the City of Barrie and the surrounding communities, the Borden Legacy Monument was erected to mark the occasion. Unveiled on June 9th by PM Trudeau, with Mayor Leturque, Mayor of Arras, contributing to our ceremony.

The Borden Legacy Project began in 2014, and in June 2015, sacred soil was removed from the Battlefield at Vimy Ridge and patriated to Canada. This soil symbolically holds the DNA of all those fallen and wounded in the 1917 Battle.

This was one of the important steps that saw the creation of Borden Legacy Park –three distinct pieces that serve to commemorate our past and inspire the future. First, a white and black granite wall, a tribute and inspiration to each and every member of the Canadian Armed Forces that passes through our gates. Etched into the main wall is a powerful tribute to all past and current serving Canadian Armed Forces members: Through these gates the sons a daughters of a grateful nation pass – serving Canada with Honour, Duty, and Courage, so that all may live with Freedom, Democracy, and Justice.

The wall also encases an urn, in which the sacred soil is held. The promise of General Sir Arthur Currie to his troops is etched into the wall that holds the soil, and reads: “To those who fall I say: you will not die, but step into immortality. Your mothers will not lament your fate, but will be proud to have borne such sons. Your names will be revered forever and ever by your grateful country, and God will take you unto himself.”

The second piece of the park is the restored WWI trenches that were used to train infantry soldiers before their departure to the Western Front. Connected to the Legacy Wall via short wooded trail, these trenches are a reminder of the importance of training, and the conditions of the First World War.

Finally, a Bronze Bugler stands in the park, calling to his companions, calling visitors to the monument, and calling to the now-empty trenches that once trained soldiers before they left for battle overseas.

To commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a second bugler was created, and will be donated to the Vimy Foundation, to stand in the shadow of Walter Allward’s magnificent monument. The Twin Bugler currently stands in the Hotel de Ville in the City of Arras.

Information and photos provided by CFB Borden.

 

‘Vimy to Juno’ Charity Bike Ride

Announcing the 2019 ‘Vimy to Juno’ Charity Bike Ride

The Vimy Foundation is proud to announce a unique opportunity to cycle through Canada’s First and Second World War history, in June 2019. The ‘Vimy to Juno’ Charity Bike Ride combines 500-700km of riding through beautiful countryside and challenging courses with a powerful historical narrative culminating in the 75th anniversary of commemorations.

The tour begins in the battlefields where Canada was active in the First World War, taking riders through Belgium and Northern France, including special visits to Menin Gate (and Last Post Ceremony), Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, and the Canadian National Vimy Memorial – which will incorporate activities inside the new Visitor Education Centre, at the soon to be opened Vimy Foundation Centennial Park, and exclusive access to the nearby underground tunnels of Maison Blanche, not open to the public.

Heading into Normandy, riders will trace the route followed by Canadian soldiers in campaigns of the Second World War, including the Dieppe Raid, culminating in wreath laying and attending a special Gala Dinner with Heads of States and other VIPs, as part of the official commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the D–Day landings. Along the Vimy to Juno route, riders will participate in a special event with cyclists on the Wounded Warriors Canada Battlefield Bike Ride (BBR19), joining like-minded Canadians exploring Canada’s wartime history on two wheels. You won’t have to be an expert cyclist to go on this trip, but a level of training and bicycle knowledge is required.

Highlights to include:

  • Ypres Region: Last post ceremony at the Menin Gate
  • Vimy Region: Canadian National Vimy Memorial
  • Vimy Region: Beaumont Hamel National Memorial (NL)
  • Normandy Region: Visit Dieppe
  • Normandy Region: Attend D-Day Ceremonies at Juno Beach

Dates, costs, and more information including detailed routes to be announced shortly. Stay tuned!

Announcing our 2018 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Recipients!

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2018 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize! 16 students were selected to participate in an immersive educational program in England, Belgium, and France. From August 9-23, 2018, they will learn about the interwoven history of our countries during the First and Second World Wars.

Ghalia Aamer – Edmonton, AB
Laetitia Champenois Pison – Montreal, QC
Cassidy Choquette – Steinbach, MB
John Evans – Victoria, BC
Alix Gravel – Cowansville, QC
Anna Hoimyr – Gladmar, SK
Mayra Alejandra Largo Alvarez – London, ON
Stanford Li – Beaconsfield, QC
Isabella MacKay – Ottawa, ON
Cassandre Onteniente – Region Occitanie, France
Brooke Reid – St. Andrews, NB
Hanna Rogers – Kinkora, PE
Kelsey Ross – Burin, NL
Gordon Simpson – Edinburgh, Scotland
Caroline Tolton – North York, ON
Rachel Woodruff – Chemainus, BC

 

There were so many impressive applications that once again our task was extremely difficult, and we thank all who applied.

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

BeaverbrookCanadianLogo

 

The 2018 Vimy Reception

 

Nearly 200 government officials, business leaders, military personnel, and students attended the eighth annual Vimy Reception at the stunning Embassy of France on May 1. Thank you to our host, Her Excellency Kareen Rispal, Ambassador of France to Canada, and to our guest speakers: Tim Cook, CM, Canadian War Museum; and Damien Pilon, 2018 Vimy Pilgrimage Award winner.

 

“Thank you to all who joined us for helping to celebrate not only Canada’s legacy of leadership, innovation, and teamwork, but also the cultural heritage of the beautiful monument itself. Let’s continue to share the many stories that make Vimy such an iconic milestone for our country!” 

– Bruce R. Burrows, Chair of the 2018 Vimy Reception Committee

“Today, we are here to remember the Canadians and the French who fought a century ago, and it is our mission to prevent what happened to them from happening again. We will not forget them, and their memory will remind us of our duty to preserve peace.”

– Damien Pilon, 2018 Vimy Pilgrimage Award winner

 

Thank you to our event sponsors:
A special thank you to Sakto Corporation for their ongoing support of the 137 Ashbury Royal Canadian Dragoons Army Cadets who were able to join us again this year.

 

Support the Vimy Legacy Fund
Help us fund our Vimy Pilgrimage Award, which sends 20 outstanding young Canadians, like Damien, to walk through the footsteps of history in Canada’s most notable First World War sites each April.

 

Great War in Colour exhibit featured
Learn more about our First World War in Colour project and browse additional colourized images on our website.

 

Watch ‘Return to Vimy’
During the Vimy Reception, we screened this short film produced by the Vimy Foundation in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada. Watch ‘Return to Vimy’

 

Learn more about the Vimy Foundation Centennial Park
The Vimy Foundation Centennial Park is currently being built on a dedicated piece of land adjacent to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France. It will feature 100 Centennial Trees, each a descendant of a ‘Vimy Oak’ acorn which fell during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

 

 

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

 

Vimy Pilgrimage Award Blog – 9 April 2018

On the last day of the program, the 2018 Vimy Pilgrimage Award students visited the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, which was a very important and moving experience. The group visited the new Vimy Education Centre and participated in a ceremony commemorating the 101st anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge where Nupur and Thomas read the Commitment to Remember as Katie, Stephanie, and Shakil laid a wreath. Later in the day, they visited the Maison Blanche underground tunnels and the Canadian Cemetery No.2. (Please note: participants will blog in their language of preference.)

[7:54 am] Sarah: We’re on our way to Vimy and I can’t wait to experience such an important Canadian Memorial.

 

[8:10 am] Lloyd: Walking up to the monument in silence, with the structure being slowly uncovered by the fog as we moved closer- there was a definitive feeling of awe, indescribable by words.

 

[8:11 am] Amy: In an instant, only mere metres away, a looming outline of the Vimy memorial came into view. Even though the silence and fog remained constant, I could feel my heart begin to pound in my chest as I slowly climbed the first steps of the monument.

 

[8:23 am] Christophe: L’immersion totale dans les sphères psychologiques les plus intimes de ceux qui ont subi la guerre, soit à travers la commémoration de leurs histoires, l’exploration de lieux qui ont marqué leur conscience ou l’admiration du silence solennel aux pieds de cet énorme monument, fut l’une des expériences les plus touchantes pour nous tous.h

 

[9:12 am] Montaña: Seeing my soldier Acil today dug trenches in the pits of my heart that I cannot see myself mounting any time soon.

 

[9:27 am] Rohan: Though I am no way related to Private Milne, I felt as if he was a close member of my family that I had known for years while I read my poem to him at the Vimy Memorial.

 

[10:18 am] Osose: We’re about to go into the Vimy tunnels and I am very excited to see those.

 

[10:33 am] Bethany: Outside of the Vimy tunnels, I met someone from Chilliwack, my hometown, who heard about my pilgrimage. I am so happy to have felt the experience of everyone from around the world coming to Vimy and having been lucky enough to meet.

 

[1:37 pm] Stephanie: Though stone littered the floor, rusted nails stuck out from the walls, and grenades lay idle on the ground, emerging from the dark tunnels of Maison Blanche was the art, personality, and stories of generations.

 

[1:42 pm] Jeriann: I had an amazing time seeing all of the soldiers’ and miners’ graffiti in the Maison Blanche tunnels. I was looking forward to this since the beginning of the program, and it has exceeded all of my expectations.

 

[2:14 pm] Thomas: D’ici quelques minutes, j’irai lire la promesse de se souvenir; quelle honneur !

 

[2:49 pm] Shakil: Staying outside in the rain, preparing to lay the wreath, the only thing running through my mind is the endless cold and rain that a soldier of the First World War had to go through.

 

[4:13 pm] Kiana: The Vimy Ceremony was a very meaningful experience. It was beautiful and I feel like everything that I felt, learned, experienced and saw all culminated in that procession. I have never felt prouder to be Canadian.

 

[4:17 pm] Laurissa: Je n’ai jamais vue une cérémonie de souvenir aussi grande et émouvante. Je suis très chanceuse d’avoir eu la chance de voir une telle cérémonie, et je m’en rappellerai toujours.

 

[4:47 pm] Nepur: Reading the Commitment to Remember, I was proud and humbled to play a part in the ceremony and do my part to honour the contributions and sacrifices of Canadian soldiers.

 

[5:24 pm] Katie: The world is a pretty small place… and sometimes you have to go to the other side of the globe to realize it. I was one of the three, along with Shaq and Stephanie, to lay a wreath at the Vimy Memorial. After hearing my last name announced, Barry C. Quinn (Justice of the Peace of Ontario) came to talk to me. It was quite an experience.

 

[5:42 pm] Julia: Getting to see my great-grandfather’s cousin in the Aix-Noulette Cemetery was an amazing, emotional, and life-changing experience.

 

[6:01 pm] Markus: I gained a new perspective on the importance of honouring our soldiers’ sacrifice and bringing their message to the modern world.

 

[9:04 pm] Damien: Le programme a pris tout son sens aujourd’hui, quand le mémorial de Vimy s’est dévoilé à nous, sous la pluie et la brume, comme hors du temps, une vision irréelle qui nous a rappelé que tout ce que nous avons fait lors de la dernière semaine nous ramène finamelemtn à ce pourquoi nous nous sommes engagés dans cette aventure au départ: c’est vraiment un pèlerinage, pour Vimy, vers Vimy.
[9:14 pm] Léa-Jade: Un mot : Reconnaissant !

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

 

Vimy Pilgrimage Award Blog – 8 April 2018

Today the 2018 Vimy Pilgrimage Award students were in Amiens, visiting the gothic cathedral and other sites significant to the Hundred Days Offensive. In the afternoon, they travelled to Lens to visit the Lens’14-18 Museum and a number of cemeteries, including Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, and the Ring of Remembrance. (Please note: participants will blog in their language of preference.)

Through today’s sites, I truly understood the weight of the sacrifices of the men and women who died serving our country. Around Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, 44,000 French are buried in what seems like infinite rows of crosses. I could not comprehend how so many people could be buried in this cemetery alone. Reading the statistics in a history textbook or on a website always allowed me to distance myself. However, walking past thousands and thousands of crosses and still seeing so many more stunned me. Visiting the largest French cemetery of the First World War allowed me to visualize the immense loss of human life in ways that I could not before the VPA program.

I also had the opportunity to present my research on the first Canadian nursing sister to be killed in action during the First World War, Katherine Maud MacDonald. I have a lot in common with her: she was born in my hometown, graduated from my high school, and entered the medical field like I hope to next year. While it is extremely important to remember our soldiers who fought and died, it is just as important to remember Canada’s nursing sisters who fought to save them and died beside them. Finding MacDonald’s name and taking the time to honour her was one of the countless highlights of the program and one of many memories I will never forget.

Jeriann Hsiao, Brantford ON

 

Les rangs de tombes s’enchaînent comme les salles d’artillerie qui a amené plusieurs hommes à leur repos éternel. Les tombes défilent à une vitesse effrayante, comme les pointes qui ont perforé leur coeur et celui de leur famille.

En voyant ces rangées de grandes pierres blanches Lourdes de sens se tiennent fièrement au-dessus du corps inanimé d’un mari, d’un frère ou d’un fils. J’ai réalisé bien qu’en visitant un cimetière ou un musée du premier conflit mondial vous réaliser à quell point point les soldats ont sourffert, mais vous réalisr aussie que des familled, des enfants et des femmes aiment ces hommes tombés au combat. Non seulement ce terrible conflit a été terrible pour les soldats eux-mêmes, mais aussi pour leur famille.

Nous n’avons pas oublié et nous n’oublierons pas que la mémoire de leur sacrifice vive à jamais dans nos coeur et dans notre mémoire collective.

Thomas Turmel, Vallée-Jonction QC

 

We are nearing the end of our wonderful journey. But as the quote goes, “Don’t be sad because it ended, be happy because it happened.” So today I am going to reflect upon my experience here in Europe with 19 other students and 5 amazing chaperones.

We’ve come a long way! 6 days ago, when we all arrived at the airport in Montreal, no one knew one another. In a short period of time, however, we became a very tightly knit group.

When I think of this program many years from now, I’ll think of the many wonderful places we visited. My favourite, thus far, has been the German cemetery in Belgium. It’s beautiful to think that even though the Germans were seen as the ‘enemy’ for invading their country, both sides had a mutual sense of respect for the burial of all the soldiers that fought.

I am looking forward to the Vimy Memorial tomorrow, where I will be presenting my soldier. I’ve learned a lot about the Battle of Vimy Ridge in school, but I am happy to finally see the Memorial for myself.

Rohan Ashar, Toronto ON

 

I am not related to Frank Cyril Pye. I do not come from the same hometown. We did not share school hallways. However, as I faced his headstone, I felt as if I was visiting someone I knew personally. While Private Frank Cyril Pye fought on the Front lines of France, he joked with his young sister back in Manitoba about her boyfriend. When his best friend was reported killed, he asked his sister to send over sheet music for another friend who was a great singer. Beneath the headstone, was the kind big brother who had nothing left but 24 letters addressed to his little sister. My tribute to Pye simply focused on things he said in his letters that I could relate to my own life. It didn’t matter what awards he won, what rank he was, or whether he enlisted or was conscripted. The importance was him being a real person with a real story. Though it is hard to comprehend the millions of interesting stories, big dreams, and bright hopes that were lost during the First World War, I began to understand the loss of a single life through Frank Cyril Pye.

Stephanie Quon, Vancouver BC