Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – 13 August 2017

Credit: Rachel Collishaw, Vimy Foundation 2017.

Today in France, the BVP 2017 students visited important sites from the battle of the Somme, including Beaumont Hamel, Thiepval, and the Historial de la Grande Guerre museum. At Neuve Chapelle British Cemetery, Yaman delivered a powerful presentation about the contributions of Sikh soldiers in the First World War.
Please note: the students will blog in their preferred official language.

Today was our first day in France. After all we did today, our visit to Beaumont-Hamel left an impression so deep and significant that I will truly never forget it. Being a Newfoundlander myself, Beaumont-Hamel and the tragic story of the “Blue Puttees” is forever seared into our cultural memory. We lost a whole generation of young men from which our Dominion, (and now province), has never fully healed. Seeing the Caribou Monument, the shell craters, and trenches triggered something inside me to the point where I was overcome with emotion. The fact that I was there in remembrance of my great-grandfather and that I was commemorating my soldier there added to this emotional connection. I had never been to Beaumont-Hamel, having only seen the monument through photographs and video at home, but for some reason it felt like I had seen it before. The overwhelming response of love and support I received from my fellow Beaverbrook Vimy Prize participants after doing my soldier presentation was inspiring and heart warming. The connection I have developed not only to the fallen comrades, but also to my fellow BVP recipients is overwhelming, and I have never been filled with so much emotion. I hope that my great-grandfather, Fred, and my soldier, Cecil, would be proud and touched by my actions here today.

-Abigail Garret, Conception Bay, Newfoundland & Labrador


Aujourd’hui, je me suis senti très fier de présenter au groupe – lorsque nous étions en train de visiter le monument commémoratif de Neuve Chapelle – le soldat canadien sikh Buckam Singh, dont l’histoire a été oubliée pendant plusieurs décennies. Cet homme a souffert beaucoup et il est mort seul, sans avoir droit à un rituel religieux. Dû à l’absence de Sikhs au Canada à son époque, personne n’est venu visité sa tombe… jusqu’à ce qu’un historien ait retrouvé sa médaille de victoire dans une boutique anglaise.

Ensuite, nous avons visité Beaumont Hamel. J’ai adoré observer les réseaux de tranchées qui zigzaguaient dans l’herbe. Un caribou symbolique dominant le paysage se tenait majestueusement par-dessus un support. Abbey, l’une des participantes, nous a distribué à chacun deux drapeaux de Terre-Neuve et Labrador que nous avons planté devant les tombes de nos choix.

Finalement, lorsque j’ai aperçu le monument à Thiepval, c’était immense ! Les drapeaux français et britannique donnaient l’impression que ces deux pays se serraient la main. Il y avait un cimetière derrière la structure, séparé en deux sections : une section pour les soldats français où se tenaient des rangées de croix portant la mention « Inconnu » ; et une section pour les soldats anglais un peu différente, où les tombes étaient conçues d’après les standards de la CWGC, malgré que la plupart étaient également des tombes de soldats inconnus.

-Yaman Awad, Anjou, Quebec

Immense archways, thousands of inscribed names, a cemetery placed against the background of a picturesque countryside; today we visited the Thiépval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, dedicated to the missing British and South African soldiers who fought at the Battle of the Somme. As I walked through the memorial, my heart dropped at the sight of all the names of the soldiers who lost their lives in one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, and whose bodies have not yet been found. Continuing down the stairs of the memorial to the cemetery, I saw the graves of the French and British soldiers; the French on one side and the British soldiers on the other. The difference between the two nationalities could be easily spotted as there were stone crosses erected at the graves of the French soldiers, while for the English soldiers, there were the rounded Commonwealth tombstones that we had seen previously at other cemeteries. As I approached the French crosses, I realized that they all bore the same inscription, “Inconnu,” or “Unknown.” Row after row, there were crosses without the names of those who were buried there. When I saw this, my heart shattered. All these fallen soldiers once had names and identities, which have been buried under the horrors of the war. I now have an understanding of the contributions made by those who served their countries and felt a greater need to commemorate the fallen soldiers. I will continue to remember these soldiers and to search for and share their stories with others so that we will never forget those who gave up their lives so that we may live ours in peace.

-Cecilia Kim, Surrey, British Columbia

Y Ravine Cemetery, Beaumont Hamel
Credit: Rachel Collishaw, Vimy Foundation 2017.
Historial de la Grande Guerre – Museum of the First World War
Credit: Hanna Smyth, Vimy Foundation 2017.
Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme
Credit: Rachel Collishaw, Vimy Foundation 2017.
Y Ravine Cemetery, Beaumont Hamel
Credit: Hanna Smyth, Vimy Foundation 2017.

Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – 12 August 2017

St. Julien Memorial. Credit: Rachel Collishaw, Vimy Foundation 2017.

Today the BVP2017 group took part in a Ypres Salient Tour, visiting the Christmas Truce Memorial, Hooge Crater, the St. Julien Memorial and many others. They were also able to visit the Langemark German Military Cemetery, which strikes a very different chord than those of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Please note: participants will blog in their mother tongue.

Today was our day for the Ypres Salient Tour, and so we visited Tyne Cot Cemetery. 11,950 soldiers are buried there. Commonwealth, British and a few Germans are all present in that sea of marble, the sword of sacrifice standing (protectively or threateningly?) over them all.

There were two soldier commemorations that took place there, both beautifully moving. We found a soldier who had lived in the same house as one of our chaperones. It made me think. There is a word in English, “to sonder”, which means to wonder about the lives of all the people around you and realize that they are all individuals, with a life at least as complicated as yours. That is what I felt today.

Every single man in the Great War was an individual, a unique human being with his own stories. I was surrounded by 11,950 stories. Some, buried as Soldiers of the Great War, Known Only Unto God. But we know a little. This one was from Scotland. This one was Australian. We can guess more. We can guess that somewhere there is a family who remembers. Somewhere, their names liveth for evermore.

David Alexander, Pointe-Claire, Quebec

Today, we visited the Passchendaele New British Cemetery where I commemorated a soldier. Alexander Decoteau was a Cree-Canadian soldier who was shot by a German sniper on the morning of 30 October 1917. I had the greatest honour of sharing his story and bringing his legacy to the rest of the group, and back home with me.

Alexander was a remarkable, wonderful man who lived his life to the fullest. He was one of Canada’s greatest athletes and first Indigenous police officer. Before the war, Decoteau entered a race not realizing that it was a bicycle race. Undeterred, he borrowed a bicycle and won the race. He was posthumously inducted into the Saskatchewan and Alberta Sports Halls of Fame in 2000 and 2001.

We should not remember him just because he won races, we should remember him because he never gave up, regardless of the circumstances. What joie de vivre can a man possess that he looks upon every obstacle and overcomes them? Like all the soldiers of the Great War, we must remember him. He gave his life for the future, for our future. I will remember him, I will pick up his torch and tell his story. He has been part of my journey as I partook in his past journey; he is now a part of who I am and I will carry him with me wherever I go.

-Ariadne Douglas, Prince George, British Columbia


Why should Percy Louis Barber and men like him be remembered? Is it because of the millions of lives they affected indirectly by making the ultimate sacrifice on the fields of war? Or maybe it’s because of the willingness and undying love to step up to the call when asked upon. What’s tragic about it is the fact that many of these men are not recognized or remembered by people because they weren’t lucky enough to be published, or recognized by an officer. Nevertheless men like these need to be recognised and Percy Louis Barber is no exception.

Percy at the early age of 21, like many others, had borne the scars of war multiple times. He pushed through his wounds and what must have been fear to resume his role leading troops to the front lines; battling along side his comrades in the most demanding circumstances for one and a half years. He inspired his students just as he did his soldiers that he led into combat.

So once again if you were to ask me the question why Percy Barber should be remembered I would say that the sacrifice and endless suffering that often extended past the war could not have been for nothing. These young innocent men who fought valiantly for our freedom at the very least deserve our respect as the sun sets where they lay in Flanders fields.

-Daniel Schindel, Surrey, British Columbia

Christmas Truce Memorial. Credit: Rachel Collishaw, 2017.
Hooge Crater. Credit: Hanna Smyth, Vimy Foundation, 2017.
Langemark German Military Cemetery. Credit: Rachel Collishaw, 2017.

Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – 11 August 2017

Today the BVP2017 group travelled to Ypres where they visited John McCrae’s dressing station at Essex Farm, the Passchendaele Memorial, and the In Flanders Fields museum. Later that same evening they participated in the Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate which has taken place every night since 1928 (with the exception of a temporary pause during the occupation in the Second World War).
Please note: participants will blog in their mother tongue.

Credit: Thomas Littlewood, Vimy Foundation 2017.

Currently, to many students across Canada, Francis Pegahmagabow was a Canadian soldier during the First World War; a soldier that had a familiar ring to his name, so that anytime you heard it, you knew you recognized the name, but you couldn’t quite place why you knew it.

Before the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize, I was one of those students. I didn’t know why Francis Pegahmagabow was (and still is) a significant Anishnaabe figure of the First World War to Canadians.

I didn’t know that despite discriminatory bans which discouraged Indigenous Canadians from enlisting, Francis enlisted almost immediately after the war was declared.

I didn’t realize that despite being known as the deadliest sniper of the war, becoming the most highly decorated Indigenous soldier in Canada and being one of thirty-nine men to receive two bars to their Military Medals, he returned home only to have the same persecution and poverty he experienced prior to the war.

Once exhausted and frustrated with the government’s treatment of Indigenous Canadians, Francis became involved in local and federal politics; advocating for better treatment towards Indigenous people.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn about Corporal Francis Pegahmagabow, for he played such a significant role during the First World War. Unfortunately, because he was in a minority, he is a hidden figure of Canadian history that is not taught to students in classrooms.
Yet through programs like the Vimy Foundation’s Beaverbrook Vimy Prize, we are learning stories that were silenced during the war. These are stories that we will share with fellow students and our communities when we return home.

Claire Belliveau, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

I was very moved by the ceremony we attended today at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium. Everywhere I looked there were people; all of the viewing areas were packed full. It was very emotional to see so many individuals and families taking the time for this important act of remembrance. At the beginning of the ceremony trumpets were playing the Last Post and the Pledge of Remembrance was read aloud. As everyone in the crowd chorused “We will remember them”, I felt that it was undeniably true. These people were taking the time during an ordinary day to remember the soldiers who fought and died. It’s hard to express how powerful that moment really was and the impact it had for me.

Later in the ceremony, wreaths were laid on the steps of the Gate. I was so proud to be wearing my Vimy Foundation jacket when Cecilia, Paul and Lala laid our wreath. It meant so much for me to be at that ceremony, seeing a Vimy Foundation wreath being laid on a memorial that remembers so many Canadian and fellow Commonwealth soldiers.

Today was truly a day I will never forget. The enormous monument with the thousands of soldiers who fought in the “World to End All Wars” and the shivers that ran down my spine during the Pledge of Remembrance made the sacrifice of the soldiers ever more tangible.

Patricia Kennedy, Fredericton, New Brunswick

I had the opportunity of presenting to the BVP group on Captain Flora Sandes, the only British woman to officially fight in the First World War. Born in 1876 in Yorkshire, she was the youngest daughter of a middle class Irish clergyman, Samuel Sandes. While most girls her age played with dolls and sewing, Flora spent her time doing her two favourite things: horse riding and shooting.

When war broke out Flora Sandes joined the St. John Ambulance service with 36 other women in order to aid the humanitarian crisis in Serbia. Within a year she joined the Serbian Red Cross and when her unit reached an area that was impassible to paramedics she took the Red Cross badge off her arm and declared that she would join the 2nd Regiment as a Private; within a year she was a Sergeant. During hand-to-hand combat, Sergeant Sandes sustained injuries from an exploding grenade, resulting in a military hospital stay of two months. While in hospital, Sandes received the Order of the Star of Karađorđe and was promoted to Sergeant Major, becoming the first ever female and foreigner to be made a Sergeant Major in the Serbian forces. Sandes spent much of her life in Serbia with her husband, getting trapped in the country when the Gestapo took control in the Second World War, before ultimately losing her husband and making the difficult decision to leave the country.

Captain Flora Sandes was a remarkable woman; her attitudes were revolutionary and as the next generation we must remember her example and the remarkable stories of women during the world wars, which are often not shared, but rather hidden between the lines of the bigger picture.

-Lala Israfilova, Carshalton, Sutton, UK

Credit: Hanna Smyth, Vimy Foundation 2017.
Credit: Hanna Smyth, Vimy Foundation 2017.
Credit: Hanna Smyth, Vimy Foundation 2017.

Essex Farm Cemetery

Today, the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize group is visiting Essex Farm Cemetery, the Passchendaele Memorial and taking part in the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate. In May 1915, it is believed Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian Army Medical Corps wrote the poem “In Flanders Fields” while operating at Essex Farm Cemetery. To mark the centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission historians broadcast a series of live videos while visiting CWGC sites. Today we share the recording made at Essex Farm Cemetery.   

Live from #CWGC Essex Farm Cemetery

Posted by Commonwealth War Graves Commission on Friday, July 28, 2017

Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – 10 August 2017

Today in Oxford, the 2017 BVP group toured Oxford University and attended seminars by guest speakers Dr. Emma Login and Dr. Aimee Fox. They also tried punting and participated in our “BVP Amazing Race” Oxford edition! Please note: participants will blog in their mother tongue.

It is not every day that I get to talk with history PhDs about their field of study. Today, we had the privilege of learning from two such experts.

Our morning started with a lecture from Dr. Aimee Fox, who spoke to us about theaters of WWI outside of the Western Front. We learned of soldiers, whose voices had been muffled in our school curriculums, who had been deployed to Gallipoli, Salonica, Cairo, and more. We learned of the isolation, desolation, and exhaustive heat these men faced, and how, in spite of working hard to serve and often contracting illness, they were not regarded as highly as the soldiers of the Western trenches.

Following this, Dr. Emma Login opened up a conversation about memorials – their perceived value and how that changes across diverse populations and over time. We learned of symbolism, abstraction, representation, and function, examining in depth the specific cases of WWI memorials.

These lectures were not simply lectures – they were conversations. Throughout, I felt the compulsion to scribble some new insight in my notebook far too many times.

Enshia Li, Richmond Hill, ON


Today we had the privilege of traveling to Oxford. It wasn’t anything like I expected, in a good way, as I had no idea about all the beautiful architecture and museums. I also wasn’t aware of the deep history surrounding the university, such as the story behind “All Souls.” But along with the history, we also learned many team building skills and bonded further as a group. After we had some free time to roam around Oxford, we all partook in the Oxford/BVP version of “The Amazing Race.” In our leadership teams we raced around trying to be the first team to complete the task, which caused us collaborate our ideas in order to solve the problems and helped us bond. After that we went punting, which was a new experience for all of us. It was very hard – trying to propel a long slim boat along a river, with a small current, with a long metal rod, is not for a short person like myself. Because it was so hard, albeit really fun, we had to work together to try and paddle our way down the river. Today I feel we bonded and grew closer as a group. I feel like this will be important as we travel to Ypres tomorrow to a more sombre scene of remembrance as we visit more memorials and cemeteries.

Abigail Garrett, Conception Bay, NL

The BVP 2017 group in front of the History door at Bodleian Library, Oxford. Credit: Thomas Littlewood, Vimy Foundation 2017.

Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – 9 August 2017

Today in London, our 2017 BVP students visited the Imperial War Museum where they attended lectures by Dr. Anna Maguire and Dr. James Wallis, explored the Churchill War Rooms, and were guided through a memorials walking tour. Please note: participants will blog in their mother tongue.

Our first stop in London today was the Imperial War Museum where we had the pleasure of learning from two excellent guest speakers, Dr. Anna Maguire and Dr. James Wallis who spoke on the lasting legacies and impacts of the First World War. I really enjoyed these presentations as they provided many new things to consider about the war and a new perspective on the conflict. We visited the First World War Gallery and Dr. Wallis answered questions for us as we walked through. It was very effective for me as they had a beautifully laid out exhibit with a huge array of artifacts with comprehensive backstories. From the exhibit, I definitely felt the impact that the war had on the UK, along with many other nations. The museum allowed me to clearly see the important details and stories behind the war, and I ultimately learned a lot. Next, we visited the Churchill War Rooms, and there, we saw the Second World War’s side of things. The complexity of the stuffy underground bunkers was stunning, and it showed me yet again how a war impacted the UK. Seeing these bunkers, I felt a great deal of pride from the resilience that was shown by the British people in those harsh times, and it was quite moving. Overall, I had an absolutely incredible day, and I learned so much. I can’t wait for tomorrow!

Cole Oien, Calgary, AB


Today was the first full day in London and in Hyde Park we visited the Canadian war memorial. It’s a small one, slightly sunken into the ground surrounded by a grove of maple trees. On clear days, the sun would reflect in the water running down the memorial’s slanted surface and over the maple leaves which are embedded in the stone. But today, rain splashed off the bath running down its centre. As we approached, one of the group suggested that it looked like the bow of a ship. But I saw a shipwreck, sticking out of the water with the waves crashing over.

I ran my hand over a maple leaf, with the water washing over it. As the water flowed past, so much flowed with it: time, lives lost in the war. Was it wasted time? Were they wasted lives? The path in the middle of the memorial looked very much like a trench in the rain. This was where they died on the ships, in the trenches, and in the cloud-filled sky. I felt it was a very powerful memorial.

David Alexander, Pointe-Claire QC

Group outside the Imperial War Museum.

Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – 8 August 2017

Today the 2017 BVP recipients all met in London and visited Westminster Abbey and Parliament.
Please note: participants will blog in their mother tongue.

Today was a fantastic first day of the Vimy Beaverbrook Prize! Our team of 16 students and 4 chaperones journeyed from many different provinces (and countries) to congregate at the Harrow School in London, England, where we began to get to know each other through some ice-breaker games. We’ve really got a great group of people with a diverse range of interests and personalities that will make our experience all the more enjoyable!

After lunch, we toured the British Parliament building, Westminster Palace. In contrast to our Canadian Parliament, this building is much larger and older. Like our Canadian Parliament, it too has been damaged by fire. With the frequent debate on Senate Reform back home, it was interesting to hear how the reformed system works in the UK, including that Lords are not paid, and that most cannot even fit in the upper chamber! It was also cool to see the original copy of the British North America Act of 1867 (and various other founding documents of Canada), which created the Dominion of Canada, 150 years ago.

Tomorrow, we’ll be visiting the Imperial War Museum, hearing from education speakers, and exploring the Churchill War Rooms, the British Prime Minister’s bunkers from the Second World War.

Evan Kanter, Toronto, ON


Aujourd’hui était le premier jour de notre programme avec la Fondation Vimy. Personnellement, je venais de Paris et j’étais hâte de rencontrer le reste du groupe qui était déjà à l’école Harrow. À Londres, nous sommes descendus du bus à l’Abbaye de Westminster puis nous nous sommes baladés dans Parliament Square ou l’on peut notamment voir des statues de Churchill, Mandela et Gandhi. Ensuite nous avons visité le parlement, situé dans le Palais de Westminster. Il y avait une exposition intéressante sur le Parlement pendant la Première Guerre Mondiale. Pour célébrer les 150 ans du Canada, des documents relatifs à son indépendance étaient exposés. Le parlement était une visite très intéressante pour mieux comprendre comment le Royaume-Uni est gouverné et comment ses parlements ont évolué. C’était une longe journée, donc nous sommes directement rentrés à Harrow ou nous avons diné. Nous avons donc passé une superbe journée pendant laquelle nous avons eu la chance de mieux nous connaitre et de mieux nous préparer dans notre compréhension du rôle du Royaume-Uni dans les Guerres mondiales.

Paul Toqueboeuf, Boulogne, France

Group photo in front of Westminster Abbey.

Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – 7 August 2017

The Beaverbrook Vimy Prize participants and chaperones, ready to fly out of Toronto Pearson International Airport on 7 August 2017.

Today students selected from across Canada have embarked on the Vimy Foundation’s Beaverbrook Vimy Prize! Follow our 2017 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize recipients as they blog about their First and Second World War history education experience! (Please note: participants will blog in their mother tongue.)  Today’s first blogs come from our four chaperones.

Today is our departure day for the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize and we are so excited to begin the program with our outstanding scholars from across Canada, England and France. The students have done much personal preparation through reading, study and researching and in connecting with a soldier from their hometown who they are going to commemorate at their resting place. We are excited to engage them in discussions and activities to make sense of their experiences and will work together to document what they have learned in order to share with their families, classmates and communities upon their return home. The 2017 BVP program will indeed be a life-changing experience. We look forward to sharing the stories of our journey with you!

-Katy Whitfield, 2017 BVP Education Coordinator & Chaperone


I am delighted to be embarking upon another Beaverbrook Vimy Prize program and so excited to meet this year’s incredible students. As the UK Coordinator for the program, part of my job involves arriving early to make sure everything is in order, so I am already in Harrow; I look forward to welcoming the rest of the group here tomorrow morning! Our philosophy on the BVP is that it is teaching students how to think critically about war and remembrance that is most important, and they are about to have a very full two weeks of challenging and engaging learning.

-Hanna Smyth, 2017 BVP Coordinator for the UK & Chaperone


As a first-time chaperone in the BVP program, I’m so excited to meet all of our scholars, who are already such accomplished young people. I’m looking forward to learning from you and with you about the histories of the men and women from our communities who served in the First and Second World Wars as we visit many sites of personal and national significance to all of us. Let the learning adventure begin!

-Rachel Collishaw, 2017 BVP Chaperone


This is a full-circle moment for me: I was a participant on the 2009 BVP and it is a joy to be a chaperone this year. The students have worked hard to prepare for the program and I am thrilled to be accompanying them and to learn from them. The chaperone team, which I am honoured to be a part of, has also worked hard preparing an educational program to challenge, inspire, and educate the BVP participants. Each day, two or three of the participants will use this space to share with you what they’ve seen, learned, and felt throughout the program. We look forward to sharing the journey with you.

-Thomas Littlewood, 2017 BVP Chaperone

Lord Beaverbrook
William Maxwell "Max" Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, PC, ONB

Today, sixteen students selected from across Canada, England and France have embarked on the Vimy Foundation’s Beaverbrook Vimy Prize. The Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation is the generous benefactor of the Vimy Foundation’s flagship student program. To mark our students’ departure, today’s post shares the story of William Maxwell “Max” Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, PC, ONB, revealing his impact on Canada’s First World War effort. 

Lord Beaverbrook
Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-006467.

Born on 25 May 1879 in Maple, Ontario, William Maxwell Aitken grew up in Newcastle, New Brunswick. A wily entrepreneur, Aitken had attempted numerous business ventures by the time he wrote his first entrance exams for university. Unable to find his way with neither university nor law school, Aitken again returned to small business ventures, variably selling insurance, writing as a correspondent for the Montreal Star,  working in a law office and running a successful municipal election campaign. Gaining employment with the Stairs family of Halifax in the early 1900’s, Aitken’s business savvy quickly launched him to the fore, soon managing massive dealings of shares, stakes, and entire mergers, with ease. By 1910, Aitken moved to England, where he supported fellow New Brunswicker, Bonar Law, in becoming the only Canadian Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In the years leading up to the First World War, Aitken built up an empire around newspaper publication houses, as well as buying, and selling, a massive share in Rolls-Royce Limited. During this time he was also knighted, choosing the title of Lord Beaverbrook, in reference to a small stream from his hometown of Newcastle, New Brunswick. 

With the outbreak of war, Lord Beaverbrook sought a position of influence, eventually gaining one as the “eyes and ears” of Sir Sam Hughes, (the soon-to-be embattled Canadian Minister of Militia and Defence), in the United Kingdom. Although Beaverbrook was to collect and funnel information on the war back to Canada, on his own initiative, he enlarged this role by becoming something of a Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) historian and publicist. Using the newspapers he owned, Beaverbrook was able to write and publish positive coverage about the CEF overseas, often “highlighting their distinctiveness in relation to British soldiers” (Canadian War Museum, Lord Beaverbrook, 2017). Beaverbrook also variously authored, co-authored, and/or edited a three-volume contemporary history of the CEF titled Canada In Flanders. 

Facing resistance from the Canadian War Office, Beaverbrook then put forward his own funds to establish the Canadian War Records Office, with the goal of recording and publicizing the Canadian war effort. Due to Beaverbrook’s persistence, official photographers, filmmakers, and war artists were eventually permitted to record the scenes at the Canadian front, arriving mid-1916. Beaverbrook simultaneously created the Canadian War Memorials Fund, commissioning official war artists to paint scenes of the entire nation’s war effort. Nearly 120 British and Canadian artists were employed, three of whom were future Group of Seven members, and close to 1,000 works were created of both the war and home front. In 1918, Beaverbrook was appointed Minister of Information of the newly formed Ministry of Information, assuming responsibility for propaganda in the Commonwealth and neutral countries.  

Major Richard Jack paints the iconic The Second Battle of Ypres, 22 April to 25 May 1915 in his London studio. Historic works such as these were only made possible by Lord Beaverbrook’s establishment of the Canadian War Memorials Fund.
Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-004879

As a lasting legacy of the whirlwind entrepreneur, nearly 8,000 photographs produced by the Canadian War Records Office preserve Canada’s First World War history at Library And Archives Canada. Sadly, a large portion of the film collection was destroyed in a fire at the National Film Board in 1967. Meanwhile, the large canvases of war art were shuffled from various basements and vaults of the National Art Gallery before finally reaching the Canadian War Museum in the 1970’s. Slowly, these works have been carefully restored, preserved and displayed as the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art.

Learn more about Canada’s War Art by clicking here. 

The Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation is the generous benefactor of the Vimy Foundation’s flagship student program, the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize, which offers prestigious summer scholarships to youth 15-17 years of age to study the interwoven history of Canada, France and Great Britain during the First and Second World Wars. 

Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – August 21, 2016

Our final day in Paris before we all parted ways was amazing! We some fascinating areas of Paris, both on the Bateau Mouche, boat tour along the Seine River, as well as the First World War gallery at Napoleon’s tomb at Les Invalides, and Sacre Coeur and surroundings in Montmartre.

These past two weeks have been unbelievable! I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity to travel to Europe and to learn about the First and Second World Wars with 19 fascinating people (BVP scholars and chaperone-facilitators).

One hundred years ago, Canadian soldiers were dying on the battlefields across Belgium and France. Because of the 2016 BVP program, I have learned many things that I never could have learned otherwise and through a first-hand experience.

Watching the sun go down at the Vimy Memorial in France and feeling the waves crash against my legs at Juno Beach has made me so thankful for those brave souls who sacrificed so much in the name of our country. These experiences have made me proud of my heritage; I am so proud to be Canadian.

I honestly do not have the words to say what I am feeling at the moment, so I will end this blog post with a heartfelt thank you to everyone who made this experience possible and the words, “we will remember them.”

 – Emily Oakes, Gueph, Ontario


Now that I have been distanced by a few hours and a few thousand kilometres from the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize and my fellow scholars, I can say with certainty something that I expected all along: what happens in BVP doesn’t stay in BVP. It is doubtful that I will have the stamina to have such ferocious and intense passion for remembrance as I had for these two weeks, but that is okay: I simply must be able to ignite it and keep it burning whenever I start to feel far away from all of the brave men and women who fought and gave their lives for my country during the World Wars.

The BVP scholarship is history-focused, without a doubt. But it also has left me and my fellow scholars with a fantastic wealth of knowledge about the world that we live in today as well as inspiration for the future. The program may be over, but BVP isn’t, and therein lies the fundamental reason why BVP is so much more than just an educational trip to Europe.

– Abby Vadeboncoeur, Regina, Saskatchewan



Collage - photos august 22