After the Battle of Vimy Ridge was won, many soldiers realized that they had been part of something truly great. Leslie Miller, born in 1889 in Milliken, ON, looked around for a souvenir on the Ridge, which was completely devoid of structures or vegetation due to shell fire but he did find a half buried oak tree. He gathered up a handful of acorns.
Those acorns were subsequently planted by him on farmland which is now home to the Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church. He called his farm the ‘Vimy Oaks Farm’. Today, several of the original oaks survive. However, there are no original oaks on the Vimy Ridge site.
The Vimy Oaks Team is working, in partnership with the Vimy Foundation, to repatriate these Vimy Oaks of Scarborough-Agincourt back to Vimy, France, to help preserve Canada’s WWI legacy through the creation of a living memorial, planted in France for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
In January 2015, the process began with professional arborists taking cuttings (scions) from the crowns of the oaks which will be grafted onto base root stock – quercus robur. Like Ice Wine, this process must be done in the cold weather. The saplings will be grown at Connon NVK nurseries using an accelerated method.
Representing Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Peter Kent, Member of Parliament for Thornhill stated: “I applaud the Vimy Oaks team for preserving the legacy of First World War Veteran Leslie Miller. These trees stand as a symbol of the strength and determination of those who gave so much nearly 100 years ago, and it is truly an honour to be here to witness the beginning of what will become a lasting reminder of the Canadian sacrifice on Vimy Ridge.”
Vimy Foundation Executive Director, Jeremy Diamond stated: “To commemorate the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 2017, the Vimy Foundation, in partnership with the Government of Canada, is spearheading the building of the Vimy Education Centre, which will be located at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France. We are thrilled to partner with the Vimy Oaks project, the trees from which will make a fitting complement to the Centre and site. Congratulations on this wonderful initiative.”
These Vimy Oaks are available for sponsorship, both in the Vimy Centennial Park in France, as well as commemorative trees in Canada – click here to find out more about our Centennial Trees.