Vimy Ridge is known by historians and Canadian citizens alike as a defining moment for Canada, where our country emerged from the shadows into greatness.
It was the first time the Canadian Corps fought as a unified fighting force, not divided amongst the British forces.
This weekend, we honoured those who fought and the over 10,000 Canadians who were killed and wounded in taking Hill 45 April 9th-12th, 1917, with the dedication of an oak sapling.
Lieutenant Miller, a Canadian soldier, wanted to take home a souvenir from the battle.
But the ground was completely devoid of structure and vegetation due to the hellish shell fire during battle.
He came across some acorns collected from oak trees around the hill, and planted them at his farm in Scarborough, Ontario.
They grew tall, and the area became known as ‘Vimy Oaks Farm.’
Although there are no original oaks on Vimy, several of the oaks at the farm survive.
In 2017, to mark 100 years of Vimy Ridge, saplings from these trees were sent back to France to be planted at the site.
They were also made available to be distributed to groups across Canada, and our local legion, with the help of MP Terry Sheehan, Thirsty Thursday group, and the Greenwood Cemetery staff, was successful in purchasing and planting the sapling.
This will preserve Canada’s First World War legacy, through the creation of a living memorial right here in our home of Sault Ste. Marie.
The history buff in me felt honoured and privileged to observe this ceremony.
It is truly amazing that members of our community will be able to observe original oak and pass on the story of Vimy Ridge and Canadian nationalism for generations to come.
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For more information on your local legion, click here.