What is the Vimy Memorial?

It is Canada’s most impressive tribute overseas to those Canadians who fought and gave their lives in the First World War.  It is majestic and inspiring and overlooks the Doual Plan from the highest point of Vimy Ridge.

It does much more than mark the site of a single engagement.  Canadians remember it with more pride than any other operation of the First World War. It stands as a tribute to “all’ who served our country in battle in that four-year struggle and, particularly, to those who lost their lives.

The German army had captured Vimy Ridge in October of 1914.  British and French troops had been unsuccessful in removing them in the years that had followed.  In the spring of 1917, another attempt was organized.  This time 170,000 Canadian and British soldiers and support personnel were involved in the preparations.   There were 97,000 of them Canadian.  Tunnels were dug, rail supply lines were bought forward.  This would be the first time in WWI that Canadians. would fight as an independent Army Corps.

Thirty thousand (30,000) Canadian soldiers went into battle on Vimy Ridge at 5:30 a.m. on April 9th.  The battle. continued until April 12th, when the Canadians completed their 4th and final objective. Of the 30,000 that began there, 10,602 casualties of which 3,598 died.

A sense of patriotism had not been developed yet in Canada but this event is considered by many to be the ‘Birth of Our Nation’.

The top of the ridge was given to Canada by France as a symbol of “eternal recognition”.  Its twin pylons represent the Canadian and French nations.  Over the decades that have followed, hundreds of thousands of Canadians have visited the memorial that has become a symbol of the honoured spot that Canadians have in the world.

It is much more than just a statue about a single battle.

G. William Streeter,
May 13, 2024