#100DaysofVimy – February 12, 2017

Each Sunday we will share a story of Remembrance.

Part II – Building The Vimy Memorial

The competition process for Canada’s First World War memorials was overseen by the Canadian Battlefields Memorials Commission. In total, 160 drawings were submitted, of which 17 were chosen for further consideration. Despite his design being chosen in 1921, at the time, Walter Allward had not yet even decided which stone he wished to use for the memorial. Upon receiving the Commission’s approval, Allward embarked on a two year journey to find the preferred stone. In an old Roman quarry of Yugoslavia, Allward found the Seget limestone he desired. Six thousand tons of it would travel by water to Venice, where it was then shipped by rail to the site in France. The Canada Bereft figure alone was cut from a single block weighing twenty-eight tons.


Plaster casts of the 17 memorial designs, with the Vimy Memorial in the far background. On the far right is “The Brooding Soldier” designed by F.C. Clemesha, a Canadian veteran of the 46th (South Saskatchewan) Battalion, the only other submission to actually be constructed. As runner-up to Allward’s design, “The Brooding Soldier” was chosen for the Canadian memorial to the Second Battle of Ypres. Despite its smaller size when compared to Vimy, the emotional impact of “The Brooding Soldier” caused the Commission to cancel plans to erect duplicates, so as not to detract from its profound effect.
Credit: CBMC Competition. Veterans Affairs Canada.


Having finally arrived on site, the blocks of Seget limestone were arranged in order of installation. Here the work yard can be seen with the base of the Vimy Memorial in the background.
Credit: W. and M. le Chat. National Gallery of Canada.