Each Saturday, we’ll share some reflections from our past student participants about the impact of their visit to Vimy Ridge and other sites of the First World War.
A number of weeks ago, we learned that approximately 29% of Canadians are descendants of First World War servicemen. In 2014, Beaverbrook Vimy Prize recipient Brandon Taschuk faced the significance of that fact when he explored the battlefield of Passchendaele. In those muddy fields 100 years ago, his great-great-grandfather nearly never made it home: “one of the battles he fought at was the battle of Passchendaele… During an explosion he was flung face-first into one of the many mud bogs. Being a short man, only 5’2″, he was nearly completely enveloped in the mud. His death by drowning was imminent it seemed. But, one of his companions noticed his rather small boots sticking out of the mud, and recognized them as his. He was able to save my great-great grandfather, Benjamin Loney, and because of the Vimy Foundation I was able to stand where my family line almost ended. Not only did I get to walk through the battlefields my ancestor fought at, I also got to walk through the place that could have been the end of my existence, before it even began. I wish words could describe the feelings this trip gave me, but there are no words to describe the intense emotions I experienced and continue to foster after the trip. I only wish that you truly know how thankful I am.”
Credit: Personnel Records of the First World War, Library and Archives Canada, Reference Number: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 5723 – 22. Item Number: 535649.