#100DaysofVimy – January 22, 2017

Each Sunday we will share a story of Remembrance.

Part I:

Will R. Bird’s “Thirteen Years After” – In the years immediately following the First World War, acts of honouring the battles and the men who fought quickly declined. In Canada, the economic prosperity of the 1920’s left little time to dwell on the past. But in 1932, one veteran’s tour of the “old” battlefields re-united veterans and brought Great War nostalgia back into mainstream society.

Will R. Bird, M.M. served with the 42nd Canadian Infantry Battalion (The Black Watch) from 1916 – 1919. In 1932, Bird was sent to revisit the battlefields and write articles of reflection for Maclean’s Magazine. Bird’s articles became wildly popular across Canada and helped bring attention to the growing veterans movements. Veterans now in their forties and fifties “were hungry to share their wartime experiences, and Will Bird gave them the chance” (Christie, preface to Thirteen Years After, 2001).

Part II, Will Bird’s tour of the Vimy Ridge battlefield, will be posted next Sunday.

 

In 1932, Will R. Bird returned to the battlefields and witnessed the lasting scars of the war on the landscape. Depicted here are the ruins of the Church at Ablain St. Nazaire.  Photo: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-002462
In 1932, Will R. Bird returned to the battlefields and witnessed the lasting scars of the war on the landscape. Depicted here are the ruins of the Church at Ablain St. Nazaire.  Photo: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-002462

#100DaysofVimy – January 21, 2017

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.

Adam Labrash took part in the Vimy Foundation’s Beaverbrook Vimy Prize in 2016. He reflected on the importance of such an opportunity in the present day:

“I never felt like I was on an educational program, but rather on a mission. The pathway had been set by the Vimy Foundation but the steps were mine to take, with their support. Specifically in times of conflict, such as the present day, this pilgrimage and connection to national identity has never been more relevant. Never have I been more proud to be Canadian or enlightened about our history. Understanding the foundation of our national identity has helped to shape my own identity.”

Find out more about the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize – apply now for 2017!

Adam LaBrash at the Villers Station Cemetery, France in 2016. Photo: the Vimy Foundation / Hanna Smyth.
Adam LaBrash at the Villers Station Cemetery, France in 2016. Photo: the Vimy Foundation / Hanna Smyth.

#100DaysofVimy – January 20, 2017

Each Friday, we will revisit an interesting poll result from the past few years. How do you compare to other Canadians? See our past poll results here. 

In April 2015, the Vimy Foundation asked Canadians about the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 2017. In response, 74% of Canadians agreed that the Battle of Vimy Ridge should be one of the most important celebrations for Canada during its 150th anniversary year.

What do you think? Do you think that number would be higher if we asked again today? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! #100DaysofVimy

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#100DaysofVimy – January 19, 2017

Each Thursday, we run a social media contest! Share with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (@vimyfoundation) and you can win a Vimy Prize Pack each week! Contest for Thursday, January 19 2017: War poetry! The First World War gave rise to “war poetry” as a stand-alone genre of writing. Unlike prior conflicts, the overwhelming majority of soldiers (and their families) were now literate. Thus a societal shift of expressing the trials of war through writing took place. As a result, the First World War saw an abundance of poetry written by the masses. What poem from the First World War impacts you most?

Guidelines:

Comment on our Facebook post, Instagram post, or tweet at us by 11:59pm PT on Thursday, Jan 19 with the name of a poem from the First World War – include the author and link if possible! Only one submission permitted per account per platform (i.e. if you have an account on both Facebook and Twitter you can enter twice; you cannot submit two entries through Facebook). One winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entries received during the time period on all platforms. The winner will be contacted on Friday January 20, 2017. These contests are not sponsored by Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

 

In Flanders Fields Memorial, Ypres, Belgium. Photo from Mike Di Tomaso.
In Flanders Fields Memorial, Ypres, Belgium. Photo from Mike Di Tomaso.

 

#100DaysofVimy – January 18, 2017

Each Wednesday we will highlight the women of the First World War. Today we highlight Julia Grace Wales.

A graduate of McGill University and Radcliffe College, Canadian Julia Grace Wales was an English professor at the University of Wisconsin during the First World War. Shocked by the violence and brutality of the war, she developed and wrote a proposal to end the hostilities, entitled “Continuous Mediation Without Armistice”. Known as both the Canada Plan and/or Wisconsin Plan, Wales proposed that the then-neutral United States could hold a conference at which leaders of neutral countries would mediate between the warring nations. Wales’ proposal was widely-published and backed by the International Congress of Women.

With U.S. President Woodrow Wilson also supporting the idea, Wales travelled overseas to present the Canada Plan to European governments. However, with America’s entry into the war in 1917, the opportunity for the plan dissolved. Julia Grace Wales’ “Continuous Mediation Without Armistice” can be viewed in its entirety at the link below: http://content.wisconsinhistory.org/cdm/ref/collection/tp/id/48411

 

Canadian Julia Grace Wales, upon graduation from McGill University in 1903. Photo: Julia Grace Wales / Library and Archives Canada, e002343768 / PA-182514
Canadian Julia Grace Wales, upon graduation from McGill University in 1903. Photo: Julia Grace Wales / Library and Archives Canada, e002343768 / PA-182514

#100DaysofVimy – January 17, 2017

Each Tuesday, we will feature a place in Canada (or international!) with a Vimy Ridge connection. Today we highlight Percival Molson Stadium, Montreal.

In 1913, plans to build a sports stadium on the McGill Campus began. McGill graduate  and star athlete, Percival Molson, MC, was greatly involved with leading the Stadium Committee. Initially delayed by the onset of World War One, the stadium opened in 1915. The first event held on the stadium grounds was in fact a sports program hosted by the McGill Canadian Officers Training Corps auxiliary battalion. Molson went on to serve as a Captain with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. On July 5, 1917, Captain Percival Molson, MC was killed by a German howitzer during fighting at Avion, near Vimy Ridge.

His will bequeathed $75,000 towards the construction expenses of the McGill stadium. In 1919, McGill’s Board of Governors officially renamed the venue the Percival Molson Memorial Stadium. For further reading, click here.

Have you visited the Percival Molson Stadium in Montreal? Did you know its connection to the First World War? Let us know!

Captain Percival Molson in uniform, circa 1915. Photo: McGill University Archives, PR041491
Captain Percival Molson in uniform, circa 1915. Photo: McGill University Archives, PR041491

 

#100DaysofVimy – January 16, 2017

Each Monday, we will share a brief biography of a soldier of the First World War with a Vimy connection. Today we honour George McLean, DCM.

George McLean, DCM, was a member of the Head of the Lake Band  from the Okanagan district in British Columbia, where he lived as a rancher. George’s father, Allan McLean, was one of the four members of the Kamloops Outlaws, hanged for murder in 1881. Ironically, George listed himself as a “cowboy” on his attestation papers for service in the Second South African War of 1899 – 1902, with the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles. At the age of 44, McLean re-enlisted in October 1916 with the 54th Battalion (Kootenay), and had arrived in France by December.

During the battle of Vimy Ridge, McLean went forward with Mills bombs and single-handedly captured 19 prisoners, while disposing of numerous machine-gun posts. For his actions George McLean was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

 

George McLean, standing at the right, labelled himself a "cowboy" in his attestation papers for service in the Second South African War of 1899 - 1902. Photo: Library and Archives Canada
George McLean, standing at the right, labelled himself a “cowboy” in his attestation papers for service in the Second South African War of 1899 – 1902. Photo: Library and Archives Canada

 

George McLean's attestation papers with the Canadian Mounted Rifles - note line 6 where George labels his Trade as a "Cowboy". Photo: Library and Archives Canada
George McLean’s attestation papers with the Canadian Mounted Rifles – note line 6 where George labels his Trade as a “Cowboy”. Photo: Library and Archives Canada

#100DaysofVimy – January 15, 2017

Each Sunday we will share a story of Remembrance connected to Vimy.

Before the Armistice of November 11, 1918, Remembrance ceremonies in Canada were held annually on February 27, “Paardeberg Day”, to commemorate a significant Canadian victory of the Second South African War of 1899 – 1902 and its veterans. Just like the November 11 Remembrance Day of today, Canadians gathered at cenotaphs and memorials across the country.

Many of these were the first war memorials to be built in Canada and still stand to this day. The city of Toronto’s South African War Memorial was designed by Walter Allward, the future sculptor of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. With the Armistice of November 11, 1918, observance of Paardeberg Day on February 27 was ultimately absorbed into the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies of November 11 that arose from the First World War.

 

South African War Memorial, 1908, (Walter Seymour Allward). City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 192.
South African War Memorial, 1908, (Walter Seymour Allward).

#100DaysofVimy – January 14, 2017

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. 

Janice Noble participated in Encounters with Canada in Ottawa during Vimy Week 2015, in the Vimy Foundation’s program Vimy: Canada’s Coming of Age. She writes:

“This week was very special to me for many reasons. My great uncle fought at Vimy and died near Arras in June 1918. It was an honour to be able to come to this week at EWC. I had the chance to speak at the Vimy Commemorative Ceremony, which was also an honour. This week was equally incredible because I had the chance to make new friends from all across Canada. I now know people from nearly every province!” – Janice Noble, Nova Scotia, EWC 2015 

Find out more about Encounters With Canada here.

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#100DaysofVimy – January 13, 2017

Each Friday, we will revisit an interesting poll result from the past few years. How do you compare to other Canadians? See our past poll results here. 

In 2015, we marked the centennial of the writing of In Flanders Fields, the iconic Canadian poem from Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. Can you recite In Flanders Fields by memory? How do you compare to other Canadians? #100DaysofVimy

 

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