In Memory of Robert Gerald Fenech
August 9, 1955 – March 30, 2015
Rob passed away suddenly on Monday, March 30, 2015. Born August 9, 1955 in Toronto, Rob was a proud and dedicated employee of the Toronto Transit Commission for 27 years. He had numerous respectable qualities but will be fondly remembered for his great sense of humour, exceptional carpentry skills and his willingness to jump in and help others. He was a staunch supporter of the Vimy Foundation by proudly wearing his Vimy pin on any occasion.
He enjoyed travelling, from visiting his favorite country Brazil to splashing with friends and their children at the Great Wolf Lodge. One of his favorite pastimes was his daily leisurely strolls through Wychwood Park and watching Seinfeld episodes every evening. Rob will be lovingly remembered by his cherished spouse, Madlyn Sue; beloved son of Mary Fenech and the late Joseph Fenech, dear brother of Joe (Anne), Doreen Ciamarra (Tony), Peggy Haslett (Tom), Diane, Louise Kelly (Sean), Paul, and Maryellen MacDonald (Danny); dear brother-in-law of May Yan (John), Karen Fong (Ian), Wayne Sue (Heather) and Jean Sue (Tony); and dear uncle to numerous nieces and nephews.
Family and friends may visit at the Jerrett Funeral Home, 1141 St. Clair Ave. W., Toronto (1 block east of Dufferin St) on Friday from 2-4pm and 6-9pm. The Funeral Service will be on Saturday, April 4, 2015 at 11am in the Jerrett Funeral Home Chapel. Cremation to follow privately.
To make a donation to the Vimy Foundation in honour of Rob, please click here.


The Vimy Pilgrimage Award recognizes the actions of young people who demonstrate outstanding service, positive contributions, notable deeds, bravery or leadership. Their acts may have served their peers, schools, communities, province or country. This award consists of a fully funded, week-long educational program in Vimy, France, to study Canada’s tremendous First World War effort. This year the week is scheduled for April 5 – 13, 2015 and will include classroom education and daily field trips to important First World War sites.

Thank you to our generous supporters of this program: EF Educational Tours Canada and Canada’s History.

Congratulations to this year’s winners:

Somaya Amiri – New Westminster, BC

Michael Batas – Calgary, AB

Kathleen Blundon – Mount Pearl, NL

Noémie Cloutier – Montréal, QC

Hicham El Bayadi – Orleans, ON

Emma Doucette – Johnston’s River, PE

Evan Dyson – Brandon, MB

Hilary Friesen – Halifax, NS

Émélie Gagnon – DSL de Grand-Sault, NB

Branden Handrahan – Bragg Creek, AB

Jonah Lee-McNamee – Vancouver, BC

Annie Martel – St-Pierre Jolys, MB

Taiya Melancon – Mayo, YK

Rishabh Nag – Mississauga, ON

Paul Okundaye – Niagara Falls, ON

Tiffany Quon – Vancouver, BC

Emily Roach – Blind River, ON

Madeleine Robitaille – Rhodes Corner, NS

Jessica Scott – Regina, SK

Nikolas Starzomski-Wilson – Howie Center, NS


THE VIMY OAKS of Scarborough-Agincourt

Saturday, January 24, 2015

On April 9, 1917, Vimy Ridge was captured by Canadian forces and, with the victory that claimed nearly 11,000 Canadian casualties and lives, Canada became a nation.

Born in 1889 in Milliken north of Agincourt, Leslie Miller survived three and a half years of trench warfare in World War I with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, including the historic battles at Paschendale, Ypres and Vimy.  After the Vimy battle was won, many soldiers realized that they had been part of something truly great. Leslie Miller looked around for a souvenir on the Ridge, which was completely devoid of structures or vegetation due to shell fire but he did find a half buried oak tree. He gathered up a handful of acorns.

Those acorns were subsequently planted by him on farm land which is now home to the Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church. He called his farm the ‘Vimy Oaks Farm’.  Today, several of the original oaks survive. However, there are no original oaks on the Vimy Ridge site.

Monty McDonald, as a teenager, worked with Leslie Miller on his farm. In remembrance of him and all our Canadian soldiers, Monty came up with the idea of repatriating the Vimy Oaks of Scarborough-Agincourt back to Vimy, France.
And so, the Vimy Oaks Team was formed to help preserve and promote Canada’s WWI legacy through the creation of a living memorial.

In partnership with the Vimy Foundation, we are working to grow and plant up to 120 trees at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France for the 100th Anniversary, April 9, 2017.

Today the process begins with professional arborists taking cuttings (scions) from the crowns of the oaks which will be grafted onto base root stock – quercus robur. Like Ice Wine this process must be done in the cold weather. The saplings will be grown at Connon Nurseries in Waterdown, Ontario using an accelerated method. In two years time, 125 cm young oak saplings will be ready for shipment via air to France.

We hope to arrange a ceremonial planting involving all the Canadian regiments that fought in WWI on the 100th Anniversary in April 2017.

Lest we forget.


Monty McDonald, Lead retired Engineer with extensive project development experience.
Dr. Ron Ayling is a forester, with some 30 years experience in project development and management, and is now Editor of the Forestry Chronicle, a Canada-wide forestry magazine.
Dave Lemkay General Manager of the Canadian Forestry Association, instrumental in planting of Canadian Maples at Juno Beach centre in Normandy, France on D Day Anniversary.
Ed Lawrence well known gardening expert and radio personality with many industry contacts.
Tony DiGiovanni Director Landscape Ontario
Case Vanderkruk and Andrew Barbour Connon Nurseries.
Colonel Ralph Coleman (retd) former director public affairs Canadian Military.
Patricia Sinclair local community activist with a network of contacts; public relations expertise.

Key Supporters and Volunteers:
Andrew Cowell, Chris Brown, Caitlin Ayling: arborists responsible for initial harvesting.
Members of the Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church for overall support of the project.


Representing Veterans Affairs The Honourable Peter Kent, Member of Parliament for Thornhill stated: “I applaud the Vimy Oaks team for preserving the legacy of First World War Veteran Leslie Miller. These trees stand as a symbol of the strength and determination of those who gave so much nearly 100 years ago, and it is truly an honour to be here to witness the beginning of what will become a lasting reminder of the Canadian sacrifice on Vimy Ridge.” « Je félicite l’équipe responsable des chênes de Vimy de leurs efforts en vue de préserver le patrimoine de M. Leslie Miller, vétéran de la Première Guerre mondiale. Ces arbres représentent la force et la détermination de tous ceux et celles qui ont tant donné il y a près de 100 ans, et c’est un véritable honneur d’être témoin du début de ce qui sera un rappel durable du sacrifice canadien sur la crête de Vimy. » L’honorable Peter Kent, député de Thornhill

Vimy Foundation Executive Director, Jeremy Diamond stated: “To commemorate the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 2017, the Vimy Foundation, in partnership with the Government of Canada, is spearheading the building of the Vimy Education Centre, which will be located at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France. We are thrilled to partner with the Vimy Oaks project, the trees from which will make a fitting complement to the Centre and site. Congratulations on this wonderful initiative.”

“I comment Vimy Oaks for their work in highlighting the unique links between Scarborough-Agincourt and one of Canada’s most important military achievements. As we near the centennial of this seminal battle for Canada’s Expeditionary Force, programs, like the one by Vimy Oaks, will help remind us of all the sacrifices made by many Canadians so that we can have the freedoms that make Canada the nation it is today.” Arnold Chan, Member of Parliament, Scarborough-Agincourt.

Media Contact: Patricia Sinclair (416) 498-8199 /

Click here to read the article in the Toronto Star: “On Vimy Ridge, mighty oaks will grow again – thanks to a Canadian soldier”

Click here to listen to a radio interview: 680News reporter Kris McCusker speaks with Jeremy Diamond, executive director of the Vimy Foundation.

Click here for additional photos in the Vimy Oaks album on our Facebook page.


Curious about how the young sapling are coming along? CityNews Videographer Audra Brown finds out more about saplings grown from oaks that originated in Vimy Ridge which will eventually be planted in France. Click here for the video update.


Three in Ten (27%) Canadians Will Attend a Remembrance Day Ceremony This Year, 23% Said they Went Last Year

Vimy Foundation poll shows 82% Support Making November 11 a National Holiday

Toronto, ON – November 9, 2014 – Three in ten (27%) Canadians say that they will attend an official Remembrance Day service on November 11th this year, an increase over the 23% who said they attended one last year, according to a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of the Vimy Foundation.

There has been a great deal of attention placed on the sacrifice of Canadian soldiers recently, given the tragic killings of Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent on Canadian soil. Despite this, the 27% of Canadians who say they will attend a ceremony this year is down from the 30% who, in 2012, said they would attend.

There is presently a bill before Parliament that would make Remembrance Day a national statutory holiday. The poll shows that most (82%) Canadians would support November 11th being made holiday (down 3 points since a similar poll conducted in 2012), while just 18% would not (up 3 points).

While most Canadians won’t be attending an official service this year, eight in ten (77%) say that they will observe two minutes of silence at 11 o’clock on November 11th (down 3 points), and an equal proportion (77%, down 5 points) are wearing a poppy in the lead up to Remembrance Day.

Honouring Canada’s Fallen…

The data show that some Canadians are more likely than others to remember Canada’s fallen in various ways:

Those in Alberta (41%) and Atlantic Canada (39%) are most likely to say they will attend an official ceremony, followed by those living in British Columbia (31%), Ontario (31%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (20%) and Quebec (9%).
Atlantic Canadians (94%) and Ontarians (90%) are most likely to say they will observe two minutes of silence at 11 o’clock on November 11th, followed by those in British Columbia (76%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (74%), Alberta (71%) and Quebec (55%).
Atlantic Canadians (94%) and British Columbians (90%) are most likely to say they’re wearing a poppy in the lead up to November 11th, followed by those living in Ontario (87%), Alberta (83%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (79%) and Quebec (43%).
Atlantic Canadians (94%) and residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (94%) are most likely to support Remembrance Day being made a national holiday, followed by a majority of those in British Columbia (88%), Ontario (84%), Alberta (81%) and Quebec (71%).
For more information

Jeremy Diamond
Executive Director
416.722.9754 (cell)


Global News, November 9, 2014: “More Canadians plan to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies: poll

Almost three in 10 Canadians say they plan to attend a Remembrance Day ceremony this year, according to a new poll.

That number is higher than last year and has been steadily rising for more than a decade, says Jeremy Diamond, executive director of The Vimy Foundation. Five years ago, around 18 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they would attend a service.

The poll, done by Ipsos Reid for The Vimy Foundation and released to Global News, found that 27 per cent of those asked planned to attend a service this year.

Click here to read the full story on Global News, including poll results about attitudes on a November 11 national holiday and wearing a poppy.


To mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, the Vimy Foundation hosted an event on October 6, 2014 at the Royal Canadian Military Institute in downtown Toronto, where retired CBC journalist Brian Stewart had a discussion with historian and National Post columnist Conrad Black. The theme of the evening’s conversation was “1914-2014: A Century of Aftershocks.”

The National Post attended this event and printed a transcript of their discussion on October 20, 2014. It has been edited for length and clarity. You can find the text of the article here:


The Vimy Foundation is proud to announce the appointment of Jeremy Diamond as Executive Director, effective September 24, 2014.

For 20 years, Jeremy has had a profound influence in the field of Canadian public history in positions that have included Managing Director at Historica Canada (formerly The Historica-Dominion Institute). He has created a number of high profile initiatives designed to ensure our country’s rich history remains exciting, interactive, and accessible to Canadians – particularly young people –  and been a successful advocate for the increase in Canadian history curriculum in our schools and popular programming in our communities.

Jeremy joined the Vimy Foundation in May 2013 as Campaign Director and has been spearheading the Vimy Foundation’s centennial campaign, which will culminate in a state-of-the-art Vimy Education Centre set for completion in April 2017.

As Executive Director, Jeremy will be the public face of the Vimy Foundation and be accountable for the direction, funding and day-to-day management of all operations and guide the organization toward becoming the preeminent leader in the field of First World War public history in Canada.

Jeremy can be reached at 416.595.1917, via email, and LinkedIn as well as through the Vimy Foundation’sTwitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.


Each year TPL organizes a tour of battle sites for the Young Presidents’ Organization during which a representative of the Vimy Foundation speaks about the importance of the battle of Vimy Ridge, the impact on Canadian National Identity, and the legacy of Vimy. Please click on the link for photos:


On Wednesday, June 11, 2014, the Ambassador of France, Philippe Zeller, alongside Madame Odile Zeller, hosted the fourth annual Vimy Reception at the French Embassy in Ottawa.

In honour of the 97th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, addressed close 200 guests. Vimy Foundation supporters also enjoyed a speech about the battle of Vimy Ridge by renowned historian and author Dr. Tim Cook, as well as live entertainment, fine French wine, and culinary delights prepared by the Embassy’s chef.

The Vimy Foundation was honoured to be presented with a $25,000.00 donation from Joanne R. Sutherland and Robert Douglas for the new education centre to be built at the site of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. The donation was made in honour of Ms. Sutherland’s father, James Ross Sutherland from Manitoba, who was wounded at the battle of Vimy Ridge.


Under the honorary co-chairmanship of Mr. Stéphan Crétier, Founder, President and CEO of Garda World, and of Mr. Luc Ouellet, Managing Director, Investment Banking of TD Securities, the third annual edition of La Grande Soirée Fondation Vimy was a resounding success.

La Grande Soirée Fondation Vimy 2014 raised more than $150,000, a record for this charity event in Montreal. Over two hundred representatives from the business world and military, education, arts and cultural communities attended the June 17th event at McGill University’s historic Redpath Hall.

La Grande Soirée Fondation Vimy 2014 was presented to raise funds for the Vimy Foundation’s important youth education programs. These programs reach close to 18,000 Canadian youth across the country and benefit 200 exceptional high school students annually. One such program, the Vimy Pilgrimage Award, recognizes exemplary young Canadians for their distinguished service, positive contributions, notable deeds, bravery, and leadership.

As a result of this annual fundraising event, the Vimy Foundation aims to further develop these programs which will allow a greater number of high school students to participate. As the foundation strives to preserve and promote the Canadian legacy of the First World War, funds raised will also go towards commemoration projects for the 100th anniversary of the battle at Vimy ridge. The victory in April 1917 symbolizes an event in history which was the first major moment when Canada identified itself as a nation and was recognized internationally.

As the centennial anniversary of Vimy Ridge approaches, the foundation will play a leading role in building a state-of-the-art Education Centre to be unveiled on April 9, 2017 on grounds adjacent to the Vimy Memorial in France. The Government of Canada has committed $5 million to the project, and the Vimy Foundation aims to raise an additional $10–15 million.