Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – 10 August 2017

Today in Oxford, the 2017 BVP group toured Oxford University and attended seminars by guest speakers Dr. Emma Login and Dr. Aimee Fox. They also tried punting and participated in our “BVP Amazing Race” Oxford edition! Please note: participants will blog in their mother tongue.

It is not every day that I get to talk with history PhDs about their field of study. Today, we had the privilege of learning from two such experts.

Our morning started with a lecture from Dr. Aimee Fox, who spoke to us about theaters of WWI outside of the Western Front. We learned of soldiers, whose voices had been muffled in our school curriculums, who had been deployed to Gallipoli, Salonica, Cairo, and more. We learned of the isolation, desolation, and exhaustive heat these men faced, and how, in spite of working hard to serve and often contracting illness, they were not regarded as highly as the soldiers of the Western trenches.

Following this, Dr. Emma Login opened up a conversation about memorials – their perceived value and how that changes across diverse populations and over time. We learned of symbolism, abstraction, representation, and function, examining in depth the specific cases of WWI memorials.

These lectures were not simply lectures – they were conversations. Throughout, I felt the compulsion to scribble some new insight in my notebook far too many times.

Enshia Li, Richmond Hill, ON


Today we had the privilege of traveling to Oxford. It wasn’t anything like I expected, in a good way, as I had no idea about all the beautiful architecture and museums. I also wasn’t aware of the deep history surrounding the university, such as the story behind “All Souls.” But along with the history, we also learned many team building skills and bonded further as a group. After we had some free time to roam around Oxford, we all partook in the Oxford/BVP version of “The Amazing Race.” In our leadership teams we raced around trying to be the first team to complete the task, which caused us collaborate our ideas in order to solve the problems and helped us bond. After that we went punting, which was a new experience for all of us. It was very hard – trying to propel a long slim boat along a river, with a small current, with a long metal rod, is not for a short person like myself. Because it was so hard, albeit really fun, we had to work together to try and paddle our way down the river. Today I feel we bonded and grew closer as a group. I feel like this will be important as we travel to Ypres tomorrow to a more sombre scene of remembrance as we visit more memorials and cemeteries.

Abigail Garrett, Conception Bay, NL

The BVP 2017 group in front of the History door at Bodleian Library, Oxford. Credit: Thomas Littlewood, Vimy Foundation 2017.

Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – 9 August 2017

Today in London, our 2017 BVP students visited the Imperial War Museum where they attended lectures by Dr. Anna Maguire and Dr. James Wallis, explored the Churchill War Rooms, and were guided through a memorials walking tour. Please note: participants will blog in their mother tongue.

Our first stop in London today was the Imperial War Museum where we had the pleasure of learning from two excellent guest speakers, Dr. Anna Maguire and Dr. James Wallis who spoke on the lasting legacies and impacts of the First World War. I really enjoyed these presentations as they provided many new things to consider about the war and a new perspective on the conflict. We visited the First World War Gallery and Dr. Wallis answered questions for us as we walked through. It was very effective for me as they had a beautifully laid out exhibit with a huge array of artifacts with comprehensive backstories. From the exhibit, I definitely felt the impact that the war had on the UK, along with many other nations. The museum allowed me to clearly see the important details and stories behind the war, and I ultimately learned a lot. Next, we visited the Churchill War Rooms, and there, we saw the Second World War’s side of things. The complexity of the stuffy underground bunkers was stunning, and it showed me yet again how a war impacted the UK. Seeing these bunkers, I felt a great deal of pride from the resilience that was shown by the British people in those harsh times, and it was quite moving. Overall, I had an absolutely incredible day, and I learned so much. I can’t wait for tomorrow!

Cole Oien, Calgary, AB


Today was the first full day in London and in Hyde Park we visited the Canadian war memorial. It’s a small one, slightly sunken into the ground surrounded by a grove of maple trees. On clear days, the sun would reflect in the water running down the memorial’s slanted surface and over the maple leaves which are embedded in the stone. But today, rain splashed off the bath running down its centre. As we approached, one of the group suggested that it looked like the bow of a ship. But I saw a shipwreck, sticking out of the water with the waves crashing over.

I ran my hand over a maple leaf, with the water washing over it. As the water flowed past, so much flowed with it: time, lives lost in the war. Was it wasted time? Were they wasted lives? The path in the middle of the memorial looked very much like a trench in the rain. This was where they died on the ships, in the trenches, and in the cloud-filled sky. I felt it was a very powerful memorial.

David Alexander, Pointe-Claire QC

Group outside the Imperial War Museum.

Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – 8 August 2017

Today the 2017 BVP recipients all met in London and visited Westminster Abbey and Parliament.
Please note: participants will blog in their mother tongue.

Today was a fantastic first day of the Vimy Beaverbrook Prize! Our team of 16 students and 4 chaperones journeyed from many different provinces (and countries) to congregate at the Harrow School in London, England, where we began to get to know each other through some ice-breaker games. We’ve really got a great group of people with a diverse range of interests and personalities that will make our experience all the more enjoyable!

After lunch, we toured the British Parliament building, Westminster Palace. In contrast to our Canadian Parliament, this building is much larger and older. Like our Canadian Parliament, it too has been damaged by fire. With the frequent debate on Senate Reform back home, it was interesting to hear how the reformed system works in the UK, including that Lords are not paid, and that most cannot even fit in the upper chamber! It was also cool to see the original copy of the British North America Act of 1867 (and various other founding documents of Canada), which created the Dominion of Canada, 150 years ago.

Tomorrow, we’ll be visiting the Imperial War Museum, hearing from education speakers, and exploring the Churchill War Rooms, the British Prime Minister’s bunkers from the Second World War.

Evan Kanter, Toronto, ON


Aujourd’hui était le premier jour de notre programme avec la Fondation Vimy. Personnellement, je venais de Paris et j’étais hâte de rencontrer le reste du groupe qui était déjà à l’école Harrow. À Londres, nous sommes descendus du bus à l’Abbaye de Westminster puis nous nous sommes baladés dans Parliament Square ou l’on peut notamment voir des statues de Churchill, Mandela et Gandhi. Ensuite nous avons visité le parlement, situé dans le Palais de Westminster. Il y avait une exposition intéressante sur le Parlement pendant la Première Guerre Mondiale. Pour célébrer les 150 ans du Canada, des documents relatifs à son indépendance étaient exposés. Le parlement était une visite très intéressante pour mieux comprendre comment le Royaume-Uni est gouverné et comment ses parlements ont évolué. C’était une longe journée, donc nous sommes directement rentrés à Harrow ou nous avons diné. Nous avons donc passé une superbe journée pendant laquelle nous avons eu la chance de mieux nous connaitre et de mieux nous préparer dans notre compréhension du rôle du Royaume-Uni dans les Guerres mondiales.

Paul Toqueboeuf, Boulogne, France

Group photo in front of Westminster Abbey.

Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – 7 August 2017

The Beaverbrook Vimy Prize participants and chaperones, ready to fly out of Toronto Pearson International Airport on 7 August 2017.

Today students selected from across Canada have embarked on the Vimy Foundation’s Beaverbrook Vimy Prize! Follow our 2017 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize recipients as they blog about their First and Second World War history education experience! (Please note: participants will blog in their mother tongue.)  Today’s first blogs come from our four chaperones.

Today is our departure day for the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize and we are so excited to begin the program with our outstanding scholars from across Canada, England and France. The students have done much personal preparation through reading, study and researching and in connecting with a soldier from their hometown who they are going to commemorate at their resting place. We are excited to engage them in discussions and activities to make sense of their experiences and will work together to document what they have learned in order to share with their families, classmates and communities upon their return home. The 2017 BVP program will indeed be a life-changing experience. We look forward to sharing the stories of our journey with you!

-Katy Whitfield, 2017 BVP Education Coordinator & Chaperone


I am delighted to be embarking upon another Beaverbrook Vimy Prize program and so excited to meet this year’s incredible students. As the UK Coordinator for the program, part of my job involves arriving early to make sure everything is in order, so I am already in Harrow; I look forward to welcoming the rest of the group here tomorrow morning! Our philosophy on the BVP is that it is teaching students how to think critically about war and remembrance that is most important, and they are about to have a very full two weeks of challenging and engaging learning.

-Hanna Smyth, 2017 BVP Coordinator for the UK & Chaperone


As a first-time chaperone in the BVP program, I’m so excited to meet all of our scholars, who are already such accomplished young people. I’m looking forward to learning from you and with you about the histories of the men and women from our communities who served in the First and Second World Wars as we visit many sites of personal and national significance to all of us. Let the learning adventure begin!

-Rachel Collishaw, 2017 BVP Chaperone


This is a full-circle moment for me: I was a participant on the 2009 BVP and it is a joy to be a chaperone this year. The students have worked hard to prepare for the program and I am thrilled to be accompanying them and to learn from them. The chaperone team, which I am honoured to be a part of, has also worked hard preparing an educational program to challenge, inspire, and educate the BVP participants. Each day, two or three of the participants will use this space to share with you what they’ve seen, learned, and felt throughout the program. We look forward to sharing the journey with you.

-Thomas Littlewood, 2017 BVP Chaperone