LETHBRIDGE: Canada may have officially become a country on July first 1867 but, our
nation was born anew and really took possession of it's identity 96-years ago.
April 9th is Vimy Ridge Day. It was on this day in 1917, that the Battle of
Vimy Ridge began in France. It was the first battle involving all Canadian units
under the command of Arthur Currie, a Canadian. Currie, who later became
Canada's first full General, employed innovative planning and tactics to give
our troops the victory. During the four days of fighting in Vimy, there were
10,500 Canadian casualties. Of those, 1300 died at Vimy Ridge.
What made this battle specific to Canada, was that other attempts to take the
ridge in 1916 had failed with great loss to British and Commonwealth troops. In
1917 the German defence line broke under Canada's assault.
According to information from Glenn Miller (Warrant Officer, retired),
"Modern Canadian identity credits the contribution of Canadians in the War of
1914-1918 as a pivotal point in our sovereignty. Vimy Ridge is identified as the
turning point that allowed Canada to have independence from British status. The
nation was recognized in its own right and given a voice in international
affairs. This freedom to be unique is a part of who Canadians are today
nationally and in the world".
It's now harder to commemorate the actions of Canadians at Vimy Ridge,
because there are no longer any First Word War Veterans alive to tell their
story. Miller, who served in artillery air defence and spent four years as part
of the Cold War protection of air fields at Canadian Forces Base
Baden-Soelligen, Germany, was posted to Lethbridge as part of the Reserves and
now works closely with the local Canadian Legion. Part of his work is to ensure
the service of Canadians during all wars are remembered.
The Canadian actions at Vimy have been commemorated by the Bank Canada on the
new twenty dollar bill. In Southern Alberta, Vimy Peak is located in Waterton
Park and the 20th Independent Battery Armoury was renamed Vimy Ridge Armoury in
2001. This year it will celebrated with the 4th annual mess dinner, which takes
place this weekend at the Vimy Ridge Armoury, with proceeds going towards funds
for the future Military Museum to be located in the Armoury.
The future museum is being established to collect and preserve local military
artifacts and stories from the Boer War onward. While Southern Alberta provided
a large man power contribution, there are minimal artifacts to show that
According to Miller, "As military members pass away, a lot of the memorabilia
they may own may not be preserved, because family members aren't aware of the
significance of the items". Sometimes, those items are simply discarded or sent
to thrift shops.
Miller says, "Certainly any artifacts that people would like to donate or
loan would enhance the collection. The museum is starting off this year, telling
the story (military) of southwest Alberta since the Boer War and we're looking
for artifacts to help share that story".
Miller would like to hear from anyone who may have military or war
memorabilia or artifacts from any of the wars Canada participated in. You can
contact him at 403-360-6076.
Photos: (Above) Vimy Ridge War Memorial in France, Bottom: Canada mourns for her lost soldiers at Vimy, France and the Vimy War Memorial at the Lethbridge Armoury near the airport.