Trudeau heading to France to mark the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge

PM heads to France to mark Vimy Ridge anniversary

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on his way to France, as Canadians prepare to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

As many as 25,000 Canadians will join Trudeau and other dignitaries as they pause in the shadows of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial on Sunday to reflect and remember.

Millions more are expected to watch and listen by radio and TV, or attend local commemorative ceremonies.

Sunday’s commemorative ceremony in Vimy is being billed as a chance to mark what has come to be seen as a seminal moment in Canada’s history.

The two-hour event will include musical and dramatic performances by well-known Canadians such as Paul Gross and Lorena McKennitt, as well as speeches by French President Francois Hollande and Prince Charles.

The battle is noteworthy for a number of reasons, including it being the first time all four Canadian divisions fought together during the First World War.

The Canadians went over the top the morning of April 9, 1917, Easter Monday, charging out of their trenches toward the strategically important ridge then held by the Germans.

Employing a number of revolutionary tactics, including following an slow moving artillery barrage, the Canadians were able to succeed where past British and French attacks had failed by capturing and holding the ridge.

But the four-day battle wasn’t without heavy cost, as 3,598 Canadians were killed and another 7,000 wounded.

Even then, it would be another 19 years, when the iconic Canadian National Vimy Memorial was unveiled in 1936, before the battle would start to become an important part of Canada’s national identity.

Historians today generally agree that Vimy was not the most important of Canada’s First World War battles.

Others were bigger, bloodier and more decisive in terms of bringing about an end to the war.

But it has taken on a special symbolism for Canada’s entire experience during the First World War, which saw it transform from a British colony to a country in its own right.

Trudeau is scheduled to visit Juno Beach on Monday, where he will mark Canada’s contributions during the Second World War.

– Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitter

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

‘Listen to your gut’ urges injured skier

Mike Shaw was told he’d never walk again after an accident four years ago, but he defied the odds

Riverdale actor from the South Okanagan returns to his theatre roots

Cody Kearsley, Moose on Riverdale, on his latest theatre production

Okanagan Taste: Annual open houses start the holiday season

Allison Markin is a food and libations column focusing on the Okanagan

Interior Health expands meningococcal precautions in South Okanagan

Oliver, Osoyoos and Okanagan Falls included in the expanded precautionary immunization measure

City hopes to clear smoke with one last dispensary

Two of three have signed consent orders to convert to wellness centres, rather than dispensaries

What’s happening

Find out what’s happening in your community this weekend

‘I will now live in consistent fear’: Allan Schoenborn granted escorted leaves

The Merritt man was deemed not criminally responsible in the killing of his three children in 2008

Guns and drugs seized in Kamloops RCMP blitz

Kamloops Mounties and the gang unit seize drugs and make arrests in two-day blitz

Hammy the deer dodges conservation officers in Prince Rupert

The famous Prince Rupert hammock deer maintains his purple threads

‘No shirt, no service, no Canada’

Shirtless Tacoma man arrested after Canadian border officials say they found meth in rental vehicle

Missing woman smart, courageous, lovable

Mother says Caitlin Potts trying to overcome foster care experience

Federal funding to combat guns, gangs and opioid crisis

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said illicit drugs are often main cause of guns, gangs violence

Riverview youth mental health centre proceeds

Replacement for Maples Treatment Centre first announced in March

Dead boy’s father posts Facebook response after Appeal Court upholds conviction

David, Collet Stephan were found guilty in their son Ezekiel’s 2012 death from bacterial meningitis

Most Read