An interesting fact about the square kilometer of land surrounding the Canadian National Vimy Memorial found on Hill 145 in the the Pas-de-Calais is that this is Canadian soil — France’s gift to Canada for taking Vimy and its war effort. From Veteran Affairs Canada website, the agency charged with taking care of the memorial:
The land for the battlefield park, 91.18 hectares (250 acres) in extent, was (as stated on a plaque at the entrance to the Memorial) “the free gift in perpetuity of the French nation to the people of Canada”. Eleven thousand tonnes of concrete and masonry were required for the base of the Memorial and 5,500 tonnes of “trau” stone were brought from Yugoslavia for the pylons and the sculptured figures. Construction of the massive work began in 1925 and 11 years later, on July 26, 1936, King Edward VIII unveiled the monument.
The CBC –radio and TV — has had some very good coverage of today’s anniversary ceremony, but also of the rehabilitation of the memorial over the past few years. It has been one of those days when the CBC does a good job of reminding us about Canada. Listening to it today along the 401 we passed by the giant Canadian flag at the Husky Truck Stop just east of London flying at half staff for the six soldiers in Afghanistan who died this weekend. I have never seen the massive flag that low — it nearly touched the ground — I’m almost certain the cars were even slowing down a little.
(Top photo of “Mother Canada” weeping by Fred Bear)