Winnipeg veterans march to remember Vimy Ridge on 100th anniversary

Cheryl Sanders
April 11, 2017

Trudeau said one of the 80,000 Canadians in the battle, 20-year-old William Bell, had written home on April 7, 1917 to praise the cake his family had sent to the trenches.

PARIS (AP) — More than 20,000 people, majority Canadians, attended a solemn ceremony Sunday to commemorate a World War I battle in northern France that remains indelibly etched on Canada's national identity 100 years after it happened.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and French President Francois Hollande shake hands following an official welcoming ceremony at city hall in Arras, France on Sunday, April 9, 2017.

The centennial has stimulated great interest in Canada, and about 25,000 Canadians traveled to the Vimy memorial this week to honor the memory of the men who lived to win a great victory that day or died in the process - in a war that divided Canada at the time along linguistic lines. And we must believe it: "Never again".

They were joined by British Royalty, the Canadian Prime Minister and thousands of ordinary Canadians - including about 15 local cadets. "Today, we remember them and all who serve".

"Those spires stand for peace and for freedom", Johnston said.

On the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge, Premier Rachel Notley shared her thoughts on Alberta's contribution to the war effort.

The battle of Vimy Ridge began on 9 April 1917, and was part of a larger British-led offensive known as the Battle of Arras, in which around 159,000 Allied troops lost their life. Albertans enlisted more than any other province.

But he saved a special thanks for Canada, telling Trudeau and the hundreds of others assembled that the Canadians' actions at Vimy was a turning point for the city - and for all of France.

Others have only sepia-toned photographs or letters and diaries to remember great uncles and distant cousins who were among the 10,500 Canadians killed or wounded during the four-day battle for the ridge.

More than 200 people attended the B.C. Dragoons' tribute to the Battle of Vimy Ridge at the Vernon cenotaph.

Gov. -Gen. David Johnston has also issued a statement regarding Vimy Ridge.

It was the first time that four military divisions from Canada fought together as the Canadian Corps.

"It was an important step in shaking off British colonial rule", he said.

Canadians who died at Vimy Ridge helped shape Canada into a nation committed to peace, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday at a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War battle.

"Vimy is often shorthand for the First World War", says military historian and author Tim Cook, whose most recent book is entitled "Vimy: The Battle and the Legend".

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