#100DaysofVimy – March 22nd, 2017

Each Wednesday we will highlight the women of the First World War. Today:

Mary Riter Hamilton

Trenches On The Somme
“It seemed to me that something was in danger of being lost.” – Hamilton, 1926.
Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1988-180-38.

Mary Riter Hamilton was born in Teeswater, Ontario and raised in Clearwater, Manitoba. Prior to the First World War, Mary studied art and painted in Europe, gaining considerable attention.

At the outbreak of war, Mary was in Canada, where she continuously attempted to gain permission to return to Europe as an official war artist for Canada. Finally in 1919, Mary returned with the task of  producing paintings on behalf of the War Amputations of Canada, providing them for “The Gold Stripe”, a veterans’ magazine.

Mary Riter Hamilton with Richard Wallace in front of a bombed-out church, France, ca. 1919-1922.
Courtesy Ron Riter & Library and Archives Canada.

From 1919 – 1922, Mary produced approximately 300 paintings, enduring harsh weather, makeshift shelters (at times living in old dugouts) and poor food in a war-ravaged countryside. When she returned, Mary was physically and emotionally drained, unable to ever regain the intensity with which she had painted during those three years. In a final gesture, Mary refused to sell her paintings, instead donating them to the National Archives (now Library and Archives Canada) ensuring that they remained the possessions and memories of all Canadians.

Of her need to visit Europe and record the scenes she saw, Mary said:

I came out because I felt I must come, and if I did not come at once it would be too late, because the battlefields would be obliterated, and places watered with the best blood of Canada might be only names and memories. Of course the great facts of the war would remain, and I could add nothing but my pictures to the essential tragedy and meaning of it all, but it seemed to me that something was in danger of being lost.

I do not think I could re-live that time; and I know that anything of worth or anything of beauty which may be found in the pictures themselves reflects only dimly the visions which came then; the visions which came from the spirit of the men themselves.
(Letter from Mary Riter Hamilton to Dr. Arthur Doughty, Dominion Archivist, 27 July 1926).

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#100DaysofVimy – March 21st, 2017

Each Tuesday, we will feature a place in Canada (or international!) with a Vimy Ridge connection. Today we highlight:

The Sailors’ Memorial Clock – Old Port of Montreal

In 1919, the cornerstone of the Sailors’ Memorial Clock was laid by future King Edward VIII, in the Old Port of Montreal. The clock tower is dedicated to the memory of Canadian sailors lost in the First World War. The Vimy Pilgrims departed Canada’s shores from harbour sheds at the foot of the tower in 1936. Visitors today can climb the tower’s 192 steps for a view of the city and harbour along the St. Lawrence River.

Just as many had done during the war, the Vimy Pilgrims of 1936 departed for France from the Montreal Harbour. Depicted here are Sheds 18 & 19 beneath the Sailors’ Memorial Clock in 1926.
Credit: Canada. Dept. of Interior / Library and Archives Canada / e008439076 / PA-044196.
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#100DaysofVimy – March 19th, 2017

Each Sunday we will share a story of Remembrance.

The Vimy Pilgrimage – Part I

The application form for the Vimy Pilgrimage. Pilgrims were required to be the immediate family of someone who had served.
Courtesy: The Canadian Centre for the Great War, 2017.

With the overwhelming success of the Canadian Corps Reunion in 1934, the preparations for a Vimy Pilgrimage were begun in earnest. By 1936, Walter Seymour Allward’s masterpiece atop Vimy Ridge was finally complete. Overseen by the Royal Canadian Legion, the Vimy Pilgrimage was an officially organized travel group, open to veterans and their immediate family, that would take them back to the battlefields of Europe on a three-and-a-half week whirlwind event.

The pilgrimage became a major social affair in Canada and many clamoured to be a part of the occasion. In charge of organizing the travel, the Thomas Cook & Son agency offered additional tour packages for Pilgrims who wished to see more of Europe once the official Pilgrimage was over. In addition to this, the French government stepped forward and offered an additional five days of touring France, completely free to those wishing to participate. Pilgrims were issued special Vimy Pilgrimage Canadian passports, colour-coded berets and buttons, a Vimy Pilgrimage medal,  a “Pilgrim’s haversack” and vast amounts of tickets and certificates pertaining to their meals, boat, train, and bus passage.

Assorted ephemera from the Vimy Pilgrimage, including boarding passes for the sea voyage and identification buttons. The letter envelope was officially “posted” from the crest of Vimy Ridge, at a temporary post office set up specifically for the occasion of the unveiling.
Courtesy: The Canadian Centre for the Great War, 2017.

In July 1936, over 6,200 Pilgrims departed the Montreal Harbour on Allan Line and Canadian Pacific steamships to the sounds of brass bands and cheering crowds, reminiscent of the war-time send-offs.

The packed decks of the Canadian Pacific Steamship, “Montrose”, littered with tickertape confeti, departing the port of Montreal for the Vimy Pilgrimage in June 1936. In the background is the Jacques Cartier Bridge.
Credit: Clifford M. Johnston / Library and Archives Canada / PA-056950.
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#100DaysofVimy – March 18th, 2017

Each Saturday, we’ll share some reflections from our past student participants about the impact of their visit to Vimy Ridge and other sites of the First World War. 

2016 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize recipient Hannah Hardy identifies the name of a missing soldier she has researched on the Vimy Memorial.
Credit: The Vimy Foundation, 2016.

One of the educational advantages of the Vimy Foundation’s scholarship programs is the capturing of a tight-knit group’s reaction to the hardships of war and sacrifice. Hannah Hardy wrote about one of these moments after taking part in the 2016 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize scholarship:

“The moments I experienced at the Vimy Memorial can never be recreated; not only were my emotions strong, but the friends who stood around me who shared their own soldier’s stories had the largest impact. To see other youth like me, so invested in the history and moved to tears by hearing of their sacrifice, was incredible. I am overcome with the motivation to bring this new knowledge back to my community and to try and help them grasp a sense of the experience as told through my stories.”

Beaverbrook Vimy Prize recipients are asked to research the life of a specific Canadian soldier, whom they are then able to visit at a memorial or cemetery, sharing their story and delivering a tribute to their sacrifice.
Credit: The Vimy Foundation, 2016.
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#100DaysofVimy – March 17th, 2017

Each Friday, we will revisit an interesting poll result from the past few years. How do you compare to other Canadians? See our past poll results here: (http://www.vimyfoundation.ca/learn/poll-results/)

Next Sunday, we’ll be posting about the Vimy Pilgrimage of 1936, when over 6,200 Canadians travelled back to Europe for the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial, in what was the largest mass pilgrimage of Canadians to ever return to the battlefields of Europe. In 2017, perhaps for the first time, the original Vimy Pilgrimage may finally be outdone. In fact, an April 2015 poll found that 5% of Canadians say that they or a member of their family is planning to travel to France in 2017 for the centennial observances of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the unveiling of the new Vimy Education Centre.

Source: IPSOS Reid Poll for The Vimy Foundation, April 2015.
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#100DaysofVimy – March 16th, 2017

Each Thursday, we run a social media contest! Share with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and you can win a Vimy Prize Pack each week! Contest for Thursday March 16th, 2017:

The Military Museums of Calgary will open their new exhibit, War Stories 1917 on April 9th, using the words of those who served to depict the three major Canadian battles of 1917 – Vimy, Hill 70 and Passchendaele.

Share A Specific Museum, Exhibit or Collection

On March 2nd we asked for your thoughts on private collections.  Many of you noted that museums tend to provide better access of viewing artifacts to the greater public, while private collections tend to maintain the very personal story of an object that would otherwise be lost in a larger display. In retrospect of this discussion, it is interesting to note that, on average, only 5 – 10%, (and as little as 2%) of a large museum’s collection is ever displayed. Considering this, share with us a specific museum, exhibit, or collection that has left an impression on you and which you think others would appreciate visiting.

War Stories: 1917 features a number of short documentaries on the many personalities who fought in the momentous battles of 1917. We highly suggest going to see the exhibit or visiting the website before it closes on August 25th!


Comment on our Facebook post, Instagram post, or tweet at us by 11:59pm PT on Thursday, March 16th. Only one submission permitted per account per platform (i.e. if you have an account on both Facebook and Twitter you can enter twice; you cannot submit two entries through Facebook). One winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entries received during the time period on all platforms. The winner will be contacted on Friday March 17th, 2017! These contests are not sponsored by Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. микрозаймы и займы онлайн без отказа

#100DaysofVimy – March 15th, 2017

Each Wednesday we will highlight the women of the First World War. Today:

Elsie Holloway

Elsie Holloway’s portrait photograph of her own brother Lieutenant Robert Palfrey (Bert) Holloway, upon enlisting with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in 1915. Elsie’s portraits of the “First Five Hundred” of Newfoundland’s volunteers are held at The Rooms in St. John’s.
Courtesy: The Rooms Provincial Archives Division, E 11-13 / / Holloway Studio.

Elsie Holloway was the daughter of Robert Edwards Holloway, a well-known photographer in Newfoundland & Labrador. Following the death of their father, Elsie and her brother Bert opened their own photography studio in 1908. By the outbreak of war, Holloway Studio had become revered for Elsie’s portrait photography. As volunteers flocked to the recruiting offices, they also came to the Holloway Studio at the corner of Bates Hill and Henry Street, eager to be photographed in their new uniforms.

Elsie’s work in those first months of the war has become an invaluable record of Newfoundland’s “First Five Hundred” – the volunteers who formed the first contingent of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. The majority of the First Five Hundred would not survive the attrition of the Regiment’s war experiences; the Holloway Studio portraits being the sole surviving record of their youth. Even Elsie’s family would not be spared the sorrow, her brother Bert being killed at the Battle of Monchy-le-Preux in 1917.

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#100DaysofVimy – March 14th, 2017

Each Tuesday, we will feature a place in Canada (or international!) with a Vimy Ridge connection. Today we highlight:

Memorial Hall Windows – Kingston’s Historic City Hall

Following the Armistice in 1918, the City of Kingston commissioned Robert McCausland Limited of Toronto to create ten stained glass windows for the City Hall. Sponsored by organizations and individual citizens  of Kingston, the windows commemorate the numerous branches of the city’s war effort and significant Canadian victories. Officially dedicated in 1921, “Memorial Hall” stands as a unique commemoration in Kingston’s Historic City Hall.

“Lens” – Many of Kingston’s Memorial Hall windows were inspired by wartime photographs. The “Lens” window was based on an image from “Queen Mary’s Gift Book”.
Credit: City of Kingston, 2017.
“Vimy” – The “Vimy” window replicates the photograph of Canadian Private Donald Johnston McKinnon, walking back from the front in March 1917.
Credit: City of Kingston, 2017.














Private Donald Johnston McKinnon, No. 7 Platoon, 73rd Battalion, CEF – France, March 1917.
Credit: W.I. Castle / Library and Archives Canada / PA-000867.

#100DaysofVimy – March 12th, 2017

Each Sunday we will share a story of Remembrance. Today:

The Canadian Corps Reunion of 1934

All veterans at the 1934 Canadian Corps Reunion received an arm band and beret based on their unit of service; here is an armband for a member of the Canadian Engineers.
Courtesy: Canadian Centre for the Great War.

The death of Sir Arthur Currie in 1933 served as the final spark that re-ignited the esprit de corps amongst Canada’s veterans. In response to the outpouring of passion and pride, the Canadian Corps Reunion was planned for August 4th – 6th, 1934. In homage to Currie, its motto was a phrase of his “They served till death, why not we?”

Coinciding with the Centenary of the City of Toronto, the reunion was arranged on the Canadian National Exhibition Grounds. In the midst of the Depression, the vets arrived in droves using all manners of transportation; rail, hitch-hiking, overloaded cars, some even walked. In an effort to replicate the life experienced “behind the lines” during rest periods overseas, an entire French village was built on the grounds; complete with town squares, French cafes serving alcohol (“estaminets” to the vets) and even farmyards with manure piles.

Although this program is from the 1938 Canadian Corps Reunion, the scheduled events are near identical to those held in 1934.
Courtesy: Canadian Centre for the Great War.

The life of the reunion centered around these estaminets, with old war songs, pianos, laughter and the clinking of bottles resounding far into the early morning. The vets marched down streets in the French village whose names they recognized: “Plug Street, Whiz Bang Avenue, Ypres Road” (Christie, Roncetti, For Our Old Comrades, 34).

For a week, the men of the Canadian Corps were given free rein of Toronto, whether marching in parades by their thousands, designating themselves impromptu traffic directors, or breaking out a game of Crown & Anchor on the sidewalks. It is estimated that 120,000 veterans attended the Canadian Corps Reunion, with as many as 300,000 people attending the Grand Finale Parade to Riverdale Park. With the Vimy Memorial nearing completion, the reunion closed with the rallying cry “On to Vimy!” (Christie, Roncetti, For Our Old Comrades, 36).

An estimated 300,000 people attended the 1934 Canadian Corps Reunion’s Grand Finale Parade in Toronto’s Riverdale Park, where a cardboard replica of the Vimy Memorial towered above the crowds.
Courtesy: Willa Rivett Family, Private Collection, 2017.
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#100DaysofVimy – March 11th, 2017

Each Saturday, we’ll share a reflection from our past student participants about the impact of their visit to Vimy Ridge and other sites of the First World War.

Visiting the Vimy Memorial in 2014, Beaverbrook Vimy Prize recipient Daniel Mateus found the moment overwhelming:

“Standing in front of the Vimy Memorial, something dedicated to thousands of dead soldiers, I felt overwhelmed with both sadness and pride. Sadness that these Canadians had to lose their lives in the war, but proud that they were so brave, and proud that Canada built such an amazing memorial for them. When I visited Private James Phillips’ grave (the Canadian soldier I had researched before the trip), I was overcome with emotion… I felt honoured that I was one of the few people left in the world that still remembered James and what he had done, and when I placed the Canadian flags I had brought down to his row of graves, I considered how eventually all Canadian soldiers will be remembered, thanks in part to the Vimy Foundation’s Beaverbrook Vimy Prize scholarship. The feelings and experiences that I felt are very difficult to describe, but what the Vimy Foundation is doing by providing this scholarship is changing the lives of Canadian teenagers every year.”

2014 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize recipient Daniel Mateus stands before an expanse of headstones at a Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery.
Credit: The Vimy Foundation, 2014.
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