Vimy Pilgrimage Award Blog – 3 April 2018

Follow our 2018 Vimy Pilgrimage Award recipients as they blog about their First World War educational experience! Today they arrived in Brussels and spent the afternoon in Ypres. The students visited the In Flanders Fields Museum, located in the Cloth Hall and climbed the 231 steps of the Cloth Tower to see the magnificent views across the Ypres region. (Please note: participants will blog in their mother tongue.)

The tolling bells evoked the same emotions in me as they did over one hundred years ago for the residents of Ypres. These bells comprise the Cloth Tower whose bells ring out multiple times an hour. The citizens were subjected to the same sequence of bells, that not too long before the war, signified a funeral.

The system suddenly sprang to life with a deafening clanging, forcing those of us standing directly next to it into a sort of stupor. This short loss of self-awareness was followed by a greater comprehension of how the war impacted those whose homes lay on the front lines. The church’s current bells date from the 1930s; the originals were destroyed by German shelling during the war. This brought to light how devastating the four-year stalemate at Ypres was on the lives of those who lived there.

-Markus Deans, Windsor ON


Today we went to the In Flanders Fields Museum. One of the exhibits was a film of actors pretending to be doctors and nurses from at the front lines of the FWW telling their side of the story. One thing that they said that struck me because I had never seen it that way before was that they said it is just as harmful for the watchers as for the dying. I think we often focus on the horrible effects of the war especially focusing on casualties of soldiers, but there was a major impact on those assisting on the battlefields as well. The actor playing a doctor was telling how he would be performing surgeries from six in the morning till two the next morning, have a short break for sleep, then keep going. The things that they saw permanently changed them. We need to remember all the heroes of the FWW, including the ones behind the scenes. I am so thankful for the opportunity to gain a totally new perspective on various aspects of the FWW, and am sure this will be a regular occurrence every day during the program.

-Bethany Lengkeek, Surrey BC


Ma première journée avec ce programme été très enrichissante et m’a beaucoup éduquée. Nous sommes arrivés en Belgique, nous étions tous très fatigués, mais j’avais quand même vraiment hâte. La première activité qui nous avons fait, et je m’en souviendrai toujours, c’est quand nous avons marchés vers la Cloth Tower. On nous avait dit que tous les monuments qui entouraient cette merveille avaient été détruits lors de la Première Guerre Mondiale, pourtant, je ne voyais aucune maison endommagée, c’est comme s’ils avaient reconstruit la ville comme elle l’était avant.

En marchant, j’ai pensé au fait que nous (les différents pays qui ont participés à la guerre) avons tous vécus les horreurs de la guerre de différentes manières. Au Canada, on n’avait pas peur de perdre nos terres, nos fermes, on ne faisait qu’envoyer les soldats dans d’autres pays… Ici, en Belgique, ils ont tous perdus, incluant leurs maisons, leur chez-soi. Pourtant, une décennie plus tard et à travers tous ces difficultés, la ville est tout de même vibrante et belle. Une brique à la fois, ils ont tous reconstruit. Aujourd’hui, j’ai surtout pensé à la force des citoyens de villes qui « vivent » réellement la guerre et qui la voient au quotidien.

-Laurissa Brousseau, Canmore AB заём