Canada commemorates the centenary of the Vimy WWI battle

"Today, as people on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean gather to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, there will be hard memories of loss and of suffering, but also memories of many heroic acts of bravery and of sacrifice on the part of those who served". Prince Harry and Prince William placed the final pair of boots on a war memorial, and they all walked in the trenches the soldiers used during the war.

"In this sense, Canada was born there", Trudeau said.

Last week memorial benches to honour the battle of Vimy Ridge were unveiled at the Alliston, Beeton and Tottenham Legion branches. Almost 3600 Canadian soldiers died over the four brutal days of the battle, and over 7000 were wounded.

From the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles, 47 soldiers were killed and 151 wounded in the assault. Yet Canadians displayed a strength of character and commitment to one another that is still evident today.

Among them are members of Liberation Tours, based in Georgina, who took in the moving and stark image of rows upon row of empty boots placed on the Vimy memorial to represent the almost 3,600 who died in what is considered a seminal moment in Canadian history. "So for the battle of Vimy Ridge, we say on behalf of all Canadians, thank you, you will not be forgotten".

Before the prime minister spoke, Gov. Gen. David Johnston told the crowd that the Vimy monument symbolizes the enduring friendship between Canada and France, underscored by the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who helped liberate the country.

The government of Canada hosted today's sombre ceremony of official speeches and performances by Canadian artistes such as singer Loreena McKennitt. On this day, they were more than mere tools of the Empire - they were professionals who, through innovation, daring and dedicated preparation, managed to solve one of the most stubborn riddles of a hellish conflict. Largely because of its military achievement in northern France, the North American country was a separate signatory to the treaty that ended World War I.

On April 9, 1917, the Canadians succeeded in taking the German's strategic post on Vimy Ridge - where past British and French attempts had failed.

During a ceremony in the city centre earlier in the day, Arras Mayor Frederic Leturque thanked Australia, Britain, New Zealand and South Africa for having fought during that larger battle.

  • Ernesto Newman