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Canadian Victory at Vimy!

For the week of Monday April 13, 1998

As the First World War assault on Vimy Ridge drew to a close on April 14, 1917, it was obvious that the Canadian troops had acheived a magnificent victory!

Vimy Ridge Memorial

Vimy Ridge Memorial
© Parks Canada

The war had begun three years earlier, as a result of many smaller conflicts and tensions between European countries. When Britain joined with France and Russia in declaring war against the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires in 1914, Canada (as part of the British Empire) was also at war. Canadian troops were quickly sent to fight in Europe. The assault on Vimy Ridge was part of the larger Battle of Arras, and was a key turning point for the allied forces in the First World War. It is also considered a 'coming of age' for the Canadian military, because it was the first time the four divisions of the Canadian Corps, made up of men from every part of Canada, fought as a unit.

Earlier in the war, French and British assaults failed to take control of Vimy Ridge. This long, low ridge in northern France was an important position because it linked two parts of the German front lines which the British and French wanted to separate. In the spring of 1917 the job was given to the Canadian Corps. After five days, the Canadians had captured a lot of ground. They gained more ground, guns, and prisoners than any previous British attack had done. The Canadians were very proud of their success! Unfortunately, this great achievement had a price: 3598 Canadian soldiers died and 7004 were wounded.

Next of Kin Memorial Avenue, Saskatoon

Next of Kin Memorial Avenue, Saskatoon
© Parks Canada

Vimy Ridge was later chosen as the site of Canada's National Memorial in Europe. The physical evidence of the battlefield has been preserved, and a monument to the Canadian dead now rises from the highest point on Vimy Ridge, dominating the surrounding countryside. The names of the 11,285 Canadian soldiers who lost their lives in the war and who have no known grave site, are inscribed on the monument. The battlefield and monument commemorate both Canada's role in the First World War and the valour of all Canadians who fought in the conflict. Canadians who lost their lives in the First World War have also been honoured in their own communities across Canada by numerous local war memorials and even tree-lined "Roads of Remembrance," such as Saskatoon's Next of Kin Memorial Avenue.

In 1997, the Battlefield and National Memorial at Vimy Ridge was designated a National Historic Site, as a further reminder of the importance of the sacrifice and contribution made by Canadians in the First World War. Next of Kin Memorial Avenue, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is also designated a national historic site.

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