Vimy Ridge National Historic Site of Canada
© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, Sonya Oko, 2007.
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1925 to 1936
1917 to 1917
1917 to 1917
Event, Person, Organization:
World War I (event)
Battle of Vimy Ridge
Lieutenant-General Sir Julian Byng
The Canadian Corps
Moroccan Division of the French Army
Walter S. Allward
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Research Report Number:
Existing plaque: Vimy
For Canadians the taking of Vimy Ridge stands as a great feat of arms, an exceptional example of courage and sacrifice, and an important milestone in the development of their nation. Vimy has also become a place of remembrance dedicated to those soldiers who died in France and who have no known grave.
After two unsuccessful Allied attempts to dislodge the Germans from this heavily fortified height, the four Canadian divisions, fighting together for the first time, seized the ridge on 12 April 1917 after four days of intense fighting. Meticulous preparation, the use of advanced technology, teamwork, and the sacrifice of thousands of Canadian lives produced this remarkable result. It was an important turning point for Canada in the war.
A site of victory but also of death, Vimy is a place of remembrance marked by the towering work of Canadian sculptor Walter S. Allward. His distinctively modernistic design poses grieving figures against two pylons of limestone quarried at Trau. Inscribed on the monument are the names and ranks of the 11,285 missing Canadians who died in France during the Great War. This memorial park, the legacy of an agreement between France and Canada, honours those soldiers and ensures that their sacrifice will never be forgotten.
Description of Historic Place
The Vimy Ridge National Historic Site of Canada is situated on a height of land in northern France, approximately 14 kilometers north of the city of Arras. The site consists of several components, including the monument, two Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries, reconstructed trenches, the Grange tunnel, and a house. These features are all pulled together by a simple landscape plan of a pine tree forest, allées, maple trees, and connecting paths and roads. The monument is the dominant feature of the landscape, visible from miles around. Official recognition is defined by the 248-acre (117 ha) site which was granted by France to Canada for use in perpetuity as a memorial to the soldiers of the First World War.
Vimy Ridge was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1996 for the following reasons: Canada's accomplishment, contribution and sacrifice in the First World War are themselves of major national significance; the War itself was a landmark in the development of Canada as a nation; Vimy is the site of a great Canadian victory in the First World War; it memorializes Canadians lost in the conflict who have no known grave, and is a place of remembrance marked by the towering work of Canadian sculptor Walter S. Allward.
Vimy Ridge is Canada’s principal memorial in Europe to the country’s contribution and sacrifice in the First World War. Vimy Ridge is the site of a great Canadian military victory in the First World War. The landscape is marked by traces of the battle and vestiges of former trenches, saps and tunnels of the Canadian and German forces. The central feature of the Vimy site is the towering stone monument commissioned by the Canadian government to honour its soldiers who served in the First World War. The monument was erected between 1925 and 1936. On it are carved the names of the 11,285 missing Canadian soldiers who died in France during the conflict. The site was granted to Canada by France in 1922 in perpetuity for use as a memorial park.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, November 1996; Commemorative Integrity Statement, October 2005.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include: the topography of Vimy Ridge, which provides the historic and geographic context for the national historic site of Canada; the traces of the battlefield across the site, including the craters, dugouts, trenches (both untouched and rebuilt), and shell holes, the remnants of German strong points (e.g. machine gun emplacements, pill boxes, dugouts), the Grange Subway system and related features (e.g. saps, listening posts, rooms, and the network of other known tunnels both Allied and German), and the location of the unexploded ordnance underground; the unobstructed viewplanes to the north and south which contribute to an understanding of the battle, and the views from the plains below towards the Ridge and monument; the prominent siting of the Vimy monument on Hill 145; the Givenchy Road Cemetery and the Canadian Cemetery No. 2; the relationship to the Moroccan Monument (erected 1919-25 outside the designated place but within sight of the Vimy monument) that commemorates the men of the Moroccan Division of the French Army which attempted to take the ridge in May 1915. the design of the monument, its volume, mass, its component parts of platform, pylons, sculptures, materials, and engraved names, the use of Seget stone, which gives the monument its uniform colour; the existence and location of other memorials on the site; the overall layout of the battlefield memorial park, with its existing open spaces, circulation routes, pathways, and forested areas; the evidence of stabilisation work to the battlefield done as part of the conversion of the site to a memorial park in the 1920s and 30s; the post-war forestation program, such as the location and species of trees, specifically Scotch and Austrian pines; the presence of the maple trees that line the main route; the administration office, formerly Allward’s house, its the exterior design, scale, massing and materials of the building and its siting near the monument.