This Spring, the Embassy of Canada in Washington, D.C. commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge with a gallery exhibit, new art in the renamed “Vimy Room,” a ceremony on the National Mall, and a dinner with partners and allies.
In addition to the carvings, the gallery showed excerpts from a bilingual exhibit, From Vimy to Juno, which includes firsthand accounts of the First World War. Courtesy of the Canadian Military Communications and Electronics Museum, visitors enjoyed an interactive map of Vimy Ridge.
The Embassy’s gallery hosted an exhibit featuring pieces from Souterterrain Impressions, an initiative from CANADIGM – a London, ON based group led by Executive Director Zenon Andrusyszyn. Souterterrain Impressions includes preserved carvings and images created by Canadian soldiers in underground chalk caves in France during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. CANADIGM used advanced photographic and 3D scanning technology to document the carvings without disturbing their original state. In partnership with Western University, CANADIGM also documented the individual stories of the soldiers behind the carvings.
The Vimy Room
Concurrent with the gallery exhibit, a room in the Embassy was renamed the “Vimy Room,” to honour works on loan from the Canadian War Museum and National Gallery of Canada related to the battle. The room features a maquette titled Bereft from Walter S. Allward, the designer of the Vimy memorial in France with the same name. The maquette is often regarded as Mother Canada, as it personifies the young nation of Canada mourning her dead. Works by Alfred Laliberte and Gyrth Russell are also on display.
The Service Ceremony
The Embassy participated in a Dawn Service Ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall and hosted a WWI-themed breakfast the morning of April 7th and a black-tie dinner in the evening. Beginning as the sun rose at exactly 6:15AM, guests gathered around the memorial and representatives from the Canadian Government, the Canadian Armed Forces, Germany, France, UK, and ANZAC Corps laid wreaths. The ceremony also included a Vigil Party, Flag Party and a Bugler. Ambassador McNaughton and RAdm Truelove provided remarks about the battle’s role in Canada’s history.
Commemorating the Battle of Vimy Ridge is an important milestone in celebrating Canada150 this year. Canadians from across the country came together and contributed to the victory for the Allies at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The success of Canada’s involvement throughout the war helped bolster Canada’s international reputation and secured a separate signatory spot on the document that ended World War I, the Treaty of Versailles.