Vimy Oak planted in memory of milestone celebration
June 19th, 2017
In April, more than 60 Waterloo Region District School Board students and staff made the trip to France to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. To commemorate the anniversary and trip, Grand River Collegiate Institute staff and students decided to plant a Vimy Oak sapling at the front entrance of the school.
“Planting a Vimy Oak is a great way to commemorate the soldiers who gave their lives to provide the freedom we experience today, along with the students who went on the trip to mark the 100th anniversary,” said Lisa Hicknell, history teacher at Grand River.
There is a story to the significance of Vimy Oaks.
After the Battle of Vimy Ridge had finished, Lieutenant Leslie H. Miller, a soldier with the Canadian Expeditionary Force from 1914 to 1919, sent acorns home to Canada that he had gathered up on the battlegrounds.
The intense battle in France wiped out all but one native oak known to survive in the area today. The acorns sent home by Lieutenant Miller, where he planted them on his farm in Scarborough, have allowed descendants of these symbolic trees to be shared with all Canadians and eventual create a memorial on the former battlegrounds in Vimy Ridge.
The trip was important on many levels for Grand River students. “The opportunity for thousands of students to come together from around Canada, in another country to celebrate a milestone, created for an emotional atmosphere,” said Emily Brown, Grade 11 student at GRCI. “As a history lesson, if we don’t learn from the past — we’re doomed to do it again.”
Vimy Oak saplings can be purchased through The Vimy Ridge Corporation, which is a not-for-profit, made up of volunteers promoting the memory and legacy of Canadians who fought in the First World War through the planting of Vimy Oak saplings.