September 18, 2017. After the tour of the Vimy Memorial Visitors’ Centre and the tunnels, we went to visit the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. Although familiar to us from seeing it on TV, the memorial is much larger and majestic in person.
Site manager Johanne Gagné noted that “this monument is special because it focuses on values the soldiers shared and ultimately gave their lives for.” 11,285 names are inscribed on the memorial, two of them who also are on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion: John Lymon Wood and Patrick Raymond Arsenault. Pieter immediately went to search out these two names.
After finding the inscriptions, Pieter next looked for two plaques brought to the memorial in April by the students of Kinkora Regional High School and teacher Kevin Bustard. Kevin had the plaques made after reading about Wood and Arsenault in an April 2017 article in the County Line Courier. (See CLC Apr 5 2017 p9 Two Unsung Heroes of Vimy Ridge)
To everyone’s surprise, the plaques were still at the Memorial. Arsenault’s was on The Tomb, and Wood’s was by his inscription.
Pieter reunited both plaques with photos of the two soldiers.
While the plaques were left at the Memorial, the photos and information about Wood and Arsenault were given to Johanne Gagné, who told us that “the French are still welcoming and grateful for the sacrifices made by Canadians and say thank you. They are grateful to Canada for keeping the memory alive after 100 years. It’s humbling.”
This was the end of our tour of Vimy Ridge and the Memorial. It had been a special day and we salute Johanne Gagné for the time she spent giving us a wonderful tour and patiently answering our many questions. Merci beaucoup Johanne!
In the next blog entry we explore two of the memorials in the Thélus area. Comments or stories? You can share them by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by commenting on this blog.
© Daria Valkenburg