The Battle of Vimy Ridge took place between April 9 to12, 1917, and was a defining moment for Canada and the Canadian troops who, for the first time, fought under Canadian officers. The battle raged on through night and day and at the conclusion, the Canadian Corps were in firm control of the ridge, but paid a heavy cost with more than 10,000 casualties.
The Vimy Oak story began 100 years ago after the Battle for Vimy Ridge. At that time, one of the officers, Lt. Leslie H. Miller, picked up some acorns from under an oak tree that had remained standing after the battle. He sent those acorns home to Ontario with the request that they be planted on his farm.
These acorns are now large, majestic oaks that are growing on his former farm. Fast forward and Miller’s farm land is now home of the Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church in Ontario. Ten of the original oaks soar into the sky today and the Bridgewater Royal Canadian Legion Branch 24 has recently purchased one of the oak saplings and ceremoniously planted the piece of history at the Veteran’s Memorial Park in Bridgewater on Sept. 29.
Although one of the oak saplings will now call Bridgewater home, some of the descendants of these great, symbolic trees are to be repatriated to Vimy Ridge. The Vimy Oaks Legacy Corporation has partnered with The Vimy Foundation to repatriate descendants of these oaks back to Vimy Ridge, 100 years later, to promote the memory and legacy of Canadians who fought in the First World War.
This project, named The Vimy Foundation Centennial Park, will be a landscaped planting event of 100 Vimy Oak trees on land beside the Canadian National Vimy Memorial Historic Site to create a living memorial to honour the memory of all those who fought, connecting modern Canada and modern France and reaffirming our comradeship with France and the people.
Initially, the idea to send the oaks to the Vimy Memorial met with agriculture barriers, but this has since been resolved so the trees will finally be going back home.
These oak saplings have been offered for sale to organizations that are committed to planting them at commemorative sites such as cenotaphs, town squares, memorial sites and parks, heritage sites, schools, military cemeteries, Royal Canadian Legions and public locations associated with the First World War.