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A living piece of Vimy Ridge

A tree planting ceremony of a “Vimy Oak” was held at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Amherst on Thursday, Aug. 10, with local veterans (from left) Russell Clarke, Art Holland and Art Smith manning the ceremonial shovels, with assistance from air cadet Cpl. Samuel Clarke.
A tree planting ceremony of a “Vimy Oak” was held at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Amherst on Thursday, Aug. 10, with local veterans (from left) Russell Clarke, Art Holland and Art Smith manning the ceremonial shovels, with assistance from air cadet Cpl. Samuel Clarke.

AMHERST, N.S. – The Battle of Vimy Ridge was one of Canada’s defining moments as a nation, and now a part of its legacy lives and breathes in Amherst.

A special ceremony took place at the town’s Veteran’s Memorial Park, where a “Vimy Oak” sapling was planted and celebrated by a group of veterans, legion members and townspeople.

“The message always with Vimy Ridge is bravery and sacrifice,” said Amherst deputy mayor Sheila Christie. “The Battle of Vimy Ridge is 100 years old this year and it’s very special that we take time out of our daily lives to remember everyone who has gone past before us.”

Christie’s great-uncle was one of more than 10,000 Canadian soldiers to pay the supreme sacrifice at Vimy Ridge between April 9-12, 1917, eventually capturing the ridge where our allied troops had struggled and failed.

Another one of those soldiers, Lt. Leslie Miller of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, gathered a handful of acorns from a partially buried English oak tree on the battlefield, and sent them home to his family in Scarborough, Ont. with instructions to replant them on the family farm.

“He named that farm Vimy Oaks, and today a number of these majestic oaks are thriving,” said Wayne Dupuis of the Amherst branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Six mighty oak trees now stand at his family farm, known as “Vimy Oaks,” and acorns have been gathered from those trees and sent to Vimy in France to be part of this year’s April 9 centennial celebration. Other saplings are being sent across through the Vimy Oaks Legacy Corporation, an entity formed to create living memorials at Vimy and across Canada.

After speeches from Christie and Cumberland North MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, a ceremonial planting ceremony of the sapling was conducted by local veterans Russell Clarke, Art Holland, and Art Smith.

“Thank you to the legion and veterans of our community for making this effort and bringing this very special tree to help us remember the sacrifice those men and women made at Vimy Ridge,” said Smith-McCrossin. “This will help us to never forget.”

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