Wednesday, June 29, 2016

World War Wednesdays: Going to the Movies During WWII

Japanese farm labourers in front of the Fox Theater, Glencoe, ca. 1942
Southwestern Ontario Digital Archive
     All the talk last week about seeing My Friend Flicka at the Fox in Glencoe inspired me to look into what things were like in the movie theatres during the Second World War. With some more help from Maridon Duncanson's Heaps of Love, Mum: Stories of the Second World War Years in Dutton, Ontario From the Letters of Elona Bambridge, I was able to find some fascinating information on what it would have been like to go and see a movie during the war, especially around this area.

Dutton Advance, July 4, 1940:
Special Announcement
     On Monday, July 15, the Fox Theatre, Glencoe, like all other theatres in Canada, is turning over all proceeds to the Dominion Government.
     The price of admission is fifty cents- the patrons in return receiving two war savings stamps. When four dollars worth of these are collected they can be turned in to the Government and the sender will receive a five dollar war bond which is redeemable in 7 1/2 years. 
     If you have not yet obtained any war savings stamps to help our country, come to the Fox Theatre on July 15 and let us give you a start- if you are already saving these come and increase your collection.

    The National Film Board began to produce war-related films in 1940. Its series called "Canada Carries On" was made for the education of the public and was distributed to movie theatres across Canada to be shown as "Shorts." Another series it produced had a wider scope. The "World in Action" short films were shown in United States theatres as well.

The National Film Board may have produced some of the other films shown in theatres in Summerside, PEI during the war. Two films presented during Reconsecration Week in September 1941 were titled "The Fight for Victory" and "Over All The World." "Britain on Guard" was shown at the High School in November 1941. In February 1942 three films were shown at the School - "Wings of Youth," Churchill Island" and "Blue Horizons." "Women are Warriors" and "Make It Over" were offered to all interested women in October 1943.

Capitol Theatre, St. Thomas, ca. 1931 courtesy of Elgin County Archives
Wartime Blockbusters

     Featuring popular stars Ingrid Bergman and Fay Wray, the film had mixed reviews but included a hearty dose of wartime drama and romance to help take viewers' minds off their own struggles.

     The well-received drama starring the lovely Maureen O'Hara was eventually nominated for ten Academy Awards and won five, including Best Picture for 1941. 

     An instant commercial success, the First World War drama was nominated for seven Academy Awards and was held over in London movie theatres for a week. 

     Another drama, which dealt with themes of Nazism and underground German resistance, the film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and included popular star Bette Davis in a secondary role because she felt the story was so important.

     Hopefully I've added to your classic movie watch list, and that you have a new appreciation for what it was like to see a movie during the war. Good or bad, all of these films were a major source of both entertainment and conversation during those years. I'm curious to hear what movies readers remember seeing at the Fox and Capitol Theatres themselves!

     Information courtesy of Maridon Duncanson and IMDB, and

Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Seedy Saturdays- BULBS!!


               When purchasing winter hardy bulbs pick the largest fattest specimens, squeezing them to ensure they have not shrunk under their covering. Also ensure they are free form mold and discolouration.  The illustration bellow is a guide only and provides a rough guide for bulb depths. 


                   Water all bulbs after planting. If rainfall throughout the fall is not ample deeply water the bulbs once a week. After blooming in spring, pick the flowers from the plants promptly, but leave the foliage until the leaves turn yellow and are easy to pull off. 

Credit to; Rodney Horticulture Society. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

World War Wednesdays: The Dutton Advance During WWII, Part Two

Main Street of Dutton ca. 1930

     We're back in action with some featured articles from the dearly loved and lost Dutton Advance during the Second World War. As I mentioned last week, it is always of great interest to me to see how the war was brought into the homes and everyday lives of the people of Dutton through their newspaper. It is also interesting to see the advertisements from local businesses who adapted their public messages to serve a wartime purpose. This week's post is especially fascinating for me because it includes an article about the films that were playing in local theaters at the time-- besides all the war-related material, the Advance was also trying to help take people's minds off of their struggles. As mentioned previously, all material in this series comes from Maridon Duncanson's wonderful book, Heaps of Love, Mum: Stories of the Second World War Years in Dutton, Ontario From the Letters of Elona Bambridge, which is available for purchase at Backus-Page House Museum.

January 16, 1941
First Elgins Parade
     The First Battalion Elgin Regiment, C.A.S.F. went to St. Thomas on Sunday when the regimental colors were deposited in the sanctuary of the Memorial Chapel, Trinity Church. The farewell service following the depositing of colors was brief but impressive. The Elgins moved from London to Toronto on Monday and large crowds were on hand to witness the parade in St. Thomas on Sunday.
     Capt. the Rev. K. R. Taylor, padre of the regiment, recited the prayers for King and all in authority, for the Empire, for the sailors, soldiers and airmen, for the regiment.
     Our prayers go with you, our real selves go with you. We not only pray for your safety, but also that you will be true to the cause and the purpose for which you have enlisted. May God's blessing go with you and keep you loyal to Your King and country, to the cause of freedom, justice, and to God.

January 30, 1941
Given Send-Off
     A very pleasant evening was spent at the home of Elder and Mrs. Ruston last Thursday when between thirty and thirty-five of his friends in Dutton met to say good-bye to Sergeant J. B. Ruston, who was home on leave for ten days before leaving for overseas. Dr. Arthur Graham made a capable chairman. During the evening, Miss Margaret Leitch read an appropriate address and Mrs. G. E. Ross presented John with a signet ring attached to a miniature airplane suspended from a staff wrapped in the national colors. In a few well-chosen words Sergeant John fittingly replied.
     A dainty lunch was served by the ladies, after which the gathering closed with a prayer by Elder Ruston. 

May 1, 1941
Evacuating Dutton
     Although we are many miles from the scenes of conflict and the possibilities of local air raids are quite remote, there has been an evacuation in progress here since hostilities overseas began that is proving rather depressing to those left behind. In this case it isn't the women and children or older people who are leaving; it's the young men. Many have joined the armed forces, a large number of high school lads have volunteered to work on farms, while several other young male citizens have left to enter industrial plants turning out war material.
     The most disturbing aspect of this evacuation is the last-mentioned... The possibilities of the return of the young men who have entered industries are not very great. True, they will not always be required to turn out war supplies, but they will likely be needed for the part industry will play in the re-adjustment program which inevitably follows war. 
     No company will settle in a town unless encouraged to do so by the citizens. Dutton is ideally situated for an industrial establishment, being close to two main highways, on two principal railroads, yet in recent years we can't remember any real effort being made to have industries locate here and thus provide some mean of keeping the best of our young people with us.

July 10, 1940
Local Young Men Head Western Class
     Placing first and second, respectively, in the graduating class at No. 4 Service Flying School at Saskatoon, Sask., Donald Graham and Walter W. Nichol have brought honor to themselves, their families, and this community.

November 11, 1943
"My Friend Flicka" At Glencoe
     "My Friend Flicka" is a heartwarming story out of the heart of America itself. Young Ken McLaughlin, a high-strung, sensitive youngster, is not completely understood by his rancher-father, Rob. Rob offers the boy his choice of any horse on the ranch. "Flicka" almost kills herself trying to vault a barbed-wire fence. Ken almost loses his own health in caring for Flicka. At last, tearfully, Ken consents to Rob putting the animal out of its misery. That night Ken finds Flicka seemingly on the verge of death, her body immersed in a cold mountain stream. Overcome, the boy stays with the filly throughout the night. 
     Several weeks later Ken is carried by Rob to the pasture- where hsi unbelieving eyes behold Flicka, completely well.
     Playing at the Fox, Glencoe, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, November 18th, 19th and 20th.
     Hopefully you've seen My Friend Flicka at some point and that last article wasn't a major spoiler alert! It seems as though the write-up was meant to intrigue people into heading to Glencoe to see it for themselves, rather than completely ruin the plot (or at least I hope so). Films were such a major part of wartime life that even the people in our small towns would wait for each new release, but we'll be discussing that topic in a future post! 
     Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Family History Friday - Reunions and Picnics

Summer is almost here and I bet you've started getting invitations to family reunions and picnics.  I hope you attend the ones you get invited to because if not you are missing out on meeting some people who may have the next piece of information you have been searching for to move you ahead in your genealogy research.
Image result for family history

You better be prepared to gather information, so at least bring a pen and paper, or a fully charged smartphone with a note taking app.  Even better would be to bring 3 or 4 questions that you need answered to move forward in your research.  For example where was great grandpa Smith born?  Does anyone know great great aunt Hilda's children's names?  If you have your family tree saved on your laptop or tablet, set up and ask everyone to come over during the reunion and tell you whatever details they can remember for their immediate family.

I have a simple name only generational descendant chart I created in Excel for the Bobier Family Reunion.  I tape the pages onto a folding table each year and ask everyone to look it over and add missing people.  A couple years ago we added an entire branch of the tree because one of the descendants who hadn't attended in years was there and wrote out everything she knew.  We now have 8 generations showing.

Take a handful of old photos.  I suggest taking copies NOT the originals because there's a lot of food and beverages at these things and sure to be a spill.  Ask family to identify anyone you can't.  You'd be surprised how many people you will get names for or at least good guesses.

Gather as many people's contact information as possible.  Emails, Facebook, and phone numbers are great to keep in contact between reunions and exchange old pictures and research.  Remember to have fun and enjoy the food!
Image result for family reunion

Did you know you could hold your family reunion or picnic here at Backus-Page House Museum?  We have a beautiful location with heritage buildings, gardens and grounds.  There's lots of room for kids or kids at heart to play, plus walking trails and museum tours.  Call today 519-762-3072 to schedule your special occasion.                            Angela Bobier, Cultural Manager

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

World War Wednesdays: The Dutton Advance During WWII, Part One

"Downtown Dutton," 1939 courtesy of Elgin County Archives 
     One of my favorite things to do with history, and a lot of times with this blog, is to examine something familiar and local and tie it in with the bigger picture of world events at the time. As I learned during my employment last summer at Elgin County Archives, one of the easiest and most interesting ways to do so is to look at local newspapers. Already, we've seen some letters home from local soldiers which were featured in the Dutton Advance during the First and Second World Wars, but I thought that it might be interesting to take a closer look at how the newspaper itself adapted to wartime demands. With particular regard to the Second World War, I found a great resource for excerpts from wartime editions of the Advance in Maridon Duncanson's Heaps of Love, Mum:Stories of the Second World War Years in Dutton, Ontario From the Letters of Elona Bambridge. This volume is available for purchase at Backus-Page House Museum for those who are interested in further Advance material, or in reading the wonderful story that Ms. Duncanson tells through a selection of its articles. Without further ado, here are some of the newsworthy pieces from wartime Dutton!

April 18, 1940
Read for Relief From War-Strain
     Public libraries can contribute enormously to the "nerve tone" of the civilian population in wartime, Miss Winnifred Kydd, former dean of women at Queen's University, told the Ontario Library Association at its fortieth annual conference. 
     Miss Kydd said reading exerted a steadying influence on nerves subjected to the strain of war. By keeping people informed and expanding their knowledge, she added, it helped to prepare them for the peace to follow.
Local Briefs
     Donald Graham has joined the R.C.A.F.
     Buddy Rogers, his orchestra and show company, will open the dancing season at the Port Stanley ballroom on Friday, May 3rd.

May 30, 1940
Red Cross Society
     An urgent appeal for hospital supplies and refugee clothing has been sent out through the Provincial headquarters of the Society to all branches and in response the local workroom will be open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday afternoons from 2 to 5p.m. and Saturday evenings from 8 to 10. The Canadian Red Cross had made stores, which had already been shipped overseas, available to both British and French Red Cross as well as cabling a large sum of money. The women at home are asked to replenish these supplies and that there will be an immediate response from local workers there is no doubt. Provincial headquarters is asking for surgical towels, rolled bandages, hospital bedgowns, pyjamas, pillow cases, all kinds of refugee clothes and all types of knitting except wristlets and knee caps.
The Dutton Advance
June 6, 1940
Citizens Ready to Receive Refugee Children from Europe
     Dutton and Dunwich residents have shown a commendable degree of cooperation with the rest of Elgin in the campaign to place refugee children from war-torn Europe in homes in this locality.
     Organizations to care for the youngsters being brought to safety from Nazi frightfulness have been set up under the Children's Aid Society of the city and county and there has been a ready response to the appeal for material and shelter. 
     Temporary accommodations are being provided for the children on their arrival in the Y.M.C.A. and the Y.W.C.A. The immediate need is for used or new mattresses, sleeping bags, wool blankets and quilts.
     Records are to be kept of all the refugees, with their photographs, when they arrive, in order that full details may be available in the event of parents being alive and later seeking their little ones. There is a possibility that numbers of the children have been separated from their parents during the evacuation of Belgium and Holland. Efforts will be made to get the history of each child, its age, what town or village it is from and also the names of parents and brothers and sisters.

August 22, 1940
D. M. Treadgold, Louis Burns, John Bambridge and Harold Haines are in camp at London with the second Elgin battalion.

October 31, 1940
John Ruston Awarded Trophy for Most Proficient Air Observer Student
     The Edmonton Journal of October 24th contains a report of the first graduation from Edmonton's No. 2 Air Observer school of which John B, Ruston, of Dutton, was a member. Mr. Ruston was awarded a trophy as the most proficient air observer student. The Journal's report of the graduation in part follows:
     "First graduation class from Edmonton's No. 2 Air Observer school, a group of keen, hard working young men who know their way around the skies, was congratulated by Hon. J. C. Bowen, lieutenant governor at the training grounds Thursday... He had special words of praise for Leading Aircraftman J. B. Ruston of Dutton, most proficient student."
     From Edmonton the graduates go to a bombing and gunnery school for a six-weeek course and from there to an advanced school for a four-week course in celestial navigation. The course totals 26 weeks. 

     I hope you all enjoyed the first edition of this feature, and will be looking forward to future posts with this theme. As always, I'd love to hear any anecdotes or connections to he names featured in this week's material!
     Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Family History Friday: WWI Service Flag at Backus-Page House Museum

Cultural Manager Angela Bobier with Elgin County Museum curator Mike Baker
    This past Wednesday, a replica First World War service flag was unveiled at the museum as part of the upcoming centennial celebration of the 91st Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force. Another is being displayed at the St. Thomas Armouries on Wilson Ave., which is to be the site of the weekend-long commemoration events later this month.

     During the war, families would display the flag in their front window to indicate that they had a loved one fighting overseas. While the practice was more popular in the United States, the Canadian version still became a known symbol on the home front. As a 1918 Maclean's magazine ad reads, "Make sure to secure the duly registered design: red border-- white field-- blue maple leaves-- red leaves for the fallen."

     Elgin County Museum curator and commemoration committee member Mike Baker is hoping the community will participate in the centennial by displaying their own service flags in support and solidarity. A printed insert of the iconic symbol can be found in the June 8 special 91st Battalion edition of the St. Thomas Times-Journal. 

     To find out if you live in the home of a 91st Battalion volunteer, you can check your address in the Nominal Roll of the 91st found at by looking for the column headed "address of next-of-kin". Also at is the Elgin County Book of Remembrance, which contains the names of all WWI servicemen and women from the county.

     Baker and the rest of the organisers, including committee chair Hon. Lt.-Col. Mark Sargent, are anticipating hundreds of people will descend on St. Thomas to take in the monumental two-day event. On Saturday June 25, members of The Elgins will parade from city hall to the CASO station, where a commemorative plaque will be unveiled to honour the 91st Battalion. There will also be a picnic at Pinafore Park and historic re-enactments taking place at the armouries.  
Each evening, the individual names and photos of each member of the 91st Battalion will be projected on the north wall of the historic building.

If you go...
91st Battalion 100th Anniversary

When: Friday June 24 to Sunday June 26
Where: Various St. Thomas locations
Highlights: Parade, historic re-enactments and community picnic
     Be sure to stop in at the Museum to see our flag, as well as the special First World War commemorative content featured at our upcoming July Living History Event.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

World War Wednesdays: The Elgin County Men of D-Day

     As I'm sure you've likely been aware, this past Monday, June 6 marked 72 years since the Allied D-Day  landings during the Second World War. Some of the dedicated followers over the almost two years of this blog will know that this anniversary has brought different means of reflection every year for me (check out one of my very first posts from back when I was just a guest blogger here: This year, I can't help but think about a gentleman I met during my periodic stays last year at Library and Archives Canada. I always seemed to be there when a certain older security guard was on duty, and if you've ever been to LAC you'll know how involved the security team is in the research process! During our frequent chats he'd always impart some wisdom or funny story, but one thing he always said has stuck with me most of all. He'd often ask about what I was looking for that day and what I was studying at school, and whenever I mentioned my interest in the Second World War he'd always respond with, "my dad did D-Day". For some reason, I always think about how proud he looked when he said it, and what an incredible thing it must be to have such a personal connection to this event. It makes me think about just how many people there are who can say with the same pride that someone they loved was part of something so absolutely terrifying, dramatic, and significant, and got me wondering about some other ties to that momentous day in history. For this year's post, I decided to explore the involvement of some hometown heroes, as well as to do a bit of bragging myself about some of the men who helped "do" D-Day.

     The above photo shows Corporal Albert Cook of Crinan ca. 1939. A son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Cook, he enlisted in September 1939 with the First Hussars, 6th Regiment. Cpl. Cook took part in the D-Day operations, during which he was wounded, but ultimately served for all six years of the Second World War. (Photo and information courtesy of the Crinan Women's Institute Tweedsmuir History, Vol. 1).

     This ca. 1942 photo shows Able Seaman Robert A, McAlpine, also of Crinan. The son of Mr. and Mrs. M. A. McAlpine, he had enlisted as a member of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve at Hamilton on October 15, 1924. He later went on to participate in the D-Day operations. (Photo and information courtesy of the Crinan Women's Institute Tweedsmuir History, Vol. 1).

     This ca. 1943 photo shows Gunner Donald Foster of Kingsmill-Mapleton, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Bert Foster and husband of Norma Light. Donald enlisted and served as a wireless operator, and on September 1, 1943, he was among the 19,000 soldiers to board the Queen Mary for England. He served in the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division at Normandy on D-Day, and remained in action with the 12th Field Regiment until VJ Day. Following that, he was in hospital for two months, but after the war's end he returned to the Kingsmill community where he and his wife farmed. (Photo and information courtesy of the Kingsmill-Mapleton Women's Institute Tweedsmuir History, Vol. 1). 
Karl Kristoff
Frederick Howard Davis
     The two men pictured above, Karl Kristoff of St. Thomas and former St. Thomas Fire Chief Frederick Howard Davis, also were veterans of D-Day. A St. Thomas Times-Journal article from July 10, 1969 describes a showing of the D-Day film The Longest Day at the Capitol Theatre in St. Thomas, at which both Karl Kristoff and Fred Davis discussed their experiences during the intermission. The Elgin Regiment band members and their wives were also guests at the showing. 

     Finally, to end on a bit of a lighter note, I thought I'd share a little excerpt from the St. Thomas Times-Journal in 1946, as shared earlier this week by the Elgin Military Museum:
Boys in “C” Squadron Hit
the Dirt Fast When Bombing
Started on Normandy Beach
By Major F.O. Lewis, M.B.E.,
Commanding “C” Squadron, Elgin Regiment
Just prior to the invasion, “C” Squadron of the Elgins was stationed at Gosport on the southern coast of England. The men had been warned of air raids and told to dig slit trenches, as learned in previous training. But they had not done so. The second night the squadron was there, the German Air Force carried out a heavy raid on Portsmouth and Gosport and several bombs were dropped nearby. Don McLachlin, Charlie Raven and I went to get into our slit trench but found it was already occupied. The next morning there was dirt flying in all directions as the men dug deep into old Mother Earth.
When we landed in Normandy it was funny to see big fellows like Bill Taylor, Squadron Quartermaster George Martyn, Machinist-Sergeant Jim Chapman; the Corporal cook, Bill Couse; the Squadron Clerk, Corporal George Gilbert; the Glaab brothers, tank electricians; Jim Wilson, a mechanic, and Corporal Norm Darnforth hit the ground running with a shovel, even before the trucks stopped when we pulled into our camp area. Bill Taylor said he never would pay 50 cents to see fireworks again.
     Thanks so much for taking the time to read about some of our local D-Day participants, and I welcome any further contributions of D-Day veterans for next year!
     Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Friday, June 3, 2016

Family History Friday: Poorhouse Cemetery, Simcoe Dedication

                                                Poorhouse Cemetery Dedication

A Dedication Service is scheduled for the Poorhouse Cemetery in Simcoe this Sunday (June 5th) at 2:00 p.m.
Located on County property northeast of the Norfolk County Court House, this site is the final resting place of many Norfolk County residents who resided at the Farm, more commonly known as the Poorhouse/County Home.
The Cemetery was designated as a Norfolk County Heritage site in 2007. It is also recognized as an official cemetery within Norfolk County
Reverend Paul Sherwood of Trinity Anglican Church will officiate. Mary Caughill, Chair of the Norfolk Heritage Committee, and Bill Terry, a member of the former Norfolk Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, will also participate in the service which will be emceed by Norfolk Councillor Peter Black. 

Ms. Caughill notes that the Heritage Committee began to plan the event some time ago. Last year a Storyboard had been installed beside 28 memorial markers that had been dug out of a wooded area and laid flat in a cement pad in the early 1970’s.
Bill Terry has unearthed a newspaper article from 1968 that appeared in the Port Dover Maple Leaf on the 100 anniversary of the home.  The article quotes from the records of Monroe Landon (1859).  The final two paragraphs offer a fitting reference point for the dedication event.
“It is the county’s intention to plant trees again on the flats and no doubt that area will eventually become part of a park system. It would seem of future historic interest to preserve and mark the site of the old house, the first cabin, the spring, the sugar maple still standing that the boy Landon planted in the southeast corner of the barn yard about 1840 and most important the old cemetery near the northeast boundary. Some of the old split cedar fence rails that were produced on the place may still be found along this cemetery. 
The old cemetery was cleaned up this winter by the reforestation crew, under Mr. Cecil Pettinger, and is deeply appreciated by all those who have noticed the improvement. We hope to plant it to ground covers and bulks.”
The public is welcome to Sunday’s event which will take place rain or shine.  Parking is available at the courthouse and along the roadway.  Attendees will be required to walk to the site.

Melissa Collver
Manager, Heritage & Culture
Norfolk County

Ph: 519-426-5870 ext. 1347
Fax: 519-427-5901

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

World War Wednesdays: Haunting Beauty: The Canadian Vimy Ridge Memorial and Adolf Hitler

     I've been thinking a lot lately about a story I heard a few months ago at the Canadian War Museum, and thought I'd look into it this week for a post.

     Considered among the greatest war memorials ever built, the Canadian monument at Vimy Ridge in northeast France has as dramatic a history as the infamous battle it honors. Following the end of the First World War in 1918, the high escarpment at Vimy Ridge was left with ruined trees, artillery craters, and crumbling trenches which still held the remains of some of the 3,598 Canadians who died trying to capture it over four days in April 1917.
Canadians during the Battle of Vimy Ridge
     The Ridge then became one of eight battle sites in France and Belgium where Canada sought and received permission to construct memorials to in remembrance of its 66,000 fallen soldiers in the Great War. While Great Britain, South Africa, and Australia hired the same group of Commonwealth architects to design their battlefield monuments in Europe, Canada chose a different method: Ottawa announced a nationwide competition for the design of its Vimy Ridge memorial, and an undisputed winner was chosen in 1921. The daring proposal was put forward by renowned Toronto sculptor Walter Allward, whose classic South African memorial (which still stands on University Ave. in Toronto) greatly differed from the breathtaking monument he envisioned for Vimy.
     Allward said the idea for the monument was inspired by a dream he'd had during the "blackest" days of the war in which Canadian soldiers were saved by their dead comrades, who rose up in the thousands to rescue the living. The massive twin pylons symbolize both Canada and France, which tower thirty meters over a stone platform, adorned with sculpted figures symbolizing peace, mourning, and sacrifice. It took a total of twelve years to complete, all of which were supervised by Allward himself, and constructed with stone from a Croatian quarry that had also been used by the Romans in the third century. After years of public anticipation, thousands of Canadians traveled across the Atlantic by ship to attend the monument's dedication ceremony, featuring a speech by King Edward VIII. The site instantly became a popular symbol of Canada's achievements during the battle as well as a major tourist attraction.
Aerial shot of the 1936 dedication ceremony, courtesy of flickr
     However, only three years later, Europe found itself again at the threshold of another war. To calm fears about the memorial's fate as France fell under Nazi occupation, Allward revealed that he had always known the area around Vimy could once again become a battleground. "So we carved the figures of stone instead of casting them in bronze," he said at the time. "Bronze figures might be melted down for munitions". By June 1940, Canadian newspapers had begun trumpeting dramatic accounts of the monument's destruction in order to encourage public favor against the Nazis, as can be seen with the Montreal Daily Star's headline: "Vimy Memorial Smashed by Nazi Bombers," which left Canadians appalled and outraged.
     In response to these false allegations, Hitler decided to visit the Vimy Memorial himself as part of his first trip to France since the start of the war in order to prove that the statues were still intact. German newspapers published a series of photos of him and a group of Nazi officers among the white pylons and nearby trenches. As University of Ottawa historian and a great friend of mine, Dr. Serge Durflinger says, "Hitler admires it immensely. he says so at the time. As a result, the Germans respect the memorial all through the war." Regardless, Canadians were not fully convinced of the memorial's survival until after the area was recaptured by the Allies in 1944 and it was reported to be free of damage. The site remains to this day a symbol of strength and humble sacrifice, with its lack of victorious boastfulness being perhaps one of its greatest and most enduring contributing factors.

Information courtesy of Canwest News Service, 2007.

Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)