The Battle of Vimy Ridge in northern France, April 9-12, 1917, is considered one of the defining events in the history of Canada. Where Allied troops struggled and failed, the Canadians overcame great odds and eventually captured the ridge.
In the course of the battle, nearly every tree in the once-forested area had been destroyed. After the battle, a Canadian soldier, Lieutenant Leslie Miller of Scarborough, Ont., gathered acorns from an oak tree on the ridge and sent them home to Canada to be planted on his Scarborough farm, which he later named The Vimy Oaks. Today, 10 of these trees exist on the woodlot now owned by the Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church.
A volunteer non-profit group, the Vimy Oaks Legacy Corporation, with the church’s permission, has partnered with the Vimy Foundation to repatriate to France over 100 saplings that are direct descendants of the Vimy Oaks in Scarborough. They will be planted in the Vimy Foundation Centennial Park, adjacent to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial site, as part of centennial commemorations in France in 2017.
Vimy Oak saplings are being grown by NVK Nurseries in Dundas, Ont., and surplus trees will be available for sale early this year. Royal Canadian Legion branches and other qualifying organizations may purchase a tree for $125 to recover nursery and administrative costs, plus freight to the destination in Canada. The administrative costs will help cover the cost of planting trees in France. HST will apply to the total cost.
Interested branches may request an application for a Vimy Oak sapling and forward their completed application by e-mail to Robert Domoney at VimyOaksCanada@rogers.com.
Applications will be assessed based on the suitability of the proposed site for survival of the tree and on assurance of its ongoing care. Saplings approved for planting will be shipped from Dundas to successful applicants by NVK Nurseries with instructions for planting and maintenance. A certificate of authenticity will accompany each sapling.
Construction of the Vimy Foundation Centennial Park is being funded through donations. Each tree planted in France can be purchased by the public for $10,000 and the donor’s name will appear on the Centennial Park plaque. More information may be found at www.vimyfoundation.ca/donate