Place Vimy unveiled by Hudson Branch

February 6, 2018 by Stephanie Slegtenhorst
Second World War veterans (from left) Norman St. Aubin, Peter Stephenson and Maxine Bredt, accompanied by piper Graham Batty, were among the special guests at the ceremony.
Bill Louch

Hudson, Que., Branch commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge by unveiling its newly renovated cenotaph and surrounding park, now named Place Vimy. 

The only one of its kind in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region, the cenotaph commemorates those who have served from the 23 municipalities in the Boer War, First World War, Second World War, Korean War, on peacekeeping missions, with the Merchant Navy, in the Gulf War and in Afghanistan.

The original cenotaph, erected in 1981, had fallen into a state of disrepair, overgrown with bushes and trees. “Every time we had a Remembrance Day [ceremony], we had to cut branches back,” said Hudson Branch Second Vice Rod Hodgson. “It was just looking awful.”

The renovations were first proposed by First Vice Michael Elliott. With the help of a grant from the Community War Memorial program at Veterans Affairs Canada and donations from members of the community, the renovations began in the fall of 2016.

The updated cenotaph includes three new bronze plaques. “We didn’t have anything for Afghanistan, the Boer War and Korea,” said Hodgson, “so we ordered three new plaques…and they’re just beautiful.”

The rededicated cenotaph in Hudson, Que., is unveiled.
Bill Louch

The new plaques, which accompany the two existing plaques honouring the 48 soldiers from the region who fell during the world wars, will also commemorate those who served in the Merchant Navy, in peacekeeping missions and in the Gulf War.

One of the most poignant additions to the park are the 19 iron posts lined around the cenotaph, sponsored by those in the community. “Every little post around the cenotaph has an inscription on it, in memory of somebody,” said Hodgson. A new Place Vimy sign has also been erected at a central location in the cenotaph gardens.

The Aug. 13 ceremony began with an impromptu parade. “We didn’t plan a march…and at the last second we had some serving soldiers, some naval cadets, and we had our veterans,” said Hodgson. “I asked, if anybody wants to march, please do. We had about 45 people marching.” The dedication ceremony included the placing of the wreaths by local, provincial and federal dignitaries, playing of “Last Post” and the unveiling of the new Place Vimy sign. Three veterans of the Second World War, representing the army, navy and air force, also attended the ceremony.

A Vimy oak was planted at Hudson Branch on Sept. 28, with Vaudreuil-Soulanges MP Peter Schiefke attending. Two pairs of boots from the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge commemoration in France were also donated to the branch by a veteran member who attended the ceremony, and by VAC. The boots are now on display at the branch.

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