Gravenhurst legion commemorates 100th anniversary of Vimy victory on Sunday
Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAILY.com
GRAVENHURST – The 100th anniversary of Canada’s Vimy victory was marked here Sunday morning as the nation commemorated in France and across the country.
Gravenhurst Royal Canadian Legion members and the public joined President Ted Hudson, Rev. Mike Barnes and just under 100 people on a sunny day.
Led by the Branch #302 colour guard, legionairres and Gravenhurst Fire Department members the parade and ceremony was short but poignant, as Hudson and Barnes offered details and personal comments on the 1917 First World War taking of a key German position in France in the first time all four Canadian divisions fought together.
Hudson gave an account of the 1917 victory that shaped Canada as independent. He said the attack was originally scheduled for Easter Sunday, but the French asked that it be delayed a day.
Canada lost 3,600 men in the battle for Hill 70, and suffered some 7,000 injuries.
Barnes, a retired British regular forces officer and padre to the Bracebridge legion, was filling in for Gravenhurst padre Rev. Jim Sitler.
He said: “If you ever get a chance to go to Vimy, don’t miss it.”
The enemy had previously held off allied attempts to take the hill.
Town councillor Randy Jorgensen laid a wreath dedicated to the Battle of Vimy Ridge victory.
Jim Matz, who grew up on Ontario Street in Bracebridge in the late 1940s and remembers the town building Memorial Park, was among those on hand.
“That was really something, especially for a five-year-old when they brought in the canons.”
He helped bring the 48th Highlanders of Holland Pipe & Drum band here last year for two appearances and performances at the Bracebridge and Gravenhurst legion last summer.
Matz and his wife Sharon were in Gravenhurst to visit his two sisters, on Bay Street.
They live in Burlington now, which is a twin city with Appeldoorn and brought the band over. He made sure they had a trip to Muskoka.
He made the trek specifically on April 9 to commemorate the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
He’s a retired history teacher and she also taught.
He is headed back to Holland again for the “big” May 5 celebration of Canada’s liberation of Holland.
Sharon’s health prevents a return trip. They’ve been there nine other times for various war celebrations.
“It’s a really big deal for them over there,” said Matz, standing at the Gravenhurst cenotaph.
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