We're pleased to announce that on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 we will be planting a Vimy Oak tree in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The tree was made available through the Vimy Oaks Legacy Project with the cooperation of Landscape NB/PEI. The Vimy Oak Trees were grown from scions cut from oak trees grown from acorns gathered on the Vimy Battlefield by Lieutenant Leslie H. Miller in 1917. The planting will take place during the Anglophone East School District Heritage Fair.
After the Battle at Vimy Ridge was won, many soldiers realized that they had been part of something truly great. Lieutenant Leslie H. Miller, born in 1889 in Milliken, ON, looked around for a souvenir on the Ridge, which was completely devoid of structures or vegetation due to shell fire but he did find a half buried oak tree. He gathered up a handful of acorns.
Those acorns were subsequently planted by him on his farm which he called ‘Vimy Oaks Farm’ and are now large majestic oaks. The First World War wiped out all but one native oak in the Vimy region, and the Vimy Oaks Legacy Project was created to repatriate the native oaks to Vimy Ridge to create a living memorial to honour the memory of all those who fought, connecting modern Canada and modern France, and reaffirming our comradeship with France and her people.
In January 2015, the process began with professional arborists taking cuttings (scions) from the crowns of the oaks which were grafted onto base root stock – Quercus robur. Today, the trees are almost 5 feet tall and are ready for their journey back to France and to various places across Canada.
Landscape NB & PEI was able to obtain 40 trees out of a stock of 200 from the foundation and brought them to New Brunswick to be shared across the two provinces. In April, they sent out a request for appropriate locations to plant them and were overwhelmed with requests.
When asked about the Vimy Oaks Legacy project, Executive Director of Landscape NB&PEI, Jim Landry said, “Last June I had the opportunity to visit the grave of my great uncle and his best friend who were both killed at the battle. Also, I have worked my entire life in the horticulture industry. This project links those two things together so beautifully. “.
Stuart Liptay, President of the Albert County Historical Society says, “We were fortunate that Brunswick Limestone out of Hillsborough, NB contacted us about the potential for getting one of the Vimy Oaks through Landscape NB&PEI, as we had no idea some were even available. I immediately called Jim Landry at Landscape NB&PEI and asked him for a tree. Once Jim heard the story about our Vimy Ridge gun he was really excited about the prospect.” Liptay went on to say,” The museum is in the process of restoring a gun that was captured at Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917. The gun was captured by the 27th Battalion at Vimy Ridge and was awarded to Albert County in the 1919 Victory Loans Competition. The addition of a living oak tree descended from the great oak trees at Vimy Ridge is an amazing addition to the story of our Vimy Gun.”
The oak tree is going to be planted across from an English Oak which was planted in 1939 to commemorate the Royal Visit of King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth when they toured across Canada by train. The two oak trees, one from England and one with roots at Canada’s great battle in France are a great symbol of unity for our country in its 150th year.
The planting ceremony will take place at the Albert County Museum on Wednesday, May 10 at 3pm just before the awards ceremony for the Anglophone East School District Regional Heritage Fair. Viewing of the Heritage Fair projects begins at 2pm and is open to the public. The Heritage Fair highlights projects developed by middle school students around historical and heritage related themes.
We hope to see a crowd out on Wednesday afternoon!