durability, which he eventually sourced from an ancient Roman quarry in Croatia. Construction began in 1925, and the project took 11 years to complete. Allward oversaw every detail of the work, including the carving of the massive, 27-metre twin pylons and the 20 allegorical statues representing what he considered prototypical Canadian values: Breaking of the Sword, Spirit of Sacrifice, Mourning Parents, Sympathy of the Canadians for the Helpless and, most famously, Mother Canada mourning her dead. Inscribed on the outside wall of the monument were the names of the 11,285 Canadians killed in France during the First World War whose bodies were never recovered or properly buried.</p><p class="body-paragraph" data-auto="body_paragraph" xmlns:Translation="urn:EBSCO- Translation">The monument was unveiled by King Edward VIII in 1936 to great acclaim, and in front of a crowd of 100,000, including 6,000 Canadian war veterans. Four years later, when Germany overran France during the Second World War, stories in Canadian and British newspapers suggested the Nazis had demolished Allward's masterwork. It was pure speculation, or course, aimed at
inflaming Canadian sentiment against Germany. Subsequently, in one of the great ironies of the war, Hitler chose to counter the slur by having himself photographed at the monument, and ordered a standing guard of Waffen-SS to protect the structure from bombing by either German or Allied forces. Thus, while many other First World War monuments on the Western Front were damaged or destroyed during the Second World War, the Vimy Memorial survived intact and unblemished.</p><p class="body-paragraph" data-auto="body_paragraph" xmlns:Translation="urn:EBSCO-Translation">What bombs failed to do, however, time and weather eventually accomplished: by 2005 the monument was badly enough water-damaged that it was closed for two years for extensive repairs. It was reopened to the public at a 2007 ceremony marking the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.</p><p class="body-paragraph" data-auto="body_paragraph" xmlns:Translation="urn:EBSCO-Translation">Today, the monument is one of only two national historic sites outside Canada, on land ceded to Canada by France. It receives upward of 750,000 visitors per year, including tens of thousands of Canadians who make the pilgrimage to northern France to soak up the spirit of Vimy and pay homage to Canadians killed during the First World War.</p><p class="body-paragraph" data-auto="body_paragraph" xmlns:Translation="urn:EBSCO- Translation">"Once you're walking the fields and looking at the cemeteries and the monument, it is unlike any other experience you will have as a Canadian," says Jeremy Diamond, campaign director of the Montreal-based Vimy Foundation. "That's why Vimy is such a draw, and such a visceral experience. You're walking on the same ground on which your fellow Canadians fought and were killed."</p><p class="body-paragraph" data-auto="body_paragraph" xmlns:Translation="urn:EBSCO- Translation">To better enrich and amplify that potent experience, the Vimy
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 49 pages?