The 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge was this past Sunday April 9th, 2017. It was an important battle for Canada’s coming of age as a nation and as such, has a major significance for Canadians. It is the largest overseas war memorial and is the centerpiece of a 250-acre preserved battlefield park where all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force fought during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

This was the first time all four divisions fought together and they spent the entire winter preparing for this battle. They strengthened their lines, raided German positions for intelligence and also dug tunnels beneath the German lines. Large explosives were placed behind enemy lines thanks to the elaborate tunnel system that was built during the winter.

While the battle was successful, almost 3,600 Canadians lost their lives 100 years ago. On the base of the monument there are 11,285 names of Canadians who lost their lives in France and have no known grave and the monument stands as a tribute to all Canadians who lost their lives in WWI.

You can learn all of this from the pages of a book or you can visit the memorial in Northern France, just outside Arras, and truly take in this momentous battle and understand what it meant for Canada as a nation. I have visited a number of different memorials and locations that were important during WWI and WWII, and I can’t even begin to describe the difference between being there and simply reading about it. It is like the Asian proverb: “Better to see something once, than to hear about it a thousand times”. You can read about the Battle of Vimy Ridge over and over again, but by visiting it, you will gain a whole new level of understanding.

You can have a guide escort you through the tunnels and there is a small museum as well as a cemetery. A lot of the site is closed off to the public due to trenches, craters and unexploded munitions; a stark reality that brings history to life.

A lot of Canadians have relations who fought in WWI and WWII and it makes this trip especially poignant. If you have ties to other battles or even know where a family member was buried after the war, you can travel to Europe and tour some of the important sights, such as the Landing Beaches of Normandy, Ypres, Dieppe, and pay tribute to your family member and all Canadians who have served their country.

About the Author

Rhian Torontow is a Family Travel Consultant with Magical Family Adventures. Rhian creates travel experiences that foster connections in your family that will last a lifetime and transforms your children into open-minded, flexible, well-travelled people. During Rhian’s childhood, her father travelled for work constantly and it was always travel that brought her family back together. You can follow Rhian on Facebook at, Instagram @MagicalFamilyAdventures and you can also connect with her on LinkedIn