‘Vimy Oak’ dedicated at Frances Park in Surrey
A living monument commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge has taken root at Frances Park, in Surrey’s Fleetwood neighbourhood. Cllr Mike Starchuk, Acting Mayor of the City of Surrey and Ken Hardie, Member of Parliament for Fleetwood Port Kells officiated today at the planting and dedication of an oak tree sapling, a direct descendent of a tree that was destroyed in the artillery bombardment during the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April, 1917.
Virtually every tree on Vimy Ridge was destroyed during the intense attack by Canadian forces, but a Canadian officer, Lieutenant Leslie Miller, gathered acorns and sent them home to Scarborough, Ontario to be planted on his farm. Today, ten of these oaks survive on the woodlot.
As the 100th anniversary of the battle drew near, saplings from the trees were prepared for a return to Vimy Ridge, however a complex certification process prevented their repatriation to France. MP Hardie acquired one of the saplings with the hopes of having it planted near a memorial to Fleetwood’s namesake, Thomas Arthur Fleetwood, who died in battle during World War I.
The City of Surrey’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Department identified a location in Frances Park, named for Arthur Fleetwood’s mother, and the tree was planted and officially dedicated today. Also attending the ceremony was (details TBA).
Acorns from the Vimy Oaks in Scarborough have been rooted at a nursery in France. Current plans are to plant these new trees at the Vimy Memorial in time for the centennial of World War I’s Armistice in November, 2018.
‘My grandfather served Canada in France during World War I and my father sailed on a Canadian Corvette during the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II. This Vimy Oak will be a lasting memorial to them and to all veterans who served and who continue to serve Canada. My deepest thanks and appreciation to the City of Surrey for their support and enthusiasm to see this happen’. Ken Hardie, Member of Parliament, Fleetwood – Port Kells
“The heroic efforts and sacrifice made at Vimy Ridge was instrumental in creating a new and stronger sense of Canadian identity in our country. This distinctly Canadian triumph was a “coming of age” for our then young country and it is fitting that we have such a historic tribute to honour those who served. My thanks to MP Ken Hardie for dedicating the Vimy Oak near a war memorial to Fleetwood’s namesake, Thomas Arthur Fleetwood, who served and died in battle during World War I.”
Mayor Linda Hepner
City of Surrey
Vimy Ridge and other military achievements by Canada during World War One raised our international stature and helped earn us a place at the Treaty of Versailles that ended the Great War.