Special oak trees being planted in P.E.I., N.B. to mark Vimy anniversary

Oak trees that are directly related to a tree that once stood on the battle ground at Vimy Ridge are being planted in P.E.I. and New Brunswick.

Trees are related to one that stood in battle field 100 years ago

Jim Landry, an arborist from Saint John, N.B., will be planting oak trees in P.E.I. and N.B. to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. (CBC)

A Saint John man is commemorating the Battle of Vimy Ridge by planting some special oak trees in P.E.I. and New Brunswick.

Jim Landry is an arborist who works in both provinces, and he's working with a national group called the Vimy Oaks Legacy Corporation.

In honour of the 100th anniversary of the battle on April 9, some saplings that have been cloned from trees known as the Vimy oaks will be planted in spots such as legions, cenotaphs and schools.

Landry explained the Vimy oaks to Island Morning's Matt Rainnie.

An arborist works on removing a cutting from one of Scarborough's Vimy oaks. (Vimy Foundation)
"There was a soldier that fought during the battle at Vimy Ridge," said Landry. "He wasn't killed. At the end of the battle, he scooped up some acorns and put them in his pocket, and sent them home to Scarborough, Ont. His name was Leslie Miller. When he went home several years later, the trees were there, they were planted, and now it's a hundred years later, and there are 100-year-old oak trees from Vimy Ridge, growing in Scarborough."

Landry has a strong connection to Vimy Ridge. His great-uncle was killed in the battle, and a special artifact came into his possession.

His family had received and kept the original wooden marker from the great-uncle's grave at Vimy.

Those are extremely rare, as most of the original grave markers were destroyed when they were replaced with headstones.

"I immediately made the connection after the discovery of Uncle John's cross and working with trees all my life," said Landry. "It just resonated with me, and I thought, here's an opportunity for me to accomplish a whole bunch of things."

Saint John's Jim Landry stands beside the wooden grave marker of his great-uncle who was killed at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. (CBC)
Landry donated the wooden grave marker and other items to the Canadian War Museum in a special ceremony last year.

There are between 200 and 250 saplings from the Vimy oaks to be planted across the country.

The sites in P.E.I. and New Brunswick are close to being finalized, but what isn't ready is the ground.

It's still too frozen, so instead of planting the trees on April 9, Landry said Canadian flags will mark the spot until the ground is ready.

From the Island Morning interview by Matt Rainnie