How the Vimy myth was created, and why it's wrong to perpetuate it
One hundred and fifty years ago, the British Parliament passed the British North America Act, the legislation that created the Dominion of Canada ... an independent country as of July 1, 1867.
Notwithstanding the many First Nations that had built their cultures, societies and governance systems for hundreds or thousands of years in what was now Canada, the new dominion was still seen as a fledgling country with one hand still clutching the apron strings of Mother England.
It wasn't until April, 1917, the story goes, when Canada stormed a battlefield in the North of France and seized a hill that had been held by the German army, that the country came of age, emerging as a united, resourceful, vigorous and valourous 50-year-old nation.
The Canadians were given little chance of taking Vimy Ridge from the Germans. But the four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force — all fighting together for the first time in the Great War — hurled an awesome artillery barrage at the German position and surged across the battlefield, forcing the Germans to retreat.
After a four-day battle, nearly 36-hundred Canadian soldiers lay dead in the cold, corpse-littered muck and slime, and 7-thousand more were wounded. But they held the Ridge and helped shift the course of the war toward an Allied victory.
But some historians take issue with this narrative of Vimy Ridge and The Great War.