Canadian shells attempting to blow a way through the massive German barbed wire entanglements on Vimy RIdge, April 1917
Photo Credit: AWM H07021

Vimy: 100 years later, Canadians a little confused about when and where of this major battle


It is almost 100 years to the day that Canada achieved a nation-defining moment in April 1917. It was on the battlefields of northern France during the First World War.

Where Britain and France had failed with astronomical loss of life in earlier years, a Canadian army brought together as a unified force for the first time, managed to push the Germans off a reinforced high ground in northern France near Arras known as Vimy Ridge.

It was following that huge morale-boosting victory that other nations, and Canada itself, began to realize it was a distinct entity, a nation, and not merely a colonial part of the British empire.

About 100,000 people, most veterans of the war and families, attended the official unveiling of the magnificent Canadian Vimy memorial in France in 1936. Many thousands will again gather this weekend for the 100th anniversary of the battle, but it seems many others know little or nothing of this important event © National Film Board of Canada

You’d think such an important event in Canada’s history would be widely known by Canadians. Once upon a time it certainly was. Not so now apparently

A genealogy tracing company,,  recently conducted a survey and found there are literally about a million Canadians who don’t realize they are related to a Vimy soldier.  While their main focus is tracing your family history, their survey revealed some sadly surprising points.

Vimy ? Was that in 1812? Uh…in Canada?

Conducted in March, the Google online survey of 1001 Canadians showed that the majority didn’t know in what war the battle of Vimy Ridge was fought.

Some 25 percent thought it was a Second World War battle, and five percent thought it was from the war of 1812.

Only 43 percent knew it was the First World War.

Geography was also not a strong point as 20 percent didn’t know what country Vimy is located in.

Indeed, eleven percent thought it was in Canada!

A slim majority (54%) however did at least know it was in France.

It is perhaps worth pointing out that education is a provincial jurisdiction in Canada, so what is taught and how it is taught varies from province to province and there is not a unified history taught across Canada. Indeed history, and especially Canadian history, might be taught only briefly, if at all, in various schools districts across the country.

As for genealogy, used mathematical calculations to estimate there are some 15 million Canadians with a WWI veteran ancestor, and 4.5 million with a Vimy Ridge ancestor.

One in ten Canadians know they have a  Vimy veteran ancestor, ie about 3.5 millioin Canadians, which means approximately one million present day Canadians are unaware of their family connection to this seminal battle and event.

additional information

Categories: International, Politics, Society
Tags: , , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.