Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park, France

Vimy Memorial Park

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is situated  about eight kilometers northeast of Arras, France and overlooks the Douai Plain from the highest point of Vimy Ridge. The Memorial is dedicated to the memory of Canadian Expeditionary Force members killed during the First World War.

Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park - France The Battle of Vimy Ridge was the first occasion whereupon all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force participated in a battle as a cohesive formation.

In 1920 that the Imperial War Graves Commission awarded Canada eight sites/five in France and three in Belgium/ on which to erect memorials.
An architectural design competition was opened to all Canadian artists, designers, architects and sculptors. About 160 design drawings were submitted and the jury selected 17 submissions for consideration. Each finalist had to produce a model of their design.
In October 1921, the commission selected the submission of Walter Seymour Allward – a Toronto sculptor and designer,  as the winner of the competition, and that of Frederick Chapman Clemesha as runner-up.
The commission decided to build two memorials - that of Mr. Allward and Mr. Clemesha - and six smaller identical memorials.

The commission selected Vimy Ridge as the preferred site  because of its elevation above the plain below.
Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park - France

In December 1922 France granted Canada “freely and for all time” the use of 250 acres of land on Vimy Ridge, in recognition of Canada’s war effort and with only condition Canada to use the land to erect a monument commemorating Canadian soldiers killed during the First World War.

Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park - France Mr. Allward set up a studio in London in 1922 and toured for almost two years in an attempt to find a stone of the right color, texture, and luminosity for the memorial. He discovered beautiful limestone around Seget, Croatia. The complicated transportation logistics delayed delivery of the stone, as the first shipment of stone did not arrive at the memorial site until 1927. A new construction method for the monument was chosen - limestone was bonded to a cast concrete frame. A foundation bed contains about 11, 000 tones of concrete, reinforced with steel, serving as the support bed for the memorial. The memorial base and twin pylons contains almost 6,000 tones of a Seget limestone.

Sculptors carved the 20 human figures on-site, from large blocks of stone. All plaster models were produced by Mr. Allward in his studio and an instrument called a pantograph was used to reproduce the figures at the proper scale. The names of the missing were included on the memorial walls.
The memorial contains 20 human figures.

The front wall is 24 feet high and represents an impenetrable wall of defense.
The twin pylons represent France and Canada, partners in arms, symbolizing the unity and sacrifice of both countries. The height is 30 meters above the memorial’s stone platform.
Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park - France
Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park - France The statues of The Chorus on the western side representing Justice and Peace. Peace holds in his hands a torch upraised, making it the highest point in the region. Below Justice and Peace on the eastern side are located the figures of Hope, Charity, Honor and Faith, with Truth and Knowledge on the western side. Shields of Canada, Britain and France are around these figures.

At the base between the two pylons is located The Spirit of Sacrifice. A young dying soldier is gazing upward in a crucifixion-like pose, having thrown his torch to a comrade who holds it aloft behind him.

 

Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park - France
The figure of Mother Canada - Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park - France In front of the wall stands the Figure of a young female, overlooking the Douai Plains. Her head is bowed, her eyes cast down, and her chin is resting in one hand. The saddened figure of Mother Canada, is a national personification of the young nation of Canada, mourning her dead. The statue has similar style to Michelangelo’s Pieta. The statue serves as a focal point and is the largest single piece in the monument.

One male and one female figure, the Mourning Parents, are situated on either side of the western steps on the reverse side of the monument.

The Mourning Parents - Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park, France The Mourning Parents - Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park, France

On the outside wall of the monument are the names of the 11 285 Canadians.
Vimy Memorial Park is significant and brilliantly realized and was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1996.

Find the full article here

 

Map of Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park, France

Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park, France

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