Schoolchildren from nearby Givenchy-en-Gohelle helped plant a number of the “Vimy Oaks” at the new Vimy Centennial Park on Oct. 29. (Photo: Pascal Brunet/Vimy Foundation)
The Vimy Foundation Centennial Park, which will open to the public Nov. 9 as part of official Armistice 100 commemorations, is intended to be a space for quiet contemplation and dialogue.
Visitors to Vimy can learn about the battle at the education centre, explore the tunnels and trenches, and take in the breathtaking limestone Vimy memorial monument, but there wasn’t a place where they could then sit and process the experience, says Jeremy Diamond, Executive Director of the Vimy Foundation, which led the development of the park. “We wanted to create a space to tell the story of these Vimy oak trees, where we can gather young people or tour groups to sit on a bench and take a moment to reflect on what was 100 years ago.”
Set on 1.6 hectares of former farmland adjacent to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, the park features 100 oaks planted in four concentric circles, representing the four Canadian divisions that fought together for the first time at Vimy. Paths and benches throughout provide a view to the Vimy monument, while a sculpture of a bugler, designed by Canadian artist Marlene Hilton Moore, calls to its twin at CFB Borden near Barrie, Ont., where many of the soldiers who fought at Vimy trained.