Canada confederated in 1867, but for many Canadians, a true sense of nationhood would only manifest itself 50 years later. The defining moment came when the 85th Battalion of the Nova Scotia “Overseas” Highland Brigade, despite not being trained for combat, succeeded where others had failed by storming German-occupied Hill 145 at Vimy Ridge, France, in April 1917. Not only was the victory at Vimy the turning point in the Great War, it was the pivotal moment in defining the Canadian identity.
Today, of course, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial stands on the very site of that hill, in the municipality of Givenchy-en-Gohelle. France gifted the land to Canada so the site of the war memorial and surrounding area is actually Canadian soil. (The war memorial is one of only two national historic sites located overseas; the second is also in France.)
In March-April 2017, and in July 2017, Cape Bretoners and the people of Hauts-de-France (Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie) will undertake a series of international exchanges to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation.
The exchanges tarted the Vimy Ridge GIS project.