CP commemorates the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

The April 9 1917 battle on a snow-swept French hillside is key to Canada's history. 100 years have since passed, but the legacy of Canadians who served during the First World War and fought in this battle will never be forgotten.

Hundreds filled Veterans Square in downtown Cloverdale on Sunday morning to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

The Last Post was played by a bugler using an instrument that had been sounded in the very area, as it had belonged to George William Shaw, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces who served at Vimy Ridge, and was loaned by his grandson. "This victory forged the birth of a national Canadian identity".

As many as 25,000 Canadians are expected to join Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and bow their heads in solemn remembrance at the nation's Vimy memorial to honour service and sacrifice.

CP put the resources of its entire globe-spanning freight and travel system at the disposal of the British Empire and allies at the outset of the war, contributing not only tracks and trains, but its ships, yards, shops, hotels, telegraph lines and - above all else - its people.

William and Harry - who have both served in the armed forces - will lay a pair of boots, some of the first of thousands that will be placed at the site by Canadian and French youth - representing nearly 3,600 Canadians who died during the battle.

Many Canadians consider the victory at Vimy a significant step toward Canada's colonial emancipation from Britain, but some Canadian historians have debunked the state's official view of its significance.

"A century ago, soldiers from throughout Alberta and across Canada banded together to take on a challenge unlike anything our country had faced before", Mitchell said.

Speaking from the towering white structure, Trudeau spoke of the 3,598 Canadians - "most were men in their early twenties" - who were killed fighting to take control of the strategic eight-kilometre (five-mile) ridge.

The battle of Vimy Ridge was the first occasion during the World War I that all four divisions of the Canadian corps fought alongside each other. Let us remember those soldiers who sacrificed so much and let us strive always for a better understanding of our history and for peace. Clapperton. "As a country, we came together".

Many like Toronto businessman Drew Hamblin, who will spend Sunday at Vimy with his father and two children, had grandfathers who told them about the rain and the cold and the rat-infested tunnels. They represented every region of Canada and fought for the values we hold so dear-freedom, democracy and peace.

French President Francois Hollande said Vimy's soldiers "are still speaking to us". "The battle came to define Canada's newly independent place on the world stage".

They've been in the country since Thursday, visiting historic sites from the First World War.

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