The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 18

IMAGES: DAVID PEARCE

only weeks before we left home. We took an early
train from Paris to Arras and picked up a rental car,
punched the destination in our GPS and made the
13-kilometre trip north out of town.
Arriving at Vimy Ridge is a bit anti-climactic, since
visitors are obligated to stop at the park office and
get involved in a tour of the trenches and the knobby
(now tree-covered) battlefield. It is an important
step in understanding trench warfare and the context of the monument.
The Vimy Ridge Memorial is approached from the rear, down a long, straight and very
flat walkway. Incredibly, because of its position on the Ridge, there is no backdrop.
There is only a plane of green grass, the diminishing perspective lines of the walkway,
a white tableau and twin towers rising to the sky. It looks astonishingly simple.
Nearing the monument, you become aware of the first of the carved figures, reclined
on either side of the steps - the Mourning Parents. Continue around to the east face
of the monument - the front face - and the ground drops away from the Ridge. A
7.3-metre-high wall at the base represents an impenetrable barrier. There are 20 carved
figures in all, displaying grief, sadness, hunger, sympathy and disease. There are no
charging soldiers, no guns drawn, no cannons ready to fire. Any weapons depicted are
silenced. A cannon barrel is draped with olive and laurel branches. A sword is broken
over a kneeling soldier's knee.
The most moving sculpture is that of Canada Bereft or Mother Canada. The towering
figure of a cloaked woman looks down on a dying soldier, her chin supported by her
left fist. If she were to look up she would see the Douai Plains that the monument
faces. But she does not look up.
This is a monument which represents much. It commemorates an event. It promotes
peace and the defeat of militarism. It does not glorify war. It promotes pacifism.
Designed in 1921 by Walter Seymour Allward, the monument was unveiled at Vimy
on July 26, 1936. Formal ceremonies are held each year at the monument on April 9
to commemorate the battle. Dignitaries from the world over attend and pay thanks to
Canada for their role here. This spring marked the 100th anniversary of the Battle of
Vimy Ridge and again this monument was the focus of our nation.
For me, the visit was a powerful experience, all the more so because our visit
coincided with the anniversary of an event that marked Canada's coming of age. If
monuments are intended to remind us of long-ago events and stir our emotions, the
Vimy Ridge Memorial is an impressive success.
DAVID PEARCE is an architect who recently retired as Managing Partner from Pearce McCluskey
Architects in Mississauga, Ontario

18 | Read The Right Angle Journal online www.therightanglejournal.ca

It looks
astonishingly
simple.


http://www.therightanglejournal.ca

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017

Message from the Board
Introduction to The Right Angle Journal
Places
Allied Arts & Professions: Light-Colour-Darkness
Index to Advertisers
Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Intro
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - cover1
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - cover2
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 3
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 4
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 5
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 6
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Message from the Board
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 8
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Introduction to The Right Angle Journal
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Places
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 11
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 12
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 13
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 14
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 15
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 16
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 17
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 18
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 19
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Allied Arts & Professions: Light-Colour-Darkness
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Index to Advertisers
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - cover3
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - cover4
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