Birth of a Nation

The Battle of Vimy Ridge could be considered the birth of Canada’s ‘true’ independence and the idea of being Canadian,but in my opinion i disagree with this idea and believe that there are other factors and battles that may prove that the Battle of Vimy Ridge was not the creation of Canada’s reputation. The battle was significant to Canadian history because it was a feat accomplished by Canadian infantry, but other armies from the British and French were also at that battle to support Canada. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, “while most of the infantry that attacked the ridge were Canadian, they would not have been able to go up the slopes of the ridge without the British artillery, engineers and supply units that supported them.” This quote proves that the victory on Vimy Ridge was not mainly a Canadian win that was accomplished by just Canadians, instead it was a team effort of multiple armies and is a victory that doesn’t show how self-reliant Canada is in the war. The second reason is that the contribution by Canadians on Vimy Ridge was not the same as other battles fought by Canadians such as Passchendaele and Hill 70. Around 97,000 canadians out of 170,000 soldiers fought at Vimy Ridge, but the battle of Hill 70 was fought almost entirely by Canadian troops. Mammoth battles like Hill 70 were what gave canadian troops the reputation of elite “shock troops”. The third point that should be noted is that the victory of Vimy Ridge is celebrated more by Canadians than most other countries. What some may not know is that other battles such as Passchendaele (also a big win for Canada and Allied forces) was a victory that recognized Canadian greatness from the view of another country. This helped Canada receive international recognition. Philip Gibbs who was one of five official British war journalists during the war said,”The Canadians have had more luck than the English, New Zealand and Australian troops who fought the way up with most heroic endeavour, and not a man in the army will begrudge them the honour which they have gained, not easily, nor without the usual price of victory, which is some men’s death and many men’s pain. After an heroic attack by the Canadians, they fought their way over the ruins of Passchendaele and into the ground beyond it. Their gains held, the seal is set upon the most terrific achievement of war ever attempted and carried through by British arms.” This line highlights the importance of Canada in significant moments of the war and their impact on the war. This battle further cements Canada’s reputation as a nation.The final point is that the Battle of Vimy Ridge is in a way overrated. According to the Chronicle Herald in Nova Scotia,“When the Canadians arrived, Vimy Ridge was a muddy moonscape pitted with underground tunnels and bomb craters, and littered with the corpses of some of the more than 300,000 British, French and Germans who had died there.” The point of this quote is to show that Canada wasn’t really the first to the lines, instead the Canadians took a ‘backseat’ and at the right place on the right time they came and conquered Vimy Ridge(in a way Canada got lucky). In conclusion the Battle of Vimy Ridge did not give birth to Canada’s reputation and its existence as a nation. It was the other historical moments of war such as the battles on Hill 70 and Passchendaele that truly gave Canada their reputation as a nation and a nation that Canadians can call their own.

Philip Gibbs,Journalist
Sir Arthur Currie, Senior Officer
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