Several Smiths Falls men fought and died at the First World War Battle of Vimy Ridge. One hundred years later, their sacrifice will be remembered through the planning of one the 100 oak saplings grown from acorns gathered on the battlefield shortly before the Canadian Corps captured the ridge in four days of fighting April 9-12, 1917.
The tree planting ceremony, organized by students at Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute, is set for 4 p.m. on May 18. The sapling is to be planted next to the town cenotaph. The ceremony will be followed by a reception at the Royal Canadian Legion.
Another 99 saplings will be planted in municipalities across Canada. Two hundred more will be planted on the Vimy battlefield, where artillery bombardment permanently destroyed an existing oak forest. These young trees were grown in Scarborough, Ont. on a farm belonging to the family of Leslie Miller, who as a young lieutenant in the Canadian Army in France that gathered some acorns and sent them home. Those acorns were planted on the farm in Scarborough and eventually grew into mature trees. Just eight of those trees remain, and are slated to be cut down to make way for a bus stop as urban expansion continues. However, over the past two years a volunteer group has grown 2.5 metre saplings from acorns gathered from those few surviving trees.
Another local monument will be dedicated in June, Councillor Jay Brennan announced at a regular Smiths Falls town council meeting on April 18. A stone will be placed along Evergreen Avenue in Victoria Park.
“There’s going to be an unveiling of a commemorative stone, and it’s going to be dedicated to the memory of all soldiers who fought in both world wars,” said Brennan. The unveiling will take place June 3, he added.