Smiths Falls – Students at Smiths Falls and District Collegiate Institute (SFDCI) planted a Vimy Oaks sapling Thursday, May 18 at the Smiths Falls Cenotaph in a ceremony to remember Canadians who fought and died in the epic battle.
The afternoon ceremony was attended by dignitaries such as Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington MPP Randy Hillier, who commented on the sacrifices made by Canadians at the famous battle a century ago, and Smiths Falls Mayor Shawn Pankow. Area residents also participated by pushing soil into the hole surrounding the root bulb of the small tree.
The sapling was produced from a tree grown from an acorn brought back from the Vimy battlefield a century ago by a Canadian soldier and planted in what was then a fruit farmer’s field in Scarborough. It is one of dozens being distributed across Canada to mark the battle on its 100th anniversary.
Students who participated in the project said it helped focus their learning about Canada’s role at Vimy.
“For me, I learn a lot better by doing and not being told stuff,” said Ben Seward, a 17-year-old SFDCI student leader on the project. “By doing activities like this, you learn about history in a really good way. It sticks. This is a living monument and it is going to grow along with us. “
The ceremony was the culmination of a larger, inquiry-based educational project at the high school, said Blake Seward, Ben’s father and an SFDCI teacher on the project. Aside from lessons in history, the project included elements of civics, as students worked with town officials to decide the most appropriate location to plant the sapling. English students developed the wording for a small monument that will be installed next month alongside the sapling. Even the school’s hospitality program was involved, preparing food for a reception following the ceremony at the Smiths Falls branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Pictured above: A member of the community helps with the planting of the Vimy Oaks sapling.