A piece of Vimy planted in Joggins
Community plants oak tree in honour of soldiers killed at Vimy Ridge
Five young men from Joggins lost their lives at Vimy Ridge during the First World War.
The community recognized that sacrifice 100 years ago on Monday with the planting of a Vimy Oak tree near the cenotaph.
One of those killed was Gwen Archibald’s great uncle, LCpl. Frederick Belliveau.
“I think this is a very special day for Joggins. It’s a little community, but the community spirit is alive and well here,” Archibald said following the ceremony. “We’re thrilled with this. It’s a bit of a bittersweet day for me because it’s on my dad’s side of the family but he’s not here today, but I know he’s watching.”
“We have a connection to Vimy in that five young men from this community died in the period leading up to Vimy, during Vimy and after the battle. This is a community tree.”
Legion secretary Dara Legere said it’s fitting for one of the trees to be planted in Joggins.
“We have a connection to Vimy in that five young men from this community died in the period leading up to Vimy, during Vimy and after the battle,” Legere said. “This is a community tree.”
Along with Belliveau, who died on April 9, 1917, Privates James Como (who was killed in the days leading up to Vimy), Frank Forrest, George Livingston and James Lloyd all were lost.
The Joggins Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion purchased the tree from the Vimy Oaks Legacy Corporation, which is working in partnership with the Vimy Foundation to bring oak trees back to the battle site and create a living memorial at Vimy to preserve Canada’s First World War legacy.
The tree is a descendant of an oak tree at Vimy Ridge, whose acorns were gathered in days following the battle by soldier Lt. Col. Leslie Miller.
Miller, knowing something special had happened at Vimy Ridge, collected the acorns from the tree that had been destroyed by artillery fire. He sent the handful of acorns home to Scarborough, Ont., where he would plant them on his farm, he aptly called Vimy Oaks Farm.
Pam Harrison saw a news story on the Vimy Oaks project and contacted the Joggins legion about it.
Legere contacted the foundation and helped arrange the planting at the cenotaph and Harrison made a financial contribution to make it happen.
“When I think of that young soldier picking up those acorns from blood-soaked soil and then bringing them back to Canada it’s really heart-touching,” she said. “It’s very special for us to have one of these trees in Canada.”
Legere said the legion is also working on improving the cenotaph grounds and will be adding seven more names of Joggins’ residents who were killed during the First World War.
Legion president Doug Legere said the planting is timely on the 100th anniversary of the battle. He and his brother Dara’s grandfather fought at Vimy Ridge and took part in the cleanup in the weeks following the battle.
“This is a living testament to the community and what those young men, who were really boys, did 100 years ago,” he said. “Hopefully when the bicentennial of Vimy is celebrated a hundred years from now we’ll have a majestic oak here.”
Pam Harrison helps Dara Legere (left) and Doug Legere plant a Vimy Oak tree near the Joggins cenotaph in memory of five soldiers from the community who were killed at Vimy Ridge in France during the First World War.