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CFB Borden making Canadian history with sacred soil collected at Vimy Ridge

For the first time in Canadian history, sacred soil recovered from a World War 1 battlefield in France will be repatriated in a ceremony in Barrie next month
Major Retired Rick Kurtzer, Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman, CFB Borden Base Commander Brigadier General Carl Doyon, Honorary Colonel Jamie Massie and Base Chief Warrant Officer Gilles Godbout released details of upcoming Centennial celebrations today. Robin MacLennan/BarrieToday

For the first time in Canadian history, sacred soil recovered from a World War 1 battlefield in France will be repatriated in a ceremony to be held in Barrie next month.​

Soil was collected at Vimy Ridge by a delegation that travelled from Barrie last June. Currently stored at CFB Trenton, the urn will travel along the Highway of Heroes on June 3, to arrive at the Barrie Armoury, located on Parkside Drive.

Following the Freedom of the City Parade, the urn will depart the Barrie Armoury and arrive at the Peacekeeper Park in Angus on morning of June 7.


IMG_4539Honourary Colonel Jamie Massey

"The soil is symbolic of the 3,598 Canadians who died at Vimy that day," said Honorary Colonel Jamie Massie, . "More than 7,200, including  my grandfather who lost his leg in that battle on Easter Sunday, 1917.

"It truly was a day that Canada went from being a colony of Great Britain to being a nation of the world."

A two-day vigil will occur with Base Borden military and cadets, safeguarding the urn, which symbolizes the sacrifice of Canada’s peacekeepers over the last century, that including military and law enforcement.

The journey home will be complete when the sacred soil is placed in a new Borden Legacy monument on June 9 at 11 a.m

Soil will then be transported from Peacekeeper Park to the site via First World War wagon and horses and integrated into the wall during the ceremony.

Details of Borden's century of service to Canada celebrations were revealed at a press conference at the Barrie Armoury Monday morning.

The public is encouraged to celebrate "100 years of Freedom" at the following events:

  • Freedom of the City Parade in Barrie: Saturday, June 4 beginning at 11 a.m. - more than 1,000 troops participating, including 500 from CFB Borden
  • Borden Legacy Monument will be unveiled at Base Borden's north entrance at 11 a.m. on Thursday, June 9. Part of the monument will include the sacred soil returned from Vimy last year.
  • Canadian Armed Forces Day and Air Show - June 11 and 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days - the 3-hour show will feature world-famous Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds, the CF-18 Hornet fighter jet, the Canadian Armed Forces Skyhawks parachute team, Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft and warbirds as well as an extensive number of ground displays, army vehicles, a forward operating base and special events.

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Robin MacLennan

About the Author: Robin MacLennan

Robin MacLennan has been a reporter, photographer and editor for the daily media in Barrie, across Simcoe County and Toronto for many years. She is a proud member of the Barrie community.
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