Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books

Monday Monuments and Memorials – The Ghosts of Vimy Ridge, Parliament Buildings, Ottawa

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April 9 is a national day of remembrance in Canada marking the anniversary of the 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge. The battle was the first time in WW1 when all four Canadian divisions fought as a united group. The victory is seen by many as a defining moment of Canadian national identity. The ridge is the site of Canada’s largest WW1 monument in France.

The Ghosts of Vimy Ridge by Australian artist William Longstaff hangs in the Railway Committee Room, off the Hall of Honour in the Centre Block of Parliament Hill. Ghosts of soldiers rise toward the Canadian Vimy Memorial on the top of  on the ridge. Longstaff employed many of the same allegorical motifs in Menin Gate at Midnight (Ghosts of Menin Gate) and Immortal Shrine (Eternal Silence), both in the Australian War Memorial.

Vimy Ridge is also memorialized over a window on the west wall of Centre Block. Alas, it is covered in scaffolding for several years as the building undergoes major repairs. (Drat!) The original building was razed in a fire 100 years ago and rebuilding started during the war. The stonecarvers of a small, often overlooked element of the building took up the theory that German spies were behind the fire. Carvings include a masked German spy and Kaiser Wilhelm. Best photos I’ve found are here. (Alas, the photos have been removed. Will link again if I find another.)


Author: greatwar100reads

Canadian crusader for equality and justice. Connoisseur and creator of the written word. Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books and monuments. Read more at

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