Students from Absorbent Minds Montessori, ages 3 and 4, help plant the memorial oak. (Sam Anderson)

UPDATE: Vimy Ridge memorial oak tree planted in Surrey Centre Cemetery

Sapling descended from oak tree destroyed 100 years ago during the battle of Vimy Ridge

On Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 11), the sacrifice of Canadian soldiers who fought in the First World War, and at Vimy Ridge, was honoured in a small ceremony at Surrey Centre Cemetery in Cloverdale.

An oak sapling, descended from an oak tree destroyed during the battle of Vimy Ridge, was planted to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the battle.

Representatives from the City of Surrey, the Cloverdale Legion and the Surrey Historical Society, as well as Surrey residents and a passing class of preschool children, came together to watch Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag and Surrey Councillor Dave Woods plant the oak.

Speaking on behalf of Surrey City Council, Woods told the group that many Surrey residents enlisted during the First World War, and 23 lost their lives.

Two Surrey men died at Vimy Ridge, a four-day battle that killed or wounded more than 10,600 Canadian soldiers. Harry Triggs, who grew up in Tynehead, and Frank Donald Aish of Hazelmere, lost their lives during that battle.

One hundred years later, Vimy Ridge is remembered as the first time the four Canadian army divisions fought as a unified force, accomplishing what was thought impossible by the British and French forces – they captured the heavily fortified Vimy Ridge, 175 km north of Paris, France.

On Wednesday, the ceremonial shoveling of dirt was lightened by laughter from the crowd, as eight preschool children lined up to take turns helping “plant” the tree by spreading dirt around its base.

The sapling had a long journey to get to Cloverdale. Aldag acquired three saplings from the Vimy Oaks Farm in Ontario, as a living memorial to the centennial anniversary of Vimy Ridge, earlier this year.

The Vimy Oaks were planted by Lt. Col. Leslie Miller in Scarborough, Ontario, with acorns he took as a souvenir from an oak tree destroyed by artillery fire at Vimy Ridge. Saplings from Vimy Oaks Farm were made available this year so Canadians could commemorate the centennial of the battle, and so Aldag obtained three for Cloverdale and Langley.

The saplings were trucked over from Ontario during a very hot, dry summer, said Aldag. They were then taken in by the City of Surrey Parks and Recreation Department, who nurtured them back to health.

“Hopefully it will grow and thrive and become a place that we can remember a very tangible connection to those who died at Vimy Ridge,” said Aldag.

Aldag planted the first sapling during BC Rivers Day Community Festival in Langley on Sept. 24. The third and final tree will be planted near Douglas Park in Langley on Nov. 3.

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Back row, from left: Councillor Dave Woods, Cloverdale Legion President Barry Zuk, Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag, Sergean-at-Arms Laurier Cadieux. Front row: students from Absorbent Minds Montessori, ages 3 and 4. (Sam Anderson)

Students from Absorbent Minds Montessori, ages 3 and 4, help plant the memorial oak. (Sam Anderson)

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