As Canadians gather this weekend to remember the historic battle of Vimy Ridge, it is equally important to recognize the impact the fight had here in Chilliwack.
The Canadian Corps suffered nearly 11,000 casualties in a battle that secured a key German position on the Western Front in April of 1917.
It was the first time all four Canadian divisions fought as a unit in the First World War and their success was later christened as the birth of Canada’s identity.
But that success came at a cost. Among the units fighting was the 104th Regiment, which was drawn from Chilliwack. As news of the Canadian victory spread, so too did its impact.
The front page of the April 26, 1917 Chilliwack Progress carried the stories of 11 men killed in battle.
“If any circumstance was required to bring home the realities of the tremendous conflict, suffering and loss to this district, surely it has been supplied during the past week,”the accompanying article stated.
“Perhaps not since the early days of June, 1915 when the first Chilliwack heroes made the supreme sacrifice in the cause of freedom has the community been so stirred and saddened as during the past ten days. Almost every day one or more families have received messages telling them of the wounding or death of loved ones in far off France.”
The war that would grind on for another 18 months, and these would not be the last Canadian casualties.
On the same front page, a tiny article lists the news that another 200 men from the Lower Mainland would soon be joining the fight. Among them were names like Brett, Wheeler, Menzies and Waddington.