Okanagan residents can look to the sky to celebrate a significant milestone in Canadian history.
Vernon resident Andy Wylie, who is building Canada’s only Vimy Ridge memorial – Vimy Lane – at his property on 29th Street in Vernon, has procured a pair of spotlights that will be put at the Allan Brooks Nature Centre on Saturday, April 8, and Sunday, April 9.
At dusk each night, the spotlights will be turned on at the nature centre and will form a V to celebrate the 100th anniversary of arguably Canada’s greatest war battle.
“V is for Vimy; V is for Vernon,” said Wylie, who has drawn support for the spotlights and his Vimy Lane memorial from Guy Bailey of the Ultimate Social Club.
“It’s the 150th birthday of Canada and the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge. It’s our only chance to do this,” said Bailey.
Vimy Ridge was fought in the First World War from April 9 to April 12, 1917. The Canadian War Museum calls the victory at Vimy “a defining event for Canada, considered by many contemporaries and later scholars to be a significant event in Canada’s progress to full independence from Britain.
“The battle has since become an important symbol for Canada, the place where Canadians from across the country delivered an unprecedented victory, all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fighting together for the first time in the war.”
Wylie began his project in 2016 and, if he can make the spotlights permanent, it would add to the memorial which he hopes to turn into a major attraction. He has started a petition aimed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to build a four search light Vimy Memorial Outline at the Army Camp.
The spectacular Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France is painted onto the back of a warehouse in Vimy Lane.
“I want to expose the memorial to millions of Canadians,” said Wylie.
Interested people can go to Vimy Lane on April 9 for a special event.
From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be the raising of the Canadian flag plus the singing of O Canada in both official languages. There will be remarks and a few poems and, for a donation toward Vimy Lane, people can paint maple leafs on the memorial.
Music and refreshments will be on hand.
“Andy has devoted much time , money and effort creating the only Vimy memorial in Canada and we salute his passion, commitment and patriotism,” said Bailey of his club’s sponsorship.
Other sponsors include Cloverdale Paint; Allan Brooks Nature Centre; Rocky Mountain Transport; Nor-Val Rentals; and Sun Dial Lighting.