Thursday 1 Dec, 2016

Postcards from the Edge: Holiday on the Front

EF’s National History Advisor, Dave Robinson, is back with his monthly update of all things Vimy. Get to know more as we explore a new monthly theme and meet more group leaders!

It’s time for the last edition of Postcards From the Edge as we end the year. November was a month of remembrance, and as we get even closer to the Vimy 100 event in April, this holiday month brings lots more travel as I and other members of our Educational Programming team continue our journey across Canada to meet with as many of you as possible.

December: Holiday on the Front

“I’m dreaming of home. I feel so alone…”

With only a few months left before we all embark on the adventure that is Vimy 100, and as our students and cadets prepare for the holidays, there’s no better time to reflect on our Canadian military history. If we think back to a hundred years ago, consider how our military missed their family holidays, yet somehow retained the “spirit of Christmas”. Take a look at some of the following links and music videos, which recall the iconic Christmas Truce from the First World War.

-A History Channel video reimagines the Christmas Truce of 1914

-A slide show with archival images of the trenches

-A movie version of the truce from Richard Attenborough’s Oh! What a Lovely War (1969)

Singing a carol on the front; clip from the movie Joyeux Noël  (2005)

I’ve also included two clips from the song “Dreaming of Home”, one from the Here’s a moving rendition of X, which was sung at the Vimy 90th anniversary ceremony that many of our Group Leaders attended. Consider showing this to your group to give them an idea of the emotional impact and the enormity of the event that awaits them in April next year.

-“I’m Dreaming of Home”, sung from the Joyeux Noël soundtrack

-“I’m Dreaming of Home”, live at the Vimy 90th Anniversary commemoration


Featured Vimy Regiments

Check out these links to learn about these three storied Canadian regiments that fought at the battle of Vimy Ridge: the Queens York Rangers; the Nova Scotia Highlanders and the Grey & Simcoe Foresters. From these links, you can also visit their regimental websites.

Featured Group Leaders

Get to know some of our group leaders who will be taking students over to Vimy next April, as they share the stories of their communities and experiences leading up to the big event.

Julia A., Newmarket, ON

My own travel experience began in 2007 when I travelled to Europe for the first time on a family trip.  It was an incredible experience that opened my eyes to a whole new world.  It also gave me the confidence and inspiration to get out there are explore.   In 2010, I traveled with students for the first time and I haven’t looked back. Bringing students to Europe has enriched my teaching career so much. Seeing the looks of amazement on my kids’ faces when they walked into Piazza Navona in Rome for the first time was a memory I will never forget.  Watching young people pause and reflect at the graves of men who fell in battle, and then realize these boys were younger than they…those are powerful moments. While it may sound like a cliché to say we are “bringing history to life”, these trips truly do just that. Experiencing the world, getting out of their comfort zone, trying something new, unplugging their electronics…these are the moments that make a difference in young people’s lives. On April 9, 2017, we will be part of a cast of thousands, but our youth will experience something similar to those young men 100 years ago… we will be coming together as Canadians and doing something important.  Remembering and honouring the sacrifice of our grandfathers and grandmothers must never end regardless of how long ago these events took place.


Craig F., Innisfil, ON

I have lived in Pennsylvania and London, England, and I have travelled internationally and taught abroad in Bermuda, Costa Rica, Australia and New Zealand. This is my second trip with EF Tours. I was honoured to be a part of the 70th Anniversary Juno Beach tour in 2014. Our school decided to be part of the 100th Anniversary of Vimy so we could honour our Canadian soldiers. This trip has become more of a pilgrimage as we researched our local Innisfil fallen (63 soldiers from Innisfil died in the First World War, and seven in the Second World War) and connected with Innisfil veterans and community.  For many of these soldiers, our students will be the first visitors of their grave sites, and we will be taking photos for their families and adding to the digital archives in the Veterans Canada database.  In addition, some students and staff will be visiting family graves in Europe.  As we have prepared for the trip, our students have become more engaged in why we are going and what the trip is really about. We have connected to our community by doing a walkathon on April 9th, 2016 to the Lefroy Legion, presented at the Innisfil Library, hosted a Remembrance Day dinner where many veterans, M.P. John Brassard, Mayor Wauchope, family and students attended, presented at the Shriners and ran the Remembrance Day at our school with the focus on Innisfil’s fallen. When we are in Europe, we intend to visit grave sites of family members of the students; this process has already become very emotional for them.  Our experience has also extended to a connection with schools in the Amsterdam region. Our students presented their research work to our partner school in Holland, and we are looking forward to the opportunity to connect with the students when we visit this area. Our excursion has become much more than just a trip for our students. This experience has brought forward a number of meaningful, authentic connections between our students, the veterans and veterans’  families of Innisfil, our community as a whole, and also with schools in the Amsterdam region. It’s one we are all looking forward to in April 2017!



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