After a century in Ontario, oak trees to return to Vimy
Published Saturday, April 8, 2017 10:00PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, April 9, 2017 4:05PM EDT
A century after the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the grounds that surround the Canadian National Vimy Memorial remain cratered and bare. But this former battlefield, which remains off-limits due to the unexploded munitions that still lie underground, was once lined with huge oak trees.
Now, thanks to a Canadian soldier and the work of a family friend, oak trees will soon grow here again.
Lieutenant Leslie Miller was an Ontario fruit farmer who survived 1917’s bloody Battle of Vimy Ridge. Somehow, amidst the devastation on that flattened terrain, Miller found a handful of acorns that he saved and sent home.
“There's no such thing as English oak here back in (the) 1920s, ‘cause they weren't native to Canada,” Monty McDonald told CTV News as he walked through a tree-shaded Scarborough, Ont. property that used to be the site of Miller’s farm.
Upon Miller’s return to Canada, several oaks were already growing from the acorns he had mailed. Today, they now stand tall and healthy, carefully looked after by McDonald, a family friend who is determined to transplant a new generation of oaks back to Vimy.
“Walking along the ridge there, I was looking around,” McDonald said of a visit to the historic battlefield. “I didn't see any oak trees and I said, ‘You know, here are these oak trees down here. Wouldn't it be a nice little project?’”
McDonald plans to fly trees to Vimy for the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, which will be in Nov. 2018. Where trees once stood before the ravages of battle, they will soon stand peacefully again.
With a report from CTV News London correspondent Daniele Hamamdjian