Anne Wallace in studio with John Gormley to discuss her tours of First World War battlefields.
Three years ago, Anne Wallace embarked on a trip of a lifetime to France and Belgium to visit the battlefields of the First World War.
The Saskatoon lawyer says the history courses she took in university gave her a basic understanding of the First World War, but actually seeing the places in person gave her a new appreciation.
“What the Western front really was, for example, and what really went on in terms of the back and forth on that line for so long,” Wallace said in an interview on John Gormley Live.
She said she now has a better understanding of what our soldiers went through, including the conditions they lived and fought under during the war.
Wallace travelled with a group of University of Saskatchewan alumni, which was led by local historian Bill Waiser. She said it was valuable to look at the battlefields through today’s eyes.
“One of the things that really struck me was the reverence with which the people in France and Belgium hold Canadians in terms of their still thankfulness for what the Canadians did for them in the Great War,” Wallace said.
One of their first stops on the tour was a place called Vancouver Corner. After the war Belgium deeded a few acres of land to Canada. The memorial commemorates Canada’s participation in the Second Battle of Ypres. It included the defence against the first poison gas attacks along the Western front.
Wallace said the park is filled with Canadian plants and grass. There are huge maple trees growing there next to the statue of the Brooding Soldier – which is pictured on veteran licence plates today.
“We were all just struck by how incredible it was that — at that point — almost a hundred years later, Belgium was keeping up this absolutely beautiful site in remembrance and in thank-you to the Canadian troops for what they had done in that battle”
Monday marked the 100 year anniversary that Canada entered the First World War.
The full interview with Wallace on JGL can be heard here.
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