This Explanatory Note was written as a reader’s aid to Bill 19 and does not form part of the law. Bill 19 has been enacted as Chapter 3 of the Statutes of Ontario, 2010.
The Bill proclaims April 9 in each year as Vimy Ridge Day in commemoration of the battle during the First World War on that day in 1917.
An Act to proclaim Vimy Ridge Day
Assented to May 18, 2010
Vimy Ridge is a 14 kilometre long escarpment in France at which one of the most dramatic battles of the First World War (1914-1918) occurred on April 9, 1917. German forces took control of the ridge in October 1914. British and French forces repeatedly tried and failed to retake the ridge. It was Canadian forces that succeeded in doing so during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Four divisions or 100,000 Canadian men followed a creeping artillery barrage, an innovative tactic that was used by both sides of the war in later battles. Victory was secured but at the price of 3,598 Canadians killed and nearly 10,600 injured. It remains Canada’s bloodiest day.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge is widely regarded as a watershed moment in the evolution of Canada as an independent nation. The Battle marked the first time that Canadian Divisions fought together on the same battlefield under Canadian leadership to carry out a Canadian strategy.
In gratitude in 1922, France granted Canada perpetual use of a section of land at Vimy Ridge for the purpose of a battlefield park and memorial. A memorial consisting of two majestic towers of white limestone, 30 metres high, was erected in 1936. It commemorates all the Canadian soldiers killed during the First World War, known as the Great War.
It is important to remember the importance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge to Canada’s identity. In 2003, the Parliament of Canada passed the Vimy Ridge Day Act (Canada). It proclaims April 9 in each year as Vimy Ridge Day and requires that, on that day, the Canadian flag on the Peace Tower of the Parliament be lowered to half-mast. To ensure that Canadians continue to remember what we accomplished at Vimy Ridge, the Vimy Foundation has created a Vimy pin which shows the iconic towers of the memorial in front of a maple leaf and vertical colour bands representing the four Canadian divisions that fought in the Battle. The Vimy Foundation urges all Canadians to wear the pin on Vimy Ridge Day and the days leading up to it.
It is appropriate that the Province of Ontario recognize Vimy Ridge Day in a way similar to what the Parliament of Canada has done and encourage the efforts of the Vimy Foundation to make all Canadians aware of the importance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:
Vimy Ridge Day
1. April 9 in each year is proclaimed as Vimy Ridge Day.
Canadian flags at Assembly
2. All Canadian flags flown on the exterior of the Legislative Building and its adjoining premises shall be flown at half-mast on April 9 in each year.