VOLC’s Missions Accomplished
Mission #1: Repatriate Oak Trees to Vimy Ridge
On November 9, 2018, two days before the 100th Anniversary of the First World War Armistice, the landscaped Vimy Foundation Centennial Park was officially opened showcasing 120 of VOLC’s Vimy Oak saplings on land north of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. 415 saplings were germinated in France from Vimy acorns by our partner L’Orme Montferrat Nursery. VOLC also donated 170 saplings to the French Office National des Forêts (“ONF”). ONF planted them along an allée leading south of the Vimy Memorial and dedicated them, also on November 9, 2018. The allée was named “Road of Canadian Memories”. Excess saplings were donated to four towns along the eight kilometer long Ridge: Givenchy en Gohelle, Souchez , Thélus and Villiers Aux Bois. Leslie Miller recorded in his diary visiting the ruins of these towns after the Vimy Ridge battle to set up wireless listening posts.
The project had its challenges. The removal of unexploded ordnance (“UXO”) still buried on the site of what is now Centennial Park proved especially difficult but had to be done to allow for the safe digging of wall and walkway foundations and holes for planting the trees. After the Park’s opening, the saplings had to be dug up and replanted due to an error in following our specified planting procedure by the contractor. Then, a week later, most of the newly re-planted saplings were blown over by a once-in-fifty-year wind storm as they had not yet been wind-staked. Remarkably, one year later all but twelve of the trees survived the early mistakes. The twelve were replaced by nursery backup. Now we can declare “the Repatriation Mission has been accomplished.” Leslie Miller’s Vimy Oaks are growing on Vimy Ridge.
The project was accomplished in partnership with the Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church, owner of the Vimy Oaks woodlot and supplier of the acorns, and The Vimy Foundation (“TVF”). TVF, a registered charity working to preserve and promote Canada’s ongoing legacy of leadership as symbolized by the First World War victory at Vimy Ridge, financed the construction of the Centennial Park. Many volunteers from both Canada and France embraced our cause and contributed to the project execution, deploying diverse areas of expertise. These included forestry and horticultural, landscape architecture, project planning and cost engineering, UXO removal, legal, media, government and public relations, treasury and finance, federal and local government advocacy, website design and development and artwork by Canadian Artist Glen Loates for our logo and honorarium prints. To see all who volunteered, go to the "Who are the VOLC" tab of this website.
Mission #2: Distribute Oak Trees to Commemorative and Private Locations across Canada
VOLC partnered with NVK Nurseries in growing saplings from both Vimy Oak graftings and acorns. Starting in 2017, these saplings were offered for sale in Canada to organizations that were committed to planting them at commemorative sites such as cenotaphs, town squares, memorial sites and parks, heritage sites, schools, military cemeteries, Royal Canadian Legions and to TVF for sales to gain charitable donations. Then, beginning in 2018, VOLC also offered Vimy Oak saplings for sale to be planted at private sites throughout Canada. All trees were sold at a price to cover nursery and shipping costs and an administrative fee that paid for growing and planting Vimy Oak saplings in France. A special donation of 50 saplings was made to The Canadian Highway of Heroes for which we waived the administrative fee. As of May 2019, trees were no longer offered to new applicants. A limited number were reserved for donations to The Vimy Foundation. The remaining inventory of saplings was reserved for not yet delivered but committed sales orders and backup to cover die-off. Total sales reached 1,000 trees covering every province in Canada. “Mission Accomplished!”
VOLC will be closing down operations in 2020 but the website will stay alive to tell our story. Any surplus funds from tree sales will be donated to The Vimy Foundation to go towards annual maintenance of the Centennial Park in France.