As Victoria remembers Vimy 100, man wonders if father fought in iconic battle

As Victoria remembers Vimy 100, man wonders if father fought in iconic battle

WATCH: April 9, 2017 marks 100 years since the iconic Battle of Vimy Ridge. Hundreds gathered at the Bay Street Armoury to honour those who served. Isabelle Raghem reports. 

People in Victoria came together Sunday to remember the sacrifices of soldiers during the Battle of Vimy Ridge 100 years ago.

It was the first time the four Canadian divisions fought together as a unified force.

“It was part of the shedding of bonds of colonialism, so it was part of the coming of age for Canada,. Even though it was a military event that happened in a far off place, it was very symbolic,” explains Lt. Col. Stephen Sawyer of the Canadian Scottish Regiment. 

The victory in Vimy costing the lives of nearly 3,600 Canadians and wounding more than 7,000.

“WWI is just, it was so awful,” says John Azar of the Western Front Association, “But the dedication of the people who went to serve is what my personal interest is in. The dedication and sacrifice for something bigger than themselves.”

This day hits close to home for Ken Thornsteinson, who’s adoptive father served in WWI. 

He brought a photo of his parents taken in 1917.

He was one of many who brought in photographs and letters to the Bay Street Armoury Sunday, as an expert of military research helped those who were looking for more answers about their ancestors.

Thornsteinspn has many unanswered questions.

“[I] known nothing [of] where he served, not knowing if he served in Vimy, or not,” he explains, “”really, I didn’t know him for that long so I just want to find out what his life was way before he saw me.”

“There’s lots of touching stories,” explains Steve Clifford of ‘Doing Our Bit‘ Military and Family History Research , “the first world war is numbing in his horror and people feel it’s intimidating. So as soon as you look at war through a personal story, remembrance day will mean a lot more when you can connect with a particular individual.”

Since 2014, Clifford says the government has been digitizing information to make it easier for Canadians to discover their roots, but unfortunately for Thornsteinson, his father’s information has not yet been transferred.

“There’s 630-thousand files to digitize, so in his case, his surname started with a “t”, so it happens it wasn’t been digitized yet but it will be by this time next year,” says Clifford. 


Something Ken Thornsteinson says is worth the wait. 

Isabelle RaghemIsabelle Raghem

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