Donation Brings King Edward VIII’s Vimy Pilgrimage Badge to Canadian War Museum
Painting by French artist Georges Bertin Scott of King Edward VIII
at the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial.
Few events in Canadian history are as rich in symbolic meaning as the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
In early April 1917, twenty thousand Canadian soldiers captured the strategic and fiercely defended Vimy Ridge in northern France. This remarkable victory marked the first time that all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, made up of troops from all parts of the country, had fought together. It has been described as Canada’s “coming of age” on the world stage and is a potent symbol of Canadian achievement and sacrifice—almost 4,000 Canadian soldiers lost their lives.
Now, thanks to the generosity of the Montréal-based Vimy Foundation, the Canadian War Museum has acquired a unique artifact—the gold commemorative badge worn by King Edward VIII at the unveiling of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial on the Vimy battlefield on July 26, 1936.
The ceremony was attended by thousands of Canadian veterans and their families, all wearing silver-plated commemorative badges. For them, the presence of the King, and his wearing of the gold version of the badge, was a mark of deep respect and regard for Canadian soldiers.
A Donation All Canadians Can Share
“The Vimy Foundation’s donation is a wonderful example of civic contribution and pride,” says Eric Fernberg, the Canadian War Museum’s Collections Manager, Dress and Insignia. “Their generosity has made it possible for us to share the King’s badge with all Canadians. It’s an especially resonant donation because the Museum also has on permanent display a wonderful painting by French artist Georges Bertin Scott of King Edward VIII at the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial.”
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- Vimy Pilgrimage Badge
CMCC Welcomes New Executive Director of Development
Robert Ryan has 18 years of experience in fundraising for non-profit organizations, including the University of Ottawa, CARE Canada and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in the U.S. Originally from Rhode Island, he followed his heart to Ottawa in 1993 and became a Canadian citizen in 1996.
Mr. Ryan discussed his new role as the Museums’ chief fundraiser in a recent conversation with Kudos.
Q: What appealed to you about this position?
A: I’ve always greatly admired the Civilization and War Museums for how they help Canadians understand this wonderful country and its history. Their collections are an incredible national treasure. They really do bring our history to life and preserve it for the future like nothing else ever could. So I was very excited by the opportunity to work here. I am eternally grateful that I became a citizen, and I think what these Museums represent — what they mean for our very identity as a peoplenbsp;— is very special.
Q: How important is fundraising to the Museums?
A: It’s critical. For example, without the support of donors and sponsors, the Museums simply could not run their educational programs for children and youth, and they would not be able to acquire important artifacts that truly belong in our National Collections.
Q: What’s your top priority?
A: Thousands of Canadians give very generously to the Museums, but I’m certain that we can broaden that base. We can also offer unique opportunities for corporate sponsors, especially in conjunction with exhibitions. So I’m very optimistic about the future of our fundraising.
A Towering Portrait of Quebec’s Past
Step into the Southern Salon on level one of the Canadian Museum of Civilization and you’ll be stopped in your tracks. Towering above you is a three-storey-high (15-metre) mural vividly depicting the history of Quebec.
Commissioned in 1957 by the British American Oil Company for the foyer of its Montréal building, the elegant, highly stylized work was designed by Thor Hansen, an important figure in the history of Canadian design and folk art, and painted on canvas by distinguished Montréal artist Umberto Bruni.
The mural has found a permanent home in the Museum thanks to the generosity of Holcim Canada, a leading producer and supplier of products and services for the construction industry. When Holcim Canada sold the building that housed the mural in 2009, employees encouraged the company to donate the mural to the Museum. Holcim Canada went even further—it also generously donated $56,000 to help restore and install the mural at the Museum where it will continue to inspire and inform viewers for many generations to come.
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- Holcim Canada
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Thousands of Southern Ontario Artifacts to be safeguarded by the Museum
Thousands of artifacts from three archaeological sites in southern Ontario will now be available to Canadians thanks to the coordination of Dr. Ronald Williamson, founder of Archaeological Services Inc., Ontario’s largest archaeological consulting firm.
The three archaeological sites are: a Palaeo-Indian campsite (the Mount Albion West Site near Hamilton) dating from the earliest stage of human settlement in southern Ontario; the former residence of a major Loyalist military leader and Indian agent (the Butler Site near Niagara-on-the-Lake); and a surprisingly large Huron village (the Mantle Site in Whitchurch-Stouffville, north-east of Toronto) occupied just before the arrival of Europeans.
These artifacts—which include worked stone tools, pottery and other pre-contact Aboriginal artifacts, military buttons and fragments of the fine china used by the upper classes of early Ontario—will now be available to museums, scholars, First Nations and communities across Canada.
Dr. Williamson supervised excavation of all three sites, which he considers the most nationally significant of the hundreds he has excavated in Ontario.
“It’s an extraordinary wealth of artifacts,” said Jean-Luc Pilon, Curator of Ontario Archaeology at the Museum of Civilization. “It’s exciting that they will be widely available to help Canadians gain a fuller understanding of Ontario’s rich legacy.”
- Learn more >
- The Archaeology of Ontario
- Archaeological Services Inc.
- Mount Albion West—Report (PDF file)
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- Southern Ontario Artifacts
Make Your Mark — Become a Donor!
Donate to the Museums and your generosity will bear fruit for generations to come. You’ll by ensuring that Canada’s past remains a vital part of our lives today and tomorrow.
To learn about our many donation options go to www.warmuseum.ca/donate or call us at 1-800-256-6031.