“The Friends of The Canadian Vimy Monument and Park” association was founded in April 1994 with the goal of perpetuating the memory of the participation of Canadian soldiers in the conquest of Vimy Ridge; to honor the memory of fallen soldiers during these heroic struggles; to participate with the administrative authorities in the beautification and maintenance of Canadian territory; and in general to take initiatives helping the Department of Veterans Affairs of Canada to honor the dead of the Great War through ceremonies.
The association aims to relay across generations the duty to commemorate, and to be a messenger of peace.
Our founding President is Jean-Pierre Gorny.
The Board of the association was constructed initially of 6 members including Mr. Jean-Pierre Gorny, Mr. Donald Browarski, Mr. Jean-Claude Segard, Mr. René Jacques, and Ms. Denise Alexandre. Over time others have replaced them, in particular Mr. Alexandre Dumont who was treasurer for a time.
The Board has since increased to 8 members, and is currently comprised of:
Mr. Philippe Martin, President
Mrs. Christine Dupayage, Treasurer
Mr. Michel Kreutz, Secretary General
Mr. Raymond Miklic, Vice-President
Mrs. Marie-Claude Delporte, Assistant Treasurer
Mrs. Anne Dubuc, Assistant Secretary, successor of her husband Fabrice, who became responsible for communication between the association and our Canadian friends
Mr. Christian Ramet
Mr. Marc Houriez
Philippe Martin was born in 1947 into a working-class family. At the age of 17, he entered working life in a notarial office as a Notary Clerk. In 1966 he completed his military service as a radio operator. Appointed Master Corporal, he was released from military service in 1967. Returning to civilian life, he resumed his professional activity in Vimy as a Notary Clerk, while continuing his studies with a view to becoming a fully certified Notary.
In 1976 he graduated as a Notary, a position he held at Vimy as an Assistant Notary until his retirement in 2007.
In 1982 he became President of Vimy Mutual Credit, a volunteer position he held for 25 years.
In 2004 following the departure of founding President Mr. Jean-Pierre Gorny, he was appointed President, a position he still holds today.
Mr. Martin is married with two children and three grand-children.
Reasons for his involvement in the association in his own words:
“As a child I was very attached to my maternal grandmother, who had lost her husband in 1916 during the Battle of Verdun. She harbored true reverence for her late husband. I always wished I had known him.
Also, for me the Great War has always been associated with the impact on my family (my mother was 5 years old and her brother 3 when my grandfather died), and I have always been drawn to the commemorations that reminded me of it.
Living in Vimy, it was only natural that I joined the association “The Friends of the Canadian Vimy Memorial and Park.”
A series of events led me to quickly become its secretary, then due to the departure of Mr. Gorny, its president.”
To achieve its objective, the association was authorized to sell souvenirs on the site of the Canadian Vimy Memorial relating to the events that took place there. This initiative was originally intended to be a side project, but it soon grew in scale and was deemed too important by the members of the board. It was thus delegated to be managed by the Morange-Candas company in return for the payment of an agreed-upon fee to the association.
All decisions are made in agreement with the successive Directors of the site.
In addition to the help that the association provides to the Guide program by helping to finance their well-being (accommodations, small appliances, etc.), the association “makes the monument bloom” (lays flowers on the monument) every week in April through November.
The association generally arranges and furnishes the receptions following the April 9th and November 11th ceremonies at the Memorial, as well as often participating during the commemoration ceremonies.
Some of our achievements to date:
– signage throughout the site
– bicycle parking
– flagpoles at the entrance to the site
Funding Provided For
– The installation of bollards that regulate the entry of vehicles to the rear of the monument
– The rental of an electric cart to facilitate the visit of people with reduced mobility (abandoned for lack of sufficient use)
– Buying a wheelchair for the same reasons
– The purchase of the mobile sound system and chairs for ceremonies
– A trip to Canada and an excursion to the Chemin des Dames (funded by association members)
– A concert in the church of Vimy with a neighboring town choir and the Somme Battlefield Pipe Band
– The presentation of the film “The Battle of Passchendaele” by Paul Gross
– A contest for children from Vimy schools regarding the origin of the monument
– The presentation of the play “Resistance” on the life of Louise de Bettignies
– Support for the arrival in France of the great-great-niece of Sergeant Gordon Rochford, originally from Manitoba, who died in action on April 9, 1917 after having saved his friend Earl Sorel. His story was discovered thanks to a letter from Earl Sorel to his friend’s sister and found by chance 102 years later.