Monument at Base Borden gates will honour Canadian soldiers
SUBMITTED The entrance at CFB Borden is being re-designed to improve traffic flow and will include a memorial to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the base which is being created by Barrie Arts Award recipient, Marlene Hilton-Moore. A sketch of the memorial.
Canadians who have gone to war during the last century, and those who will go in the next one, will be honoured by a new monument at the Angus gate of Canadian Forces Base Borden.
“What I want to do is pay honour to the history to the people who served our country 100 years ago,” said Honourary Col. Jamie Massie, of the Borden Legacy Project. “And a 100 years from now I want soldiers to go through those gates and to be motivated and inspired by this monument.
“To me it's about being Canadian and serving the Canadian Forces.”
CFB Borden's 100th anniversary is 2016, when a century ago, the base was training soldiers for the First World War.
Massie, who spoke to Barrie city council Monday night about the legacy project, noted many of the Canadian troops who went overseas from 1916 until 1918 were trained at Borden – where the original training trenches were restored in 2011.
“You go look at these trenches and how they trained, their optimism about going there,” he said, “and then they show up there and ended up with these absolutely devastating conditions of battle.”
Many who trained at Borden also fought at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, April 9-12, 1917, when 15,000 Canadian infantry overran the Germans, but with a terrible toll – 3,598 soldiers killed and 7,000 wounded (Canadian War Museum, Tim Cook).
It was that battle which changed Canada from a British colony into a nation, as noted by Gen. Arthur Currie, commander of the Canadian Corps during the latter part of the war.
And Massie said it's only fitting that the monument contain Currie's words.
“To those who fall I say, 'You will not die, but step into immortality. Your mothers will not lament your fate, but will have been proud to have borne such sons. Your names will be revered for ever and ever by your grateful country, and God will take you unto Himself.'”
Massie also has a personal connection to Vimy Ridge. His grandfather fought there with the 48th Highlanders and lost his left leg during the battle
“He lay bleeding in the mud for 18 hours before they picked him up. Then they took him and they cut his leg off,” Massie said.
His father also trained at Borden and served in the Second World War.
The monument will include soil from the Vimy battlefield, with the French government's permission, that Massie himself will travel to France next June to collect along with other dignitaries.
“It (the soil) represents not just the DNA of those 3,500 who died and 7,000 wounded, but represents the repatriation of Canadian soldiers, who were lost and buried and forgotten,” said Massie. “To me the monument will inspire and motivate because we are living to the standard that Gen. Currie promised his troops, that we wouldn't forget them.”
The monument will be created by Marlene Hilton Moore, a local artist who creates public art with striking human figures and architectural forms, along with personal art in on-going exhibitions in galleries and museums.
Her Borden Legacy Project will include walls of highly polished black granite, wings of white granite and a First World War bugler. Beyond the bugler will be a contemplation area, nestled among maple trees and four, black, polished granite benches.
“The idea is to create a place where. . .you can have a very quiet and beautiful place to sit and contemplate the meaning of the monument,” Hilton Moore said.
“It will be a reflection point, a chance to think of how lucky we are to have the freedom that we have,” Massie said.
The monument will be paid for with privately donated funds, and Massie said most of the money has already been raised.
“This is an opportunity for our community to say thank you for 100 years,” he said. “All of these people have trained at the base and they have all done their part to bring us the freedom that we share, and we all live with freedom, we live with democracy and we have justice and rule of law, which is what makes us Canadian.”
Base Borden is also an economic driver in the community, with 950 soldiers who work at Base Borden that live in Barrie with their families.
On June 1, 2016 some of the Vimy soil will be left with Barrie's Cenotaph, when it's relocated in Memorial Square. The Vimy soil will then be marched back to Base Borden on a gun carriage.
The Borden Legacy Project will be unveiled in mid-June 2016, marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of CFB Borden.
Borden Legacy Project
- Why: 100th anniversary of founding
- Where: Angus gate, CFB Borden
- When: June, 2016
- How: private fundraising