Issued 100 years after Canada’s courageous soldiers launched an assault on a daunting escarpment held by the Germans near the French town of Vimy, these stamps recognize the service and sacrifice of the Canadian Corps in the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
The four-day battle, which began at 5:30 am on April 9, 1917, is considered by many to be a defining moment in Canadian history. Fighting together for the first time, Canada’s four divisions waged a carefully planned and fearlessly executed uphill battle. The capture of the heavily fortified, seven-kilometre-long ridge won the Canadians international respect and helped define Canada as a strong, independent nation. It also cost the young country dearly, with nearly 3,600 killed and more than 7,000 wounded.
To recognize this important battle in Canada and France, this issue includes two stamps – one designed by each country. Together on joint souvenir sheets, the two designs are linked by different portrayals of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.
Meeting the challenge of “telling the whole story on such a small scale,” Canadian stamp designer Susan Scott combined the monument’s awe-inspiring twin pillars, which symbolize the two nations, with a reminder of the tragic, human toll – the solemn list of 11,285 Canadians who died in France during the First World War and had no known grave.
"The size of the monument and its masterfully carved statues are impressive, but I find the most moving part is the thousands of names inscribed into the limestone."
Susan Scott, Canadian stamp designer.
The French stamp (image below) focuses on one of the most poignant statues at the site, a cloaked woman. Representing a country in mourning, “Canada Bereft” gazes down at a symbolic tomb at her feet and overlooks the French countryside where Canadians fought for peace and sacrificed for freedom.