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The Battle of Vimy Ridge

By: Jeff McClellan To: Mr. Ross

Although it operated with British oversight at Vimy Ridge, the Canadian led victory demonstrated to the world that Canada had become a sovereign nation. The victory at Vimy Ridge allowed Canada to finally gain solid control of their military. This may not seem like a momentous reward for such a gruesome battle, but it was the first time in history that a junior country was allowed to make decisions for their own military. It was all but unheard of for a country that wasnt sovereign to be able to decide their military actions. However since Canada, and Andrew Currie in particular, displayed such great skill at the battle, they were granted free reign when it came to their military decisions. Though the British still had control over Canadian troop movements and the battles that took place, Canada was still granted control over how they fought the battles. By 1918, the British retained little more than tactical command of the Canadian units in France... In military terms, if not yet in constitutional law, the war transformed Canada from a colony into a junior but sovereign ally.1 As stated in the quote, Canada had become a sovereign ally, and this was due to their exceptional fighting at Vimy Ridge. Secondly, due to their involvement at Vimy Ridge, and the war as a whole, Canada was given a separate signature on the treaty of Versailles. The treaty of Versailles signified the end of World War One. By having a signature separate from that of the British, Canada showed that they truly were a sovereign ally in the war. No other junior country was granted a signature, aside from Canada. Canadas WWI contributions, of which Vimy was the pinnacle, won for Canada a separate signature on the Versailles Peace Treaty, which ended the war.2 Thanks to Canadas bravery and tactical genius on the battle of Vimy Ridge, they were allowed to be a part of the treaty that ended the war, showing they
1 2

Desmond Morton, A Short History of Canada (Toronto: McCleland and Stewart, 1999) Nick Brune, Defining Canada: History, Identity, and Culture (Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson. 2003). 367

were in fact a sovereign nation. Finally, Canada was given two seats at the League of Nations. This showed that the rest of the world thought of Canada as a sovereign country, even if though they technically are not. The biggest accomplishment here is that Canada went into the war as a junior country, lead completely by Britain, but they left the war as their own country that makes its own decisions. Vimy Ridge was the battle that cemented the worlds views that Canada was in fact its own country, meaning Canadas sovereignty is due to the Battle of Vimy Ridge. It is a historical fact that Canada entered the war as a junior partner of Great Britain and emerged as an equal, her status confirmed when she, with the other Dominions, was given her own vote at the League of Nations3 At the end of the day Canada may not have technically been sovereign, but in the eyes of the Canadians, and the citizens of the rest of the world, they were truly sovereign due to their involvement at Vimy Ridge.

Pierre Berton, Vimy (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Ltd, 1986)