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The Story is in the Wood!

“ As far as I could see, south, north along the ridge, there were the Canadians. And I experienced my first full sense of nationhood”. ~ ...

Thursday 27 October 2016

Finding the Flute

Monty with his anti squirrel
acorn protector AKA "The Snake"

After some networking, Stephen and I were able to connect with Monty.  I have to say that Monty is wonderful and very willing to help.  It made me very happy to hear Monty say this project was “a very appropriate commemoration project” and that he was willing to help us find the wood we needed to make the flutes.  Just yesterday Monty and Stephen spent 2.5 hours searching for the perfect wood for the flute and any extra acorns for the living memorial.  I have attached picture from their day to which I wish I could have been there, however living across the country is a bit of a barrier.  I am happy to say that the wood for the flute has been found.

The Flute from
the start

The Story is in the Wood!

As far as I could see, south, north along the ridge, there were the Canadians. And I experienced my first full sense of nationhood”.
~ Leftenant Gregory Clark, M.C.

Lt. Leslie Miller
April 9th, 1917 on Vimy Ridge, Lt. Clark was one of 150,000 Canadian soldiers who were starting to grasp the  significance of the battle they just fought.  It was the first major British victory in 32 months and more over, Vimy Ridge was believed to be an impossible objective to take.  As Lt. Clark looked across the ridge at his fellow Canadians I like to think that he may have unknowing seen another soldier, Lt. Leslie Miller, who was equally taken by the harrowing losses and their stunning achievement.  In an effort to capture the moment Lt. Miller found a buried oak tree (to this day there are no oak trees left on Vimy Ridge).  From this buried tree he collected a handful of acorns and sent them home to Canada to be planted on his farm in Scarborough.  I suspect that Lt. Miller could not have imagine that the simple act of collecting those acorns would reach across 100 years and become a medium for the future generations to honor the actions and sacrifice of the soldiers at Vimy and of the Great War. 

Lt. Miller's Vimy Oak
 Lt. Miller survived the war and returned to Scarborough Ontario, where he worked his farm which he aptly named “Vimy Oaks Farm”.  Here enters Monty McDonald (a man I am so grateful for as he has enabled my project to come alive).  As a young man Monty worked with Leslie Miller and the two mean formed a deep lifelong friendship.  In 1979 Lt. Leslie Miller passed away and to this day Monty has continued to care for the Vimy Oaks, which now are part of the wood lot at Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church.  Over the last few years Monty has been determined to ensure the legacy of these Vimy Oaks live on.  In order to do this Monty has become fundamental part of the Vimy Oak Foundation which collaborates with the Vimy Foundation (Check out this website for more info  http://www.vimyfoundation.ca/vimy-100/vimy-oaks/).  Together they are painstakingly taking one hundred saplings from the Vimy Oaks in Scarborough and planting a Centennial Park at Vimy Ridge.  The purpose of their project is to help preserve the legacy of Canada in World War One.  It’s a breathtaking and fitting living memorial with such a powerful story behind it.  (It is important to note there are many people involved in the Centennial Park/Vimy Oak project and I hope I can capture who they are at some point ).

Vimy Oak Saplings
Once I learned about the story of the Vimy Oaks I instantly knew that I had to try everything I could to get some of this wood for the flute to be made from.  The stories of Vimy and the personal connection to those soldiers lives in this Oak wood.  To make a flute from this wood and play the song amazing grace at Vimy Ridge is a humbling dream which will connect the past with present in a 100 year circle.  It is my hope that because this wood is so connected to Vimy, when it is played the song may reverberate from the Vimy Oak wood and reach out to all those who sacrificed so much and let them know we thank them, we honor them, and we remember them.