Minister of Veterans Affairs visits grave of last Canadian soldier killed in action during First World War
Zonnebeke, Belgium – The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, today announced Government of Canada support for the creation of a Canadian Remembrance Trail in Belgium by the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917. The Remembrance Trail will focus on the sacrifices made by Canadians in Europe during the First World War.
Today’s announcement follows yesterday’s international ceremonies in Belgium marking the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, and the official launch of Canada’s World Wars Commemoration period.
While in Belgium, Minister Fantino also visited Tyne Cot Cemetery, and St. Symphorien Cemetery where Private George Price – believed to be the last Canadian soldier killed in action during the First World War – is buried. Minister Fantino was accompanied by Canadian Ambassador Denis Robert and Private Price’s nephew, Mr. George Barkhouse of Canning, Nova Scotia.
- The Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 will receive $160,000 in funding over the next three years for the Canadian Remembrance Trail project through Veterans Affairs Canada’s Community Engagement Partnership Fund.
- The Ypres Salient, including the towns of Ypres and Passchendaele, was the scene of several First World War battles, including the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, which saw more than 4,000 Canadians killed and almost 12,000 wounded.
- Private George Price died near Mons, Belgium on November 11, 1918, about two minutes before the armistice came into effect.
- In May 1915, during the Second Battle of Ypres, Dr. John McCrae penned the famous poem In Flanders Fields. Almost 100 years later, the poem and poppy remain prominent Remembrance Day symbols throughout Commonwealth nations.
- Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world in terms of burials with graves and memorials commemorating almost 12,000 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War.
“The soldiers who fought in the Ypres area of Belgium were among the more than 650,000 Canadians who served in uniform during the First World War. Our Government is proud to partner with the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 to ensure that our military’s brave stories of service, sacrifice, and heroism are told.” ~ The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs
“Every year increasing numbers of Canadian visitors come to Belgium to find out more about the tragic events that took place in Flanders in the Autumn of 1917. The Battle of Passchendaele and the Second Battle of Ypres are of utmost importance to the Canadian national identity but, until now, those searching for Canadian-related sites had few points to start from. With the support of the Government of Canada, we will now be able to provide visitors with a uniquely Canadian experience of history.” ~ Steven Vandenbussche, Curator, Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917