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Experience Vimy – Expert Group Activity


To provide a general overview of the Battle of Vimy Ridge during the First World War, as well the Canadian National Vimy Memorial and the Vimy Ridge National Historic site to remember the sacrifices and military achievements made by Canadians.


Youth will be expected to:

  • demonstrate a basic understanding of the key aspects of Canada’s participation in the First World War and the Battle of Vimy Ridge; and
  • develop an awareness of the various symbols, tunnels, and trenches within the Vimy Ridge National Historic site in France; and
  • develop an awareness of the architecture of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, and the meaning and significance of the statues.

Target Audience

This activity is suitable for ages 12 to 18.

Sequence of Events and Anticipated Time Frame [60 minutes]

(This activity can be modified to fit available time.)

  • Introductory discussion [15 minutes]
  • Expert group research [20 minutes]
  • Presentations [25 minutes]
  • Possible extension activities [variable]


Introductory Discussion [15 minutes]

The First World War began on August 4, 1914. Ask your students what they know about this major event that took place more than 100 years ago, changing the world and Canada in many ways. You may want to use 10 Quick Facts on... The First World War, to help with the discussion.

Ask students to talk about prior knowledge, movies they have seen, books they have read, websites they have visited or songs they have heard pertaining to the First World War. Are they aware that Canada played a role in the war? Do they have relatives that served in the First World War?

Tell your students that the lesson will focus on the efforts and sacrifices of Canadians at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April, 1917, a century ago.

Share that special events and ceremonies will mark this important milestone, in Canada and in France. Even though there are no Veterans from that battle alive today, Canadians still remember those who served and sacrificed in the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

War memorials following the First World War were created by various communities according to decisions made by local committees. There were no guidelines about what design a memorial should take. This led to a wide range of designs, and it is why the Canadian National Vimy Memorial is such an important part of Canadian heritage. It provides us with an understanding of the feelings, grief and pride of the Canadian people after the tragic battle during the First World War.

Expert groups research [20 minutes]

Using a map, have students locate France and the village of Arras.

Divide students into groups and assign them to different Toggle Hotspots within Experience Vimy. For example, groups could be:

  1. Left towering pylon
  2. Right towering pylon
  3. Base of Monument including The Tomb
  4. History of the Battle of Vimy Ridge
  5. Architecture and Construction
  6. Earlier Monuments
  7. National Historic Site 

Students can visit their assigned Toggle Hotspots, view the links and image galleries and access any further information online. They will read up and prepare a short presentation about that particular Hot Spot, recognizing the reason the Monument is there, what it symbolizes, design features, etc. 

Presentations [20 minutes]

After the research is complete, each group will become an “expert” on their assigned station, and can share their knowledge with their peers through short presentations. After the presentations, each expert group will have taught the class about their Toggle Hot Spot, and youth will know more about the Canadian National Vimy Memorial and the Battle of Vimy Ridge. 

Possible extension activities

You could present the video Canada and the Great War 1914-1918: A Nation Born (20 minutes), on Canada’s involvement in the First World War. Following the video, have youth engage in discussions of specific themes and topics pertaining to the “Great War” and Canada’s involvement in the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Another extension activity could involve planning an imaginary commemorative trip to Europe where students choose which remembrance-related sites they would like to visit, for both First and Second World War. This could inspire future real-life travel plans!


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