Megan Hudson meets a Beefeater
Vincent Massey Canadian Battlefield and
Monuments Tour of Europe
It was a ten day whirlwind of travel, tour, history, food,
and culture! Over 43 Massey students had
the experience of a lifetime from March 6th to March 15th,
2014 while partaking in Vincent Massey’s 4th Canadian Battlefield
and Monuments Tour of Europe.
Expectations were high but
nonetheless exceeded, as students, teachers, and chaperones wasted no time in
making their mark on their first destination, Paris, France! Immediately following the long plane ride and
a speedy recuperation, our Mustang group lived up to their name as they raced
along to tour Le Louvre, the world’s largest art museum! Following a scenic and calming walk down the Seine
to the Latin Quarter for a delicious dinner, they began to recharge for the
remainder of the fun-filled tour!
The history, sites, and culture of
Paris, France were further absorbed by all on the third day into their travels. Students,
teachers, and chaperones toured the entire city, saw what the downtown had to
offer, and visited Versailles. Complete
with a roasted chicken dinner in an ancient bistro, they were ready to move on
to Normandy the next day, where the history of Canadian bravery and sacrifice
in the name of freedom awaited to be explored.
In Normandy, our students were able
to visit Arromanches, the famous mulberry harbour D-Day site on Gold Beach. This was followed up by a tour of a rich
museum exhibiting the historic events of 1944, and Juno Beach, home to a
Canadian Exhibit Centre. Special meaning
was present during the visit to the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian Military Cemetery,
where one of our students, Jessie McGinnis had an opportunity to pay her
respects to her Great-Great Uncle Thomas Hall, who had been killed in action.
From the events of 1944 on day four
to 1942 on day number five, our students learned of the tragic Dieppe Raid,
with 2500 Canadian casualties. They also
visited a Canadian cemetery, along with a Commonwealth cemetery Beauval, where
Mr. Frye paid his respects to his Great Uncle Manley Fraleigh. Students also had the rare opportunity to tour
Red Beach, were the Essex Scottish Regiment had landed, and, finally, saw Beaumont
Hamel, where over 700 Newfoundlanders were killed or wounded in less than one
hour on July 1st, 1916.
Pretty cities, historic events, and
monuments spilled on into day six, where trenches and tunnels were pilgrimaged
at Vimy Ridge. The Tyne Cot Cemetery,
one the largest Commonwealth gravesites in the area, was also visited in the
town of Ypres, Belgium.
Finishing off the tour of France with a stroll in the large
square of Lille, our students were ready to cross the Chanel from Calais to
Dover, crossing into England from France!
In England, our group had an exciting morning of boarding a ship,
visiting Canterbury and the historic cathedral, and, of course, driving on the
wrong side of the road! The Mustang
invasion then continued on into London, where our Massey mascots toured the
city; saw the Churchill Cabinet Rooms, and viewed the National Gallery’s painting
The last day of London was finished
off with a divide and conquer of the city, with visits to Abbey Road, 221B
Baker Street, the warship Belfast, Westminster Abbey, and scaling the heights
of Tower Bridge! After a final flight on
the London Eye, the Mustang adventure was complete! Throughout the entire tour, our staff and
students maintained their excitement with composure and grace, and showed
themselves to be wonderful ambassadors of our school, community, and
Everyday we are surrounded by the
effects of our history and the mark it has made on our world. In our hectic, technical, and modern lives,
we can often forget the significance and lasting effect of events which have occurred
seemingly a world away from us. The rare
opportunity to tour Europe together with their peers has provided our students with
the insight that Canadians have made an international impact on the world in
many ways. While appreciating the beauty
of other cultures and places abroad, they have also come to recognize that we
share a common history and bond within our experiences in the world, which we
share and have sacrificed for together with others. In
taking these experiences and lessons learned home, our students carry our own
traditions, history, and culture within themselves. Through them, our place in the world will
continue to be strengthened and live on.
Many thanks to Mr. Garlick for organizing the trip, and to the many
chaperones who helped make such an amazing opportunity possible!
Students at Canada gate in front of Buckingham Palace.
Guthries at our last restaurant in London.
The original Dieppe Memorial.
Mustangs at the Louvre.
On going restoration work at Tyne Cot Commonwealth Cemetery.
Entrance to the Tower of London.
At the base of the London Eye.
Trenches at Vimy Ridge