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Vincent Massey Secondary School
Massey Europe Trip 2014
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 collection. 

            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 country.      

            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.

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Entrance to the Tower of London.


Tower Bridge.


Vimy Ridge.

At the base of the London Eye.


Vimy Ridge.

Trenches at Vimy Ridge


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Trafalger Square.