Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The CBC wants you!

That is, if your great-grandfather helped take Vimy Ridge, or was one of the half-million Canadians who fought in the Great War.

Writer-director Brian McKenna is putting out the call for 300 volunteers willing to walk in their ancestors' footsteps, literally.

Story continues below advertisement

It's all part of a massive four-hour docu-drama project scheduled to air on CBC-TV in 2007 to mark the 90th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge.

McKenna (The Killing Ground, War at Sea) says he first got the idea when he saw his grandfather's kid brother's grave at Ypres, an emotional moment that set him on his career path of researching Canadian war history.

"And then finding his papers in the national records office at the Archives and seeing his signature. It was electrifying!"

He says anyone can log onto the National Archives website and trace their ancestors' war records. And so he wants to use the Internet for his own recruitment campaign. Anyone interested in participating in the project can sign up.

But it won't be a picnic.

Plans call for having some of the volunteers re-live the soldier experience next summer. They will be brought by train to Montreal, then overseas to England to take part in an authentic First World War boot camp, then onto the actual battlefields of France to participate in huge battle recreations, in effect walking through their ancestor's war.

McKenna envisages how the film will show a typical young volunteer being sent into the spooky tunnels that are still preserved at Vimy.

Story continues below advertisement

"He would go down, wearing the jeans and shoes of a kid today, and in the film he would come out of the tunnel in the middle of the battle as his great-grandfather."

Afterwards he would be taken right to the grave of his relative.

McKenna says he doesn't know the budget for the project, a collaboration between CBC and Montreal's Galafilm, but feels the need to bring the Canadian experience of the First World War into the present. He notes how historians call it our war of independence, one in which we sent more than 400,000 troops overseas and a staggering 60,000 of them were killed, with an agonizing impact on just about every family in the country.

And yet, he says, it seems so distant and remote now.

He's also gratified that Radio Canada is committed to the project, given the war's conscription crisis that severely divided the young nation.

"But the conscription story overshadows the fact that there were at least 15,000 French-speaking Quebecers who volunteered to go to war," he notes. "One of our greatest regiments, the Van Doos, the Royal 22nd Regiment, was created during the First World War."

Story continues below advertisement

But he says their story of courage and sacrifice remains basically untold in Canada and particularly in Quebec.

"I think they got excited about telling this story as well. That we have to move beyond the old things that have divided us and find new things that we went through together that might unite us."

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies