The Vimy Park Education Centre was opened to the public on 10th April 2017. It was realised by the Vimy Foundation through appeals to the public for funding. The shortfall of Cdn $5 million was made up by the government of Canada.
The centre is located on the right as you enter the Memorial Park from Neuville Saint Vaast at the junction with the road towards Vimy village.
It is situated in what would have been the 3rd Canadian Division’s area on 9th April 1917.
There is parking space for cars and coaches. Toilets are available within the complex (others are available up near the monument).
Picnic tables are available but food and drinks are limited to some vending machines within the building — bring your own ! At the reception desk you will also find a small selection of books and souvenir items on sale.
Note that the car park entrance closes about half an hour before the centre does.
|11:00 to 17:00 hours||11h00 à 17h00|
|Tuesday to Sunday||Mardi — Dimanche|
|09:00 to 17:00 hours||09h00 à 17h00|
|Guided visits||Visites guidée|
|English/Français||Ask at the desk/demandez à l’accueil
Duration/Durée: 45 minutes
The design of the centre ensure that whilst the visitor can gain a better understanding of Canada’s part in the war they are never far removed from the battle site itself.
Floor to ceiling windows offer a view of the trenches and the pockmarked ground created by the shelling. Tours of the tunnels, in either French or English, can be organised with the guides at the reception desk.
The conception of the exhibits is based upon the idea of : We will remember.
Among the themes explored are :
Probably the highlight for most people is going to be the ability to visit the reconstructed trench systems amidst the craters. This can be done with or without a visit to the tunnels.
The preservation has been achieved by using sandbags filled with concrete and concrete duck boards. This does give an air of artificiality to the system, but even so, it is still more than possible to allow the imagination to reign and consider life amidst the falling shells and exploding mines. The hessian cloth has rotted away but if you look at the sandbags you can, often as not, make out the pattern of the material on the concrete shell.
The distance from one trench system to the other is frighteningly small in many places, and snipers would have been able to make out targets with deadly ease.
It should be noted that these trenches represent the forward posts for both sides. The front lines were further back — in the case of the Canadians, in the area of the centre’s car park
There are three cemeteries on or close to the site :
There are four memorials on or close to the site :