AudioConexus, in partnership with the Hill 70 Memorial Project, organized an educational event to raise awareness of the Hill 70 Memorial, a multi-million dollar, multi-faceted project that has two main goals: erect and maintain a monument, and educate Canadians of the battle’s importance in our history.
The event, held at AudioConexus offices in Kingston, Ontario, welcomed national spokesperson for the project, heavily decorated astronaut, engineer, and pilot, Colonel Chris Hadfield.
Hadfield, who had two relatives who both fought in the Canadian Corps: a grandfather and great uncle, talked about the importance of educating all Canadians present and future about this crucial victory and its lasting influence on European and Canadian history.
Acclaimed for making outer space accessible to millions, and for infusing a sense of wonder into our collective consciousness not felt since humanity first walked on the Moon, Colonel Hadfield continues to bring the marvels of science and space travel to everyone he encounters.
“It was a great honour and privilege to have Colonel Chris Hadfield and the Hill 70 Board of Directors at our office for this important event. These are remarkable people who have tirelessly volunteered their time to achieve a momentous vision – to erect a Monument in France to honour the memory of the Canadian Soldiers who fought and died for Victory at Hill 70,” said Jonathan Stanley, President & CEO, AudioConexus. “We are proud to contribute in a very small way to this very important project.”
The Board of Directors includes Mark Hutchings, Chair; Dr. John S. Cowan, Vice-Chair; Warren Everett, Comptroller; Douglas Green, Project Management; Arthur Jordan, Chief of Staff; David Parker, Treasurer, all Kingston residents.
Audio vignettes will be available on the site in France. Kingstonian and Actor Dan Aykroyd in support of the Hill 70 Memorial Project provided the primary narration for the visitor experience, and plans are underway for multi-language tours.
Why Hill 70?
There is a slight ridge of land in northern France where 100,000 Canadian soldiers succeeded in the First War where others had repeatedly failed. They did it their way, under a Canadian general who rejected the British plan of attack. Instead, the Canadians chose their destiny during that terrible struggle for Hill 70 over ten days in August 1917, which cost more than 1500 of them their lives. They showed the world their determined character as a people and their formidable perseverance as fighters, beating back 21 counterattacks by German forces desperate to regain the high ground, and earning more Victoria Crosses than in any other Canadian battle of the First War to date.
Yet there was no monument at the site near the town of Loos, France, to commemorate this battle – so important for the Allied war effort and Canada’s sense of emerging nationhood. It was an oversight noted by the commander at Hill 70, General Arthur Currie, to the end of his life.
To right this wrong – to honour and acknowledge the accomplishments and sacrifice of the Canadian Corps – a growing group of determined volunteers has been quietly working since 2012, both to erect a monument and educate Canadians by sharing Education Kits with schools across the country.
The Hill 70 Monument
A monument to the memory of the Canadian Soldiers who fought and died for Victory at Hill 70 opened to the public in August 2017.
The Memorial Park is about four hectares in size; the centrepiece is an imposing obelisk that rises some 21 metres over a large amphitheatre, signifying the victory of the Canadian Corps at the Battle of Hill 70.
Set into the Obelisk is the sword of sacrifice and the words: CANADA 1917. The tapered portion at the top is the height of an average Canadian soldier and represents all the soldiers of the Canadian Corps who fought throughout the First World War.
In the park, many maple trees honour the soldiers who died. Paved pathways and plazas encourage the visitor to reflect on the enormity of the sacrifice the Canadian soldiers made in World War I.
The Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery located to the southwest of the Memorial Site, The Loos British Cemetery, was started by Canadian Corps in July 1917 and hundreds of the soldiers who died capturing Hill 70 rest in this cemetery.
For more information on Canada’s Forgotten Victory, please visit the Hill 70 website.
About Colonel Chris Hadfield
Referred to as “the most famous astronaut since Neil Armstrong,” Colonel Chris Hadfield is a worldwide sensation whose video of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” – seen by over 75 million people online — was called “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created,” by Bowie himself.
In 1992, Colonel Hadfield was selected as a NASA Mission Specialist, and three years later he was aboard the Shuttle Atlantis, where he helped build the Mir space station. In 2001, on Shuttle Endeavour, Colonel Hadfield performed two spacewalks, and in 2013, he became Commander of the International Space Station for six months off planet.
A heavily decorated astronaut, engineer, and pilot, Colonel Hadfield’s many awards include the Order of Canada, the Meritorious Service Cross, and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. He was named the Top Test Pilot in both the US Air Force and the US Navy and was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.
Colonel Hadfield is the author of three internationally bestselling books, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, You Are Here, and his children’s book, The Darkest Dark. Additionally, he released his musical album, Space Sessions: Songs From a Tin Can, in 2015. He is also featured on Ted.com for his talk, What I Learned from Going Blind in Space.
Currently, Colonel Hadfield can be seen as the co-creator and host of the internationally acclaimed BBC series Astronauts, and he is co-hosting, with actor Will Smith, the National Geographic series One Strange Rock, directed by Darren Aronofsky.
Colonel Hadfield is also the producer of the celebrated Rare Earth series on YouTube, and the creator of the on-stage celebration Generator, which combines science, comedy, and music for sold-out audiences.
Additionally, Colonel Hadfield is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Waterloo.
Featured image of Colonel Chris Hadfield courtesy of NASA.