BROOKLYN, N.S. – From a battlefield in France to a park in Ontario, and now in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia, a sapling with roots that can be traced back to the Battle of Vimy Ridge is now a permanent fixture of the Brooklyn Fire Department’s grounds.
The young oak tree, descended from an oak that was brought to Canada as an acorn, was planted on Oct. 22 with the help of local politicians, volunteer firefighters and Royal Canadian Legion members.
Chick Martin, veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force, said the new oak tree is an important symbol of remembrance.
“Canada was only 50 years old (during the Battle of Vimy Ridge) and we didn’t have much of an army at that time,” Martin said before the planting. “The French tried to capture Vimy Ridge from the Germans and were totally defeated. The Canadians took it on, were told they had to do it, and they captured Vimy Ridge from the Germans.”
During that battle, all of the oak trees that were there were “completely blown to pieces,” he said.
“A soldier by the name of Leslie Miller of Scarborough, Ontario gathered a bunch of acorns and sent them home. His parents planted them in a park.”
The tree planted in Brooklyn is a sapling of one of those trees from a park now known as The Vimy Oaks.
The sapling came with a certificate of authenticity, confirming the origins of the sapling.
“The importance of all of this, in my opinion, it would have been unthinkable what would have happened if we lost the war,” Martin said. “What would have become of our great country?”
Harold McKay, a young student from Brooklyn, died at the battle of Vimy Ridge at the age of 19.
He was one of the 3,598 Canadians killed in that battle.
West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian said he was happy to be part of the ceremony.
“It’s a symbol of our history and what better place to have it than a place we’re very proud of, our fire department?” Zebian said. “I hope that people will come here, read up on it, and the history will be passed from one generation to the next.”
Brett Tetanish deputy fire chief with the Brooklyn Fire Department and George Pineo, volunteer member, said they were thrilled to have the tree on the grounds.
“It’s really nice for us, because we have the Remembrance ceremony for the area here, with the monument, and now we have another area where we can reflect specifically on Vimy Ridge,” Tetanish said. “At the same time, it’s going to help beautify our property here.”
Pineo added that it was a lasting memorial.
“You have so much to reflect on, comrades who have passed or have served with, it’s a very touching memorial,” he said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story said - Brett Tetanish and George Pineo, deputy chiefs with the Brooklyn Fire Department... George Pineo is a member of the Brooklyn Fire Department, but not a deputy chief. We regret the error.