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Borden’s past brought back to life with restored training trenches

December 2019

When the Canadian Army established Camp Borden, north of Toronto, in 1916, it was to train recruits for the battlefields of Europe. Approximately 350, 000 soldiers trained at the camp built among the sand dunes in Simcoe County.

As trench warfare was how much of the war was being fought at that point, a series of training trenches were built, stretching about 11 miles around the camp. Many of the soldiers who trained in these trenches would go on to fight in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

The trenches fell into disuse after the war ended and over time, what remained of the trenches became just a series of shallow ruts snaking through the pine forest at the north end of the camp.

In November 2011, a small section of the WWI training trenches were restored as a part of the camp’s impending centennial celebrations.

A small section of the old trench in the north-east corner of the camp was we carefully dug-out by hand, then composite boards resembling the type used during World War I were put up to brace the walls, and then sandbags were placed along the top.  Flag-posts and historical plaques were put in place telling the story of the training trenches.

In June 2016, the Borden Legacy Monument is unveiled just outside the north gate of Borden, coinciding with the celebration of Camp/Base Borden’s 100 years of training military personnel. Connected by a foot path to the restored training trenches a short distance away, the monument features two black granite walls, one that contains an urn filled with soil from the battlefield of Vimy Ridge, representing the DNA of Canadian soldiers killed in the battle.

The statue of a First World War bugler stands beside the walls and a berm directly behind the granite walls is meant to represent Vimy Ridge itself.

Together, the restored WWI trenches and the Legacy Monument serve to honour Camp Borden and the brave soldiers who trained here for the Great War, some of whom never returned.

Also see: https://militarybruce.com/borden-legacy-monument

Sources: https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/2057200-borden-unearths-training-trenches.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/bordens-past-brought-back-to-life-with-restored-training-trenches/

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