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RAC remembers the Battle of Vimy Ridge

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) is today commemorating the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and acknowledging the contribution of Canada’s railway industry during the First World War effort. RAC is marking this pivotal event as part of its 100thanniversary celebrations happening throughout 2017.

Canadian railway workers build tracks through captured territory during the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917. Credit: Department of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada

“Like our railway industry, the Battle of Vimy Ridge helped to define Canada,” said RAC President and CEO Michael Bourque. “Logistics wins wars and the efficient and timely deployment of men and equipment by rail contributed to Canada’s capture of Vimy Ridge. Today we remember the sacrifices that Canada’s troops and railway workers made for the success of our war effort.”

The Battle of Vimy Ridge and the birth of Canada’s railway industry are distinctly Canadian feats that are central to the collective understanding of our country. Both accomplishments defined progress for Canada and stand as symbols of Canadian identity and unity.

In 1915, Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) organized the first battalion of Canadian Overseas Railway Construction Corps (CORCC) volunteers to help build, operate and maintain rail in Europe during battle. CORCC was the first group of the nearly 15,000 Canadian railway workers who served in the First World War. In addition to providing personnel, CP contributed equipment, lodging and financing to support the war effort.

Other units from Canada later joined the CORCC to create the Canadian Railway Troops, who arrived in France in late March 1917 and, within a matter of days, overcame destruction and severe weather to lay rail lines close to the front lines of Vimy Ridge. As Canadian forces advanced on April 9, 1917, the railway battalions constructed new lines behind them to carry supplies forward and to evacuate wounded soldiers. Within a week of the initial attack, trains were running to the top of Vimy Ridge.

The Railway Association of Canada was born out of the First World War effort. It was first established as the Special Committee on War and National Defence at a meeting of rail executives on Oct. 23, 1917 to ensure the efficient movement of troops and supplies during the war. Because the group was so successful in advancing the interests of railways in Canada, it continued its work beyond the war. The committee was renamed the Railway Association of Canada in 1919, and was formally incorporated in 1953.



Alex Paterson
Public Affair Coordinator

About the Railway Association of Canada

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) represents more than 50 freight and passenger railway companies that move close to 82 million passengers and more than $280 billion worth of goods in Canada each year. The RAC advocates on behalf of its members and associate members to ensure that the rail sector remains globally competitive, sustainable, and most importantly, safe. Learn more at railcandev.wpengine.com. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.