Many historians believe that Easter weekend 1917 marks the point at which Canada achieved real nationhood, as Canadian forces led the defeat of the Germans in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Now, in time for its 100th anniversary, the battle is being brought into the country’s classrooms in an entirely new way: a map of the First World War front large enough for an entire class to wander around on.
Canadian Geographic Education has more than 40 themed Giant Floor Maps for Canadian schools to borrow, from wildlife migration routes to satellite views of Canada from space. “But,” says Connie Wyatt Anderson, chair of Canadian Geographic Education, “this one is a first for us. It will encourage students to think about the role geography played during this pivotal moment in Canadian history.”
Not only that, but it’s also the first Giant Floor Map of Europe and the first based on historical maps (specifically, actual trench maps used during the First World War). Created out of a partnership between The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, the Government of Canada and documentary makers Sound Venture Productions, the map is tied in with the A Nation Soars film trilogy, about how aviation changed the course of the First World War and Canada.
Five of these maps are already criss-crossing Canada along with trunks filled with 10 lesson plans, props and other materials to help teach classes about the crucial role of maps and aviation in the First World War. Students will team up to construct three-dimensional models of Vimy Ridge; outline Allied and Central Power trenches and how they shifted throughout the battle; learn about the different types of soldiers in the trenches, their duties and how they lived; and locate and discuss how nearby towns, rivers and other features affected the battle.
Like all Can Geo Education Giant Floor Maps, the Vimy Ridge maps are free to book and borrow, and go to schools for three weeks at a time. For more information and to reserve the map for your classroom, visit cangeoeducation.ca.