He was the architect of Vimy Ridge, Canada's most famous battle of the First World War, and the first Canadian to lead Canadians into war.
The Life and Legacy of Sir Arthur Currie, is a travelling exhibit put together by the Museum Strathroy-Caradoc, with funding support from the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Museum Assistance Program, that highlights the extraordinary life and military career of the Strathroy-area native.
Drawing from sources and materials about his early life in rural Strathroy, Ontario, the exhibit considers the influence of his youth on his remarkable rise through the ranks from a militia gunner before the First World War, to become the first Canadian commander of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The exhibit traces the roots of Canada's greatest military commander and celebrates his achievements and legacy.
The Champlain Trail Museum and Heritage Village is the proud host of this exhibit, which officially opened with a private showing the evening of June 22. It will stay in the museum until Sept. 13, 2017.
Angela Siebarth, curator and museum manager, welcomed everyone, saying they are very proud to have this exhibit here on the very year everyone is commemorating the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge and Canada's sesquicentennial.
“Sir Arthur Currie was an ordinary man who accomplished extraordinary things,” she said. “Currie's childhood and education played a part in shaping his character, his commitment to preparation and planning and the humbleness with which he served.”
Siebarth said Currie came from a family with no connection to the military, yet became a soldier of great prominence.
She thanked Ontario Power Generation, the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 436 Deep River and Br. 550 Cobden, Holiday Inn Express Pembroke, KI Canada and Herb Shaw and Sons for sponsoring the exhibit.
Siebarth also thanked the museum's intern Sara McGillivray for assisting in booking the exhibit, summer student assistant Bryan Cuypers for designing the sponsor banner and Speedpro Signs for printing it.
To augment the exhibit, a display has been set up to highlight two Pembroke soldiers who served under Currie's command at Vimy Ridge, Ernie Troutman and John J. Cotter.
It was Currie's meticulous planning of the battle which is credited with providing the Canadian victory at Vimy, from the use of a creeping barrage to suppress German troops defending it, to training the soldiers themselves in the plan so everyone knew what had to be done and their roles in it, supplying the latest maps of the battlefield and so forth.
The battle was costly, with 3,598 Canadians dead and 7,004 wounded over the four days it lasted. These losses were considered light in comparison to many other battles on the Western Front, with the tactics used playing no small role in its success,
Following the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Currie was promoted to Lieutenant General, and assumed command of the Canadian Corps. Upon returning to Canada, Currie was promoted to General and was made inspector-general of the Canadian Army.
After the war, he became the principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University in 1920, holding this post until his death in 1933.