The Beaverbrook Vimy Prize winning Canadian students

Errington student tours European battle sites

‘I realized how important it is to avoid future conflicts’

Sara Taylor has long been interested in history, but her recent trip to Europe gave her a much deeper appreciation.

“In school we’re just taught the facts, we learn about our mistakes rather than how to learn from our mistakes,” said the 17-year-old from Errington who just returned from a trip to England, France and Belgium as one of 14 winners of the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize from the Vimy Foundation.

“When I went into it, I didn’t understand the gravity of it, I didn’t expect it to affect me on such a deep level,” she said describing the two week visit to places like the Churchill War Rooms and the Imperial War Museum in London and the Vimy Ridge memorial in France.

Taylor said she uncharacteristically clicked on a Facebook ad offering something about trips to Europe, and the rest fell into place as she won the scholarship from among hundreds of applications from across the country.

Other than starting with Second World War sites in London, they worked chronologically through war history and each student picked and focused on the story of a specific fallen soldier.

Taylor said she picked private William Edward Thorne and felt she could relate to him because he was from Nanaimo and was just a year older than her when he headed overseas where he died at Vimy at just 19.

The students made tributes to their specific soldiers, Taylor leaving seashells she felt she had in common with Thorn, coming from this seaside area.

The trip was meant to give the students a real-life sense of the experience of war and tie in with the centennial of the start of the First World War in August.

The students got to see the new Vimy Education Centre just starting construction at the Vimy Memorial, where a 22,000 square feet (1,850 square metres) facility will open for the centennial of the Battle at Vimy Ridge, April 9, 2017, and the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

“I don’t think I’ve ever done so much in two weeks in my life,” Taylor said, adding that they still had time to get a sense of the big picture.

She said she was really struck by the absurdity of “the idea of a war of attrition,” referring to battles like Passchendaele, where hundreds of thousands died to gain less than a mile.”

“I realized how important it is to avoid future conflicts.”

Going into Grade 12, Taylor hasn’t made any decisions, but is considering various history related careers like anthropology and museum curation, adding, “what I’d really like to do is write, and I believe that a working knowledge of modern history is incredibly important for any kind of writing.”

For more on the foundation and Beaverbrook prize, which was supported by the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation and EF Educational Tours, visit

Just Posted

Canadian Music Hall of Famer Steven Page to play Parksville

Barenaked Ladies co-founder performs at Knox United Church on June 1

Parksville Beach Festival Society launches campaign for outdoor stage

Public invited to event May 25 to help with kickoff

Crime Report: Oceanside RCMP receive 328 complaints in one-week span

Vandalism and theft of a wheelchair among listed incidents

Controversial cell tower proposal in Coombs clears another hurdle

Committee indicates Rogers satisfactorily completed requirements

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

RCMP arrest violent offender on Vancouver Island

Campbell River police struggle with suspect and take him down with a taser

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Two cats die in house fire in Nanaimo

Fire happened just after 2 p.m. Sunday on Fifth Street, one resident displaced

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

RDN looking into providing bus service 365 days a year

RDN transit committee to consider adding bus service on Christmas, New Year’s and Good Friday

One year after heartbreaking B.C. search, wife reflects on late husband

First anniversary of Ben Kilmer’s disappearance, and a search that galvanized Vancouver Island

Most Read