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Local filmmaker to document visit of Canadian youth to Vimy Ridge

Filmmaker Anthony Tooton, a native of St. John's, will travel to France at the end of March with the Maples for Vimy Project. He's creating a documentary about the project, which will see about 60 Canadian youth planting maples trees at Vimy Ridge in honour of the 100th anniversary of the battle.
Filmmaker Anthony Tooton, a native of St. John's, will travel to France at the end of March with the Maples for Vimy Project. He's creating a documentary about the project, which will see about 60 Canadian youth planting maples trees at Vimy Ridge in honour of the 100th anniversary of the battle.

A group of scouts, guides and cadets from across the country will travel to France this spring to leave a living memorial for Canadian soldiers at Vimy Ridge, and a local filmmaker will be there to document it.

St. John’s native Anthony Tooton, now based in London, Ont., will travel with the Maples for Vimy project as it visits the battleground and areas around Vimy Ridge, planting 500 maple trees.

The Maples for Vimy project is spearheaded by Paul Gagnon of Ontario, who served as a horticulturist for London’s Veterans Memorial Parkway project, where memorial trees are also planted.

“I thought, OK, we’re honouring veterans here, why not honour them there?,” Gagnon — who comes from a military family — said of the inspiration for Maples for Vimy. After securing the permission and support of the French and Canadian governments, he and his wife travelled to France to make the necessary connections and begin the organization of the project.

 

Spring trip

About 60 Canadian youth will travel to France March 29, the week before the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. There they will first visit the Newfoundland memorial at Beaumont Hamel before planting 500 maple trees at the battleground of Vimy Ridge as well as at surrounding sites identified as having been areas where Canadians were deployed. With the help of French growers, three types of trees will be planted: red and silver maples and the Regal Petticoat Maple, each with special significance.

“The red and silver maples represent the original Canadian citizens, our First Nations cultures, and the third maple, which was actually discovered in Nova Scotia, is also found in Europe and Asia, so it represents the settlers who came from abroad.”

As the initiative grew and details were finalized, Gagnon realized he couldn’t undertake a project of such significance without documenting it, so he began looking for a filmmaker. He was introduced to Tooton through his daughter.

“For me, it’s more about working with good people more than just qualified people,” Gagnon said. “Anthony seemed like ‘good people’ to me, and it turned out he had the qualifications as well.”

Tooton first started working in film with local artist Peter Wilkins and sieved.com, before earning an entrance scholarship to Toronto Film School. He said he developed a love of documentaries while studying in the film production program there.

His past projects have included “At Humour’s Edge,” a short film about the Newfoundland comedy scene, which aired on NTV in 2012, and he’s working on a six-part documentary series about successful local family businesses.

He’s excited about the Maples for Vimy film, called “Living Memorials of Honour.”

“Literally each and every Canadian and Newfoundlander were directly affected by the Great War,” Tooton said. “The upcoming anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge brings crucial attention to all those who sacrificed and reflects the massive appreciation the people of France have for our people and our nation.

“The opening quote for our film, I believe, expresses it best,” Tooton continued, offering a well-known quote from Brigadier-General Alexander Ross, who led the 28th Battalion at Vimy Ridge. “It was Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific on parade. I thought then that in those few minutes I witnessed the birth of a nation.”

Tooton will follow Gagnon and the Maples for Vimy group on their visit to France, and will tell the story of the battle through narration and archival images. He’s hoping the finished product will appeal to war and Canadian history buffs, veterans, and youth.

“School-age Canadians who sometimes see a flag at half-mast but don’t really know why, or who hear about the Second World War as being the Great War may be interested in the film,” he says.

While Tooton is producing the documentary as an independent filmmaker, Gagnon had a hand in establishing its vision.

“The feeling of this documentary film will be mostly about what the French people feel about Canadians and Newfoundlanders did for them,” Gagnon said. “It’s something we need to articulate to our youth. This is a way we can engage youth to know what our military has done and what they have left behind in the countries where they served.”

RELATED STORY
‘At Humour’s Edge!’ explores Newfoundland comedy

Tooton hopes to tour the completed documentary at schools and other educational institutions, veterans’ organizations and war museums, and plans to submit it to various film festivals. Ideally, he’d love to secure a television broadcaster.

A Go Fund Me campaign has been established to help raise money for the production of “Living Memorials of Honour,” at www.gofundme.com/livingmemorialsofhonour. More information on the Maples for Vimy project can be found at www.maplesforvimy.com.

 

tbradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

St. John’s native Anthony Tooton, now based in London, Ont., will travel with the Maples for Vimy project as it visits the battleground and areas around Vimy Ridge, planting 500 maple trees.

The Maples for Vimy project is spearheaded by Paul Gagnon of Ontario, who served as a horticulturist for London’s Veterans Memorial Parkway project, where memorial trees are also planted.

“I thought, OK, we’re honouring veterans here, why not honour them there?,” Gagnon — who comes from a military family — said of the inspiration for Maples for Vimy. After securing the permission and support of the French and Canadian governments, he and his wife travelled to France to make the necessary connections and begin the organization of the project.

 

Spring trip

About 60 Canadian youth will travel to France March 29, the week before the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. There they will first visit the Newfoundland memorial at Beaumont Hamel before planting 500 maple trees at the battleground of Vimy Ridge as well as at surrounding sites identified as having been areas where Canadians were deployed. With the help of French growers, three types of trees will be planted: red and silver maples and the Regal Petticoat Maple, each with special significance.

“The red and silver maples represent the original Canadian citizens, our First Nations cultures, and the third maple, which was actually discovered in Nova Scotia, is also found in Europe and Asia, so it represents the settlers who came from abroad.”

As the initiative grew and details were finalized, Gagnon realized he couldn’t undertake a project of such significance without documenting it, so he began looking for a filmmaker. He was introduced to Tooton through his daughter.

“For me, it’s more about working with good people more than just qualified people,” Gagnon said. “Anthony seemed like ‘good people’ to me, and it turned out he had the qualifications as well.”

Tooton first started working in film with local artist Peter Wilkins and sieved.com, before earning an entrance scholarship to Toronto Film School. He said he developed a love of documentaries while studying in the film production program there.

His past projects have included “At Humour’s Edge,” a short film about the Newfoundland comedy scene, which aired on NTV in 2012, and he’s working on a six-part documentary series about successful local family businesses.

He’s excited about the Maples for Vimy film, called “Living Memorials of Honour.”

“Literally each and every Canadian and Newfoundlander were directly affected by the Great War,” Tooton said. “The upcoming anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge brings crucial attention to all those who sacrificed and reflects the massive appreciation the people of France have for our people and our nation.

“The opening quote for our film, I believe, expresses it best,” Tooton continued, offering a well-known quote from Brigadier-General Alexander Ross, who led the 28th Battalion at Vimy Ridge. “It was Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific on parade. I thought then that in those few minutes I witnessed the birth of a nation.”

Tooton will follow Gagnon and the Maples for Vimy group on their visit to France, and will tell the story of the battle through narration and archival images. He’s hoping the finished product will appeal to war and Canadian history buffs, veterans, and youth.

“School-age Canadians who sometimes see a flag at half-mast but don’t really know why, or who hear about the Second World War as being the Great War may be interested in the film,” he says.

While Tooton is producing the documentary as an independent filmmaker, Gagnon had a hand in establishing its vision.

“The feeling of this documentary film will be mostly about what the French people feel about Canadians and Newfoundlanders did for them,” Gagnon said. “It’s something we need to articulate to our youth. This is a way we can engage youth to know what our military has done and what they have left behind in the countries where they served.”

RELATED STORY
‘At Humour’s Edge!’ explores Newfoundland comedy

Tooton hopes to tour the completed documentary at schools and other educational institutions, veterans’ organizations and war museums, and plans to submit it to various film festivals. Ideally, he’d love to secure a television broadcaster.

A Go Fund Me campaign has been established to help raise money for the production of “Living Memorials of Honour,” at www.gofundme.com/livingmemorialsofhonour. More information on the Maples for Vimy project can be found at www.maplesforvimy.com.

 

tbradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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