"The Healing Fields" is an ongoing project documenting and interpreting historic sites and memorials of the First World War in Europe.
The project was launched in 2007 with a commission to photograph the recently restored Canadian National Vimy Memorial at Vimy Ridge in France.
The Vimy Memorial is the largest and most significant memorial to Canadians lost in the First World War.  It was designed by Canadian architect and sculptor Walter Allward and was constructed through the late 1920's and early 1930's on the site of the Battle for Vimy Ridge.​​​​​​​
Unlike most war memorials, it is contemplative and sober rather than heroic and triumphant.  In this sense, despite its enormous size, it becomes intimate and profoundly personal.  The walls of the base of the memorial are inscribed with the names of 11,285 Canadian soldiers who died in France and whose final resting place was then unknown.
This is one of twenty highly symbolic figurative sculptures incorporated into the memorial, and is known as "Mother Canada".  She is central to the monument and represents the young nation of Canada mourning her fallen sons.
The weeping figure is facing the Douai Plain, and is gazing downward toward the tomb of a fallen soldier.  It is clearly reminiscent of traditional images of the Virgin Mary in mourning, and is possibly the most emotionally moving aspect of the memorial.
Large portions of the Vimy site have been left in their original state since the battle. The Vimy and Beaumont Hamel Newfoundland Memorial sites contain 80% of the remaining intact WWI Western Front battlefields in Europe.
The Female and Male Mourners flank the steps leading up the front of the memorial.
Other sites in this series :

La Targette French Cemetery

Neuville St. Vaast, France

Nine Elms Cemetery

Thelus, France

Detail of the headstone of an unidentified soldier. 378 Canadians from the Battle of Vimy Ridge are buried at The Nine Elms Cemetery.

Neuville St. Vaast German War Cemetery

Neuville St. Vaast, France

The Neuville St. Vaast German War Cemetery is the largest German cemetery in France, containing 44,833 burials. Unlike the cemeteries for Allied casualties, which generally lie with an open aspect and are highly visible in the landscape about them with imposing edifice memorials to mark their sites, the German cemetery near Neuville St. Vaast is discreetly designed and more understated.

Lichfield Crater Memorial  (path)

Thelus, France

Scattered throughout the countryside of northern France are many small WWI cemeteries and memorials. These have been left in the places they were created, and life goes on around them. This is a long grass walkway through a farm field leading to the Lichfield Crater, a memorial built inside a mine crater. There are 40 Canadians buried here from the Battle of Vimy Ridge, including one recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Lochnagar Crater Memorial

La Boisselle​​​​​​​, France

The Lochnagar Crater was created by a large mine detonated beneath the German front line by the British Army’s 179th Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers at 7:28am on July 1st, 1916. One hundred metres deep, it is the largest man-made mine crater from the First World War on the Western Front.
The explosion marked the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. At the end of the day the British forces had suffered 57,470 casualties. Four and a half months later, over three million men had fought in the battle, and over a million had been wounded or killed.
"L'Anneau de la Mémoire" (Ring of Memory) is a recently built memorial at Ablain-Saint-Nazaire, France. Designed by Philippe Prost, and inaugurated on November 11, 2014, the memorial consists of a 350 metre perimeter ellipse constructed out of stainless steel panels and concrete.
On its walls are the names of 576,606 soldiers of forty different nationalities who died in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region between 1914 and 1919. The names are listed alphabetically, without regard to rank or nationality, and include persons from all countries involved in the conflict.

"L'Anneau de la Mémoire"


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