A previously unnamed thoroughfare in Clinton now has a name, which is already showing up on Google Maps.
At a ceremony on April 9, the Village of Clinton unveiled Vimy Lane, which runs parallel to Highway 97 between Dewdney and Lebourdais Avenues and begins (or ends) directly opposite Royal Canadian Legion Branch #194. The lane has properties backing onto it, but their addresses are either on Highway 97 or Government Street, and Mayor Susan Swan says that probably explains why it was never named.
However, she has been advocating for a name for it for some time, and knew she wanted something short and easy to remember that — due to its proximity to the Legion — had some connection with Canadian veterans. She mentioned the idea to Clinton resident Jim Walch, who told Swan that his father was wounded at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which took place in April 1917.
“Walches still live on both sides of the lane,” says Swan. “I thought ‘That’s the name.’”
Clinton Chief Administrative Officer Murray Daly says that municipalities have a fair bit of leeway when it comes to their roads.
“The naming was done through a bylaw process,” he explains. “It was a pretty simple process, and fairly painless.” The naming bylaw was approved by Clinton council in late summer of 2021, and the plan was to have the renaming during last year’s Remembrance Day service, but it was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Instead, the ceremony was held on April 9, 2022; fittingly, the 105th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which was a critical Allied victory during World War I and a defining moment for the young country of Canada, whose troops secured the victory. Nearly 20 people turned out for the naming ceremony, despite the snowy, blustery weather, and in her remarks Swan acknowledged the importance of the battle, and also made reference to its importance in Clinton.
“Jim Walch told me that his father had been wounded in the Battle of Vimy Ridge and that he considered it to be the luckiest day of his life,” Swan told the assembly. “I asked how being wounded could be considered lucky, and Jim responded that his father always said that he was luckier than so many who did not survive the war, and that by the time he recovered from his wounds, the war had ended. I guess you could consider that lucky! As a result, there are now several generations of Walches.” She dedicated Vimy Lane as a tribute to “the brave Canadians who have participated in all past conflicts, but especially those who fought at Vimy Ridge.”
Swan says the village requested that a poppy adorn the street sign; a request that was readily granted.
“We’ve had a lot of thank yous from Legion members for choosing that name and dedicating it on the anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge,” she says. “I’m glad we finally got it done.”