Growing up in Southwestern Ontario, farm boy Arthur Currie was no Boy Scout.

Yet, the Strathroy-schooled soldier’s personal motto during the Great War that followed could easily have been Scouting’s signature phrase — be prepared.

As Canada marks the centennial of its First World War victory at Vimy Ridge this weekend, a stunning feat many saw as an identity-forging triumph for a young nation, it may be fitting that Currie, a man some consider the country’s greatest military mind, but who’s often overshadowed in history, is remembered for the most prosaic quality — that he knew how to make careful battlefield plans.

How Canadian.

How Southwestern Ontario.

How Strathroy of him.

Currie was an unlikely hero at Vimy, where he commanded one of four Canadian divisions that, fighting together for the first time, dislodged the heavily dug-in Germans from a seven-kilometre-long ridge in France. It was a victory in the trench-warfare bloodbath of the Western Front that had eluded other Allied armies, but which came at a terrible cost. More than 10,000 Canadian soldiers were injured or killed.


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