A New Brunswick man who creates realistic dioramas of military battle scenes out of his home calls it a passion and a duty and he’s now working on a piece in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
“Being the 100th anniversary I wanted to make something and donate it to the museum,” said Nick Dunning of Quispamsis, N.B., whose work will be donated to the 8th Canadian Hussars Museum in Sussex, N.B. on April 9th.
Each piece of work Dunning creates has its start in his basement, which he calls “the bunker.” Dunning spends hours combining his passion for military history and his artistic eye for detail to recreate battles from the First and Second World Wars.
“You have to almost sort of, without the sound, look at something that is action and give the viewer the impression that they can actually see what’s going on,” Dunning said.
He said his appreciation for military history was etched in his heart as a kid. His father was in the air force and his mother was a talented artist. The two passions passed on by his parents have combined in Dunning making him into an award-winning modeller.
He takes special care to make sure the tiny soldiers appear as lifelike as possible. Dunning said creating the dioramas is not just about artistic ambition.
“It’s my way, along with a lot of other hobbyists, of saying ‘thanks, thank you,’ and making sure that these veterans know they will never be forgotten.”
That’s why Dunning is creating a military diorama depicting the battle of Vimy Ridge for the upcoming anniversary of one of Canada’s most celebrated military battle victories.
On April 9, 1917 nearly 15,000 Canadian soldiers sprang from the trenches during the First World War to win one of the biggest battles in military history.
WATCH: Author and historian Tim Cook on the lessons and the legacy of the battle of Vimy Ridge
The Battle of Vimy Ridge happened in April 1917, and carries great historical significance for Canada. It was the first time all four Canadian military divisions fought together for national unity and identity.
“It’s something that Canadians should be proud of that we captured that hill,’ said Dunning, who has been crafting the tiny works of art for decades.
Most of his works honour soldiers who fought in both world wars and the detail in his work is so impressive it’s already been featured in Canada’s War Museum in Normandy, France.
“When they were building the Juno Beach Centre in France they heard that I had a diorama built of it and it was given to them and it is now in the museum in France.”
He said he is paying homage to the 45,000 Canadians who died fighting fascism in Europe.
Carol Carr from the 8th Canadian Hussars Museum said Dunning’s newest work depicting the battle at Vimy Ridge will be a cherished addition to the museum’s display.
“Just all the intricate work and those soldiers that speak to you. We are really pleased that he has taken the time to create these for us” Carr said.
Dunning’s diorama will be unveiled at the museum on April 9th marking the centenary of the battle.