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Vimy Ridge Memorial in France to get visitor centre

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First World War - Firing naval guns behind the Canadians. National Archives of Canada / PA-001182
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Canadian soldiers returning from Vimy Ridge in May 1917. National Archives of Canada/William Ivor Castle / PA-001332
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Bringing in our wounded. - Vimy Ridge. - April, 1917. Photograph taken during battle of Vimy Ridge. The Canadian Press/National Archives of Canada/ PA-001125
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Grave of 2nd Canadian Division men killed on Vimy Ridge. July, 1918. National Archives of Canada / PA-003758
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Impregnable, But Captured - Here, until April 9, 1917, the German front-line twisted its sinuous way across the brow of Vimy Ridge, glowering down on and menacing the lower-lying Canadian trenches seen in the picture adjoining to the LEFT. So vital an anchor did the massive bastion provide forthe whole line on the western front that the German high command had spared no pains to convert it into an inland Gibraltar and felt confident they had made it impregnable. Nevertheless it was finally stormed and captured by the Canadian corps on April 9 in 1917. Stock photo/The Canadian Press
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Nazi leader Adolf Hitler visits the First World War memorial to the Canadian soldiers killed at Vimy Ridge, France, circa 1940. With him is Wehrmacht Field Marshal Gunther von Kluge (far right). Henry Guttmann/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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Canadian soldiers parade in front of the Canadian memorial, 07 April 2007 in Vimy (northern France), to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge. PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
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Canadian soldiers parade in front of the Canadian memorial on April 9, 2012 in Vimy, northern France, during the commemoration ceremony marking the 95th anniversary of the Crete de Vimy battle during World War I. A total of 3,598 Canadian Corps troops were killed and 7,004 were wounded over four days of fighting as they seized control of the ridge from German soldiers. PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
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Matt Macisaac, Piper of the Royal Canadian Air Forces Band from Winnipeg Manitoba, plays with a pipe in front of the of the Canadian memorial, on April 09, 2012 in Vimy, northern France, during the commemoration ceremony marking the 95th anniversary of the Crete de Vimy battle during World War I. PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/GettyImages
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Queen Elizabeth II lays a spray of flowers during the ceremonies marking the 90th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge, a World War I battle which was a costly victory for Canada. PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/GettyImages

VIMY, France – The federal government has set aside $5 million to help in the construction of a permanent visitor centre at the Canadian war memorial in Vimy, France.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who made the announcement today at the site of the defining First World War battle, says construction will be completed in time to mark the 100th anniversary in April 2017.

The Vimy Foundation, a charity founded in 2005 to promote Canada’s war legacy, will also conduct a fundraising campaign to complete the project.

The Harper government’s contribution was disclosed at media events in Quebec City and Edmonton, as well as at Vimy Ridge itself.

Flaherty says the sense of history is palpable at Vimy, where approximately 3,600 Canadians died in the effort to take the ridge from the Germans.

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Flaherty says the new structure will replace a temporary visitors centre, which has served the memorial for decades.

Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney, speaking in Quebec, says the goal is to help strengthen pride and to “educate citizens and friends of Canada about the sacrifices and achievements” during the Great War.

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