Although July 1, 1867 and April 9, 1917 are separated by 50 years in time, in many ways they are inextricably linked to our identity as a nation. Confederation declared our political independence and Vimy declared our place in the world.
The 2017 Wounded Warriors Canada Battlefield Bike Ride (BBR17) will begin in London, England where the ride team will gather. From there it is off to Canterbury and then the beautiful cliffs of Dover for the short ferry ride to Calais – allowing us to step back in time and imagine our forefathers initial embarkation on French soil during the First World War.
Calais and Dunkirk mark the first part of the journey in France where the tour will pass through sites stepped in Canadian military history and sacrifice. Together we will explore lands soaked in the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice of the 619,638 Canadians and 11,988 men of the Dominion of Newfoundland who served during the First World War.
We will remember and honour the nearly 61,000 Canadians and 1,305 men of Newfoundland who gave their lives. Close to 172,000 were wounded during the course of the conflict and countless thousands more bore the invisible wounds from the conflict. Our journey of remembrance towards Vimy will take us through the storied battlefields of Flanders, The Somme and The Ypres Salient.
Along the way we will pause, reflect and commemorate at sites including but not limited to:
- The Cloth Hall at Ypres; the site where John McCrae penned his iconic poem “In Flanders Fields”
- The monument for the 10th Canadian Battalion and the 16th Canadian Scottish Battalion
- The St. Julien Canadian Memorial
- The 15th Battalion (48th Highlanders of Canada) monument
- Passchendaele New British Cemetery
- The Passchendaele Canadian Memorial
- The 85th Canadian Infantry Bataillon – Nova Scotia Highlanders Monument
- Tyne Cot Cemetery
- The Plaque for D.21 Battery, Canadian Field Artillery
- Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917
- Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry Memorial
- Hill 62 (Sanctuary Wood) Canadian Memorial
- The Memorial to the St. Eloi Tunnellers
- Voormezeele Enclosure No.3 Cemetery
- In Flanders Fields Museum
- The Menin Gate to witness the moving Last Post Ceremony
- Thiepval Memorial
- Beaumont-Hamel culminating at Vimy Ridge to mark the centennial of the iconic battle
Meet Matt Barlee – Your Magic Places Tour Provider
Combining his loves for adventure, travel, and cycling, Matt is truly living his passion through his company, Magic Places Cycling Adventures. During his 24-year career as a Canadian Air Force officer, his varied roles included hunting submarines under the Arctic icepack, Oceanographer for Canada’s West Coast fleet, and the Canadian Forces Liaison for the 2010 Olympic Games. During this time, Matt always managed to find time for his pursuit of adventure, from climbing Himalayan peaks to racing bikes on Canada’s national team.
Upon retirement from the Forces, Matt dove headlong into entrepreneurship under the mentorship of business mogul Peter Thomas, developing business franchises and directing real estate developments, until the day that he went on his first bike tour with Magic Places. It was then that he found the perfect synthesis of business and passion, and over two years, he partnered with and then purchased the company. Now, he describes his job as “riding my bike in the world’s most beautiful spots with a bunch of really cool people.” As Magic Places’ logo states: What a way to see the world!
Meet Glen Innes – WWC BBR17 Ride Director
Glen is the Ontario Territory Manager for Cervélo. In 2012, he got involved with Wounded Warriors Canada to support their very first Battlefield Bike Ride. That year he had the life-changing experience of riding through the north of France with a group of Canadian Service Men and listening to their stories. It was these stories that inspired Glen’s drive to give more. Glen returned to Canada with a deep and profound sense of admiration for our Canadian Armed Forces members and what they go through doing their jobs. Ever since, Glen has paired his passion and admiration for cycling and fitness, and the many benefits it provides for both physical and mental health, in support of Wounded Warriors Canada’s annual Battlefield Bike Rides. The 2016 Battlefield Bike Ride — the Italian Campaign — will be his fourth event.
Meet Todd McGowan – WWC BBR17 Operations Manager
Todd McGowan is your Operations Manager for BBR17. He is a retired Army Chief Warrant Officer with 27 years of Canadian Forces Service. He completed tours in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait/Iraq, Croatia, Bosnia, Germany, Afghanistan, Turkey and sailed with HMCS Ottawa and was skydiver with the SkyHawks parachute team.
Todd is also an avid cyclist with extensive experience of European bike touring. He is also a Wounded Warrior himself and a graduate of our sponsored Veterans Transition Program for PTSD veterans.