Launch of the new Liberation Route Europe Walking Route “In the Footsteps of the Canadian Liberators”


Canadian Trails launching ceremony

Yesterday, May 29th, the LRE Foundation, in collaboration with Erfgoed Zeeland and Provincie Zeeland, proudly launched the new Liberation Route Europe walking route in the Netherlands, titled “In the Footsteps of the Canadian Liberators.” This project, funded by Vfonds, highlights the crucial role of Canadian soldiers in the liberation of the Netherlands during World War II. The route includes several Vectors of Memory, designed by American architect Daniel Libeskind, which serve as markers to highlight major historical events and stories. 

Spanning over 1,500 kilometres, the new national walking route stretches from Zeeland to Groningen. It includes various museums, cemeteries, and other historical sites, featuring well-known and lesser-known stories from the final phase of World War II, such as the Battle of the Scheldt, Operation Veritable, and the liberation of the Northern Netherlands.

This new route is a vital addition to the Canadian Liberation Route, enriching the Liberation Route Europe hiking trail network. It retraces the steps of Canadian liberators in the Netherlands during 1944-45 and explores the resistance’s role, the actions of secret agents, and the experiences of ordinary citizens.

Yesterday’s ceremony, supported by the Municipality of Sluis, Village Council Retranchement, and Village Hall d’Ouwe Kerke, included the unveiling of a Vector of Memory at the Hickman Bridge in Retranchement. The 1.80-meter-high Vector of Memory commemorates the bridge constructed by the Royal Canadian Engineers over the Uitwatering Canal in October 1944. Named after their fallen sergeant, the ‘Hickman Bridge’ allowed Canadian troops to eliminate the last pockets of resistance around Knokke.

The launch ceremony at the Hickman Bridge was a beautiful moment, featuring speeches from Marga Vermue, Mayor of the Municipality of Sluis, Alderman Patricia van de Vijver, and Military Attaché at the Embassy of Canada, Colonel Marc Lafortune. Reflections on freedom were also shared by the oldest and youngest residents of Retranchement.

Following the ceremony, all guests went to the local Village Hall for the opening of the fascinating photo exhibition “1940-1945 Retranchement Terhofstede” about the town’s history during WWII.