Westmount, Quebec – 10 April 2016: On Thursday 07 April 2016, The Royal Montreal Regiment welcomed in members of the community to help them officially launch the Souterrain Impressions Exhibition,which is a collection of 20 digital replicas of actual cave carvings in northern France. In April 1917, Canadian soldiers awaited to join the attack on Vimy Ridge in caves ten metres underground. As these men awaited an uncertain fate in this dark, cold and damp place, they passed the time by carving their regimental badges, and other messages, into the soft chalk walls of the caves where they lived for days, and sometimes weeks.
Close to 100 visitors toured the Souterrain Impressions exhibit on Thursday evening and many of the visitors had an opportunity to meet the artist who created it, Zenon Andrusyszyn. Zenon is a Montreal-born Canadian artist and educator and his interest in Canadian history, combined with his experience as a visual artist and art educator, led him to establish The Canadian Historical Documentation & Imaging Group (CANADIGM).
Zenon has a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Concordia University in Montreal, a Diploma in Art Education from McGill and has been practicing his profession for 40 years. Zenon formed CANADIGM, a non-profit historical documentation and imaging group, and has captured these remarkable carvings using non-invasive 3D laser scanners and high-resolution photography. The result is a collection of highly-precise replicas – 20 modules each highlighting an underground carving, the soldier who created it and an interactive kiosk providing details on Canada’s role in World War I.
The local community was well represented, with His Worship Mayor Peter Trent, a former Honorary Colonel of the Regiment, in attendance along with councillors Rosalind Davis and Cynthia Lulham (the RMR is located within Cynthia Lulham’s district). Westmount granted the RMR “Freedom of the City” in 1954 as part of the Regiment’s 40th anniversary celebrations and in recognition of the strong historic ties between the two. The RMR has long been considered“Westmount’s Regiment”, given the lineage of the Regiment and the RMR’s perpetuation of the 58th Westmount Rifles.
Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-François Denis, the Commanding Officer of the RMR, addressed the visitors towards the end of the evening, thanking them for attending and encouraging them to spread the word about the exhibition, particularly to any schools who might be interested in visiting.
The Souterrain Impressions exhibit continues at the RMR until 28 April 2016. Entrance is free and the exhibition is open seven days a week. Monday – Friday 16h00 – 20h00, Saturday – Sunday 10h00 – 16h00.