Mons is rightly proud of the curious coincidence that saw it staging both the first and last Allied engagements of World War One – and the numerous legends that go with it, from the award of the first VCs to the ghostly apparition known as the Angels of Mons, who appeared in the sky and are said to have saved the British troops by enabling them to retreat virtually unscathed from a hopeless position. Centenary events in and around the town, which began in 2014, will continue until November 2018 – from solemn ceremonies to historical exhibitions, theatre shows to music concerts. Many of these will have a strong Canadian flavour, as a tribute to the Canadian troops who liberated Mons shortly before hostilities ceased.
The climax of the programme will be staged over the weekend of 10-11 November 2018. On the morning of Saturday 10th, a parade is planned through the border town of Quiévrain, where the Canadians first entered Belgium. Later that day a new memorial will be unveiled at Le Roeulx, in honour of George Price, a 25-year-old Canadian private, who was shot while pursuing retreating German soldiers just two minutes before the ceasefire was signalled and weapons were laid down at 11:00am on 11 November 1918.
On Saturday evening, the magnificent main square in Mons will host contrasting music concerts. A performance of traditional French songs from Quebec will be followed by more contemporary pop and rock. The main event on Sunday 11 November will be a military parade, featuring the same Canadian regiments and their bands that triumphantly liberated Mons a century earlier. The plan is that at 5:00pm - 11:00am in the Canadian capital Ottawa - the two venues will be linked in a simultaneous musical performance, with large screens projecting the action to audiences on either side of the Atlantic, cementing the close association between Wallonia and Canada that has endured for 100 years.