• James Armstrong

Violin plays role in remembering 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge


PHOTO COURTESY STUART LEBARON

A violin commemorates the life of its original owner and the names of the WWI battles they survived together.

A violin that travelled with its owner, Karl ‘Chub’ LeBaron through many of the major battles of World War I, including the Battle of Vimy Ridge, has a familial link to Hudson.

“Karl LeBaron was my grandfather who fought in and survived Vimy Ridge,” said Stuart LeBaron, owner of LeBaron Bites Catering Company. The younger LeBaron recounted some early memories of his grandfather who died in 1975.

“He was a very soft-spoken man who never talked about the war,” said LeBaron. “The names of all the battles are scratched into the varnish on the back of the violin.” LeBaron described his family as musically talented. “My grandmother played the piano and my grandfather, his Vimy violin.”

Currently, the Vimy violin resides in Toronto with LeBaron’s cousin, violinist Grant Campbell.

‘Chub’ LeBaron received the violin, made by Lowendall, in the early 1900s. “He was given it as a child in 1904. It was given the name Vimy as that was the first battle they were in when they arrived in France. They went right into the fire,” said his grandson, adding, “I know he started a band up at McGill upon his return from the war and I believe he was in engineering.” Karl LeBaron was a member of the McGill 7th Siege Battery. According to the younger LeBaron, the origin of the ‘Chub’ moniker remains a mystery, as his grandfather was not a particularly overweight person. “No one seems to know how he came by that name,” he added.

For Stuart LeBaron, the Vimy violin story is an important piece of his family history to pass on to the next generation, his daughter, four and a half year old Bailey LeBaron.

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