CANADA HISTORY - Govenors General

George P. Vanier


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General George-Philas Vanier was 71 years old when he became nineteenth Governor General. the second Canadian t hold the office. He brought t it a distinguished record of service to his country in war and peace.

He was born in Montreal on April 23, 1888, he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1911. But from 1915 until his death, war and public service occupied the greater part of his life. He was commanding officer of the Royal 22nd Regiment from 1925 to 1928. He earned decorations and distinction during the First World War. Thereafter he represented his country on numerous diplomatic missions and at important conferences dealing with post-war problems and adjustments.

General Vanier served as Secretary of the Canadian High Commission in London and was Canadian Minister to France when that country fell in 1940. He returned there as Canadian Ambassador from 1944 until his retirement in 1953 at the age of 65.

Despite this retirement, he was frequently engaged in government missions, including delegations to the United Nations and in private business activities. Honours and decorations were showered on him as they had been throughout most of his active life, both at home and abroad.

General Vanier was no stranger to Rideau Hall, having served as Aide-de-Camp to Governors General Byng and Willingdon. A tall, impressive man with great dignity and composure, he moved about with some difficulty due to the loss of a leg in the First World War, but the impairment never hindered the enthusiasm and dedication with which he carried out the duties entrusted to him. On his appointment in 1959, he set out at once to emulate his predecessors in getting to know Canada and its people. In his first year of office, he travelled some 15,000 miles. He worked hard and incessantly for the cause of national unity and to encourage a greater awareness among Canadians of the value and importance of happy, united family units.

A soldier to the end, he valiantly fought ill health in an effort to discharge the numerous Centennial responsibilities of his office, but succumbed on March 5th, 1967; the second Governor General to die in office. Following a state funeral in Ottawa and a memorial service in Quebec's historic Citadel, General Vanier was buried in Quebec City with full military honours.


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