VANIER, George Philias 2
- Born: 23 Apr 1888, Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada 2
- Marriage: ARCHER, Pauline on 29 Sep 1921 in Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada 1
- Died: 5 Mar 1967, Ottawa, Carleton, Ontario, Canada aged 78 2
- Buried: Québec, , Québec, Canada 3
Major-General Georges-Philéas Vanier, PC DSO MC & Bar (April 23, 1888 - March 5, 1967) was a Canadian soldier and diplomat who was Governor General of Canada from 1959 until his death.
Georges Vanier was born in Montreal. He studied at Loyola College in Montreal, and received a law degree at the Montreal branch of Université Laval. During the First World War, he was a founding member of the 22nd Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, the French-Canadian battalion that, in 1920, became the famous Royal 22e Régiment. He received the Military Cross in 1916, the Distinguished Service Order, and Bar to the Military Cross in 1919. While leading an attack at Chérisy, France in 1918, he lost his right leg. After a long convalescence, he returned to Montreal to practice law. He married Pauline Archer on September 29, 1921, and the couple had five children.
In 1921, he was appointed aide-de-camp to Lord Byng, beginning many years of service to the Office of the Governor General. In 1925, he took over command of The Royal 22nd Regiment at La Citadelle, and the following year was appointed an honorary aide-de-camp to Lord Willingdon and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1924.
In 1928, Georges Vanier began a long career in the diplomatic service when he was appointed to Canada's military delegation for disarmament to the League of Nations. In 1931, he was named Secretary to the Office of the High Commissioner in London. This was followed in 1939 with his appointment to the position of Canadian Minister to France -- a post he was forced to flee when the Nazis invaded in 1940. He was appointed commander of the military district of Quebec in 1941, and began an early policy of bilingualism in the army. By 1942, he was promoted to major general, and following the war was Canada's delegate at the Paris Peace Conference. During World War II he served as ambassador to all allied governments in exile in London. He was appointed as Canada's first ambassador to France in 1944 and his distinguished service at this post continued until his retirement in 1953.
Before retiring in 1953, General Vanier once again served as Canada's representative to the United Nations. After retirement, he and his wife returned to Montreal where they became involved in social work in the city. Georges Vanier was also a director with the Bank of Montreal, Credit Foncier Franco-Canadien, and the Standard Life Assurance Company, and served on the Canada Council for the Arts.
The appointment of Georges Vanier as Governor General was announced at a Cabinet meeting in Halifax presided over by Queen Elizabeth II. The respect and affection that General Vanier inspired made him an appropriate successor to the popular Governor General Vincent Massey.
His recommendation for appointment by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker was a surprise. Vanier was a staunch Liberal, but Diefenbaker felt that more representation for francophones was needed in government. In his memoirs Diefenbaker attributes his decision for appointing Vanier as one of pure chance that occurred out of an unexpected encounter with the General. The Prime Minister had originally been toying with the idea of going back to the practice of appointing Britons to the office.
Although Canada was experiencing turbulent times and General Vanier suffered from a heart condition, he reacted to the news of his appointment with the deep faith that was his constant companion. "If God wants me to do this job," he said, "He will give me the strength to do it." The Vaniers' strong religious beliefs led them to champion the disadvantaged, youth and the family. Their concern for the state of the family in Canada led them to organize the "Canadian Conference of the Family" at Rideau Hall in 1964, which led to the founding of the Vanier Institute of the Family.
During General Vanier's term, the separatist cause accelerated in Quebec. General Vanier firmly believed in Canadian unity and his speeches often attempted to improve relations between francophones and anglophones. He possessed a masterful command of both languages and promoted a policy of bilingualism long before his tenure as Governor General. The depth of his concern for Canada is revealed in one of the last speeches of his life, where he said, "The road of unity is the road of love: love of one's country and faith in its future will give new direction and purpose to our lives, lift us above our domestic quarrels, and unite us in dedication to the common good... I pray God that we may all go forward hand in hand. We can't run the risk of this great country falling into pieces."
General Vanier's poor health never stopped him from making trips across Canada. His doctor worried that the cross-country tours would be too strenuous, but he always found both Vaniers invigorated on their return. The Vaniers' travels increased the affection of the Canadian people for the vice-regal couple, and they are remembered for their genuine kindness to all they met, especially their attention to children and senior citizens. Among his travels, he attended the inauguration of the St. Lawrence Seaway in Cornwall, Ontario on January 29, 1960, and was made Chief Big Eagle of the Blackfoot tribe in Calgary in June 1965.
In his journeys, General Vanier encouraged young people to work hard and achieve excellence. His commitment to youth was evident in his enjoyment of his role as Canada's Chief Scout and his active support of the Scouting movement. He initiated in 1967 the Vanier Awards for Outstanding Young Canadians, which recognized excellence in the Canadian Junior Chamber of Commerce. And to recognize excellence in public service at the federal, provincial or municipal level, the Vanier Medal of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada was established in 1962.
General Vanier was a great sports enthusiast who established both the Vanier Cup for the university football championship in the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union and the Governor General's Fencing Award in 1965. Above all, he loved hockey and was an enthusiastic fan of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team.
During their time at Rideau Hall, the Vaniers hosted a long list of memorable guests. The distinguished visitors included United States President John Kennedy and Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy, the Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie, David Ben-Gurion, Prime Minister of Israel, the Shah of Iran and General Charles de Gaulle, President of France. The Vaniers also made many changes made to Rideau Hall -- the chapel was re-established (the previous one had been removed in 1912), and the smoking room became the Canadian room with the addition of Quebec antiques and pine panelling.
Georges Vanier received several honours while he served as Governor General -- he was appointed by the Queen to the Imperial Privy Council of the United Kingdom in 1963. He also received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto.
Death in office
In 1966, General Vanier's strength was failing. Although the daily round of visits and tours did not diminish, he was increasingly feeble and tired. Then on Sunday, March 5, 1967, the morning after watching a hockey game, and shortly after hearing the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receiving Holy Communion in the chapel he had installed at Rideau Hall, General Vanier died. He was only the second Governor General to die in office since Confederation. His state funeral took place on March 8, 1967 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Ottawa, and his now famous son, Jean Vanier, read the lesson. The funeral was snubbed by the French Government, and would be one of the events that led up to the famous Vive le Québec libre speech in Montreal, later that year.
The General's remains were interred on May 4, 1967 at the commemorative chapel at La Citadelle in Quebec City, the secondary residence of the Governor General and the home station of the French-speaking regiment that he had helped found in 1914, that he had commanded in the 1920s and whose destiny he had guided as its "Colonel of the Regiment" from 1952 to 1964.
Until a new Governor General could be appointed, the role was filled on an acting basis by Robert Taschereau, Chief Justice of Canada.
Recognition of their love for humanity, deep spirituality, and propagation of Roman Catholic values, recently led to Georges and Pauline Vanier's nomination for beatification in the Roman Catholic Church -- a tribute to this vice-regal couple who exemplified noble qualities and cared so deeply for Canada and the Canadian people.
Prime Minister Pearson recommended to Vanier's successor, Governor General Roland Michener, that Madame Vanier be appointed a member of the Privy Council of Canada, and she was sworn in on April 11, 1967. She was the first non-political woman to receive this honour, which was given to her because her husband died before the end of his term, which is when a Governor General is normally appointed a Privy Councillor. Madame Vanier was also among the first Companions of the Order of Canada, appointed on July 6, 1967.
Pauline Vanier died in 1991 at "L'Arche", a community for handicapped adults founded by Jean Vanier, in Trosly, France. She was 92 years old. She was buried next to General Vanier at La Citadelle. 3
George married Pauline ARCHER on 29 Sep 1921 in Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.1 (Pauline ARCHER was born on 28 Mar 1898 in Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada,4 died on 23 Mar 1991 in Trosly, , Picardie, France 3 4 and was buried in Québec, , Québec, Canada 3.)