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General George Vanier, 19th Governor General of Canada and member of the Order of Malta

Canada, 04/02/2018 

The traditional ceremony tribute to General Georges Phileas Vanier and his wife Pauline Archer was held on Sunday, October 15, in Quebec City. This event took place at the Royal 22 e Régiment Memorial in the presence of the members of the Order of Malta of the Quebec region and some distinguished guests. The ceremony was followed by lunch at the Officers’ Mess of the Citadelle of Quebec and a presentation by Marc Beaudoin, historian, on “The Knights of St. Louis at Canada.”

Georges Vanier was enlisted in the 22nd French-Canadian Battalion in 1915 as a lieutenant and served as an officer during the First World War. Promoted captain, then Major, he participated in October 1918 in the Battle of Chérisy where all the officers of the 22nd battalion were killed or wounded. Georges Vanier was injured twice and his injuries were so serious that the chaplain of the battalion gave him absolution before he left. He went to the Ligny St-Flochel Hospital where his right leg was amputated. This injury forced him to walk with a cane for the remainder of his life, but did not prevent him from continuing his career.

Thus, in September 1924, Lieutenant-Colonel Georges Vanier, who, despite his disability, managed to remain in the military service, was appointed the Commander of the 22nd Regiment garrisoned at the Citadelle of Quebec. On February 25, 1928, he was named Canada’s representative of Canada to the Geneva Commission preparatory to disarmament at the League of Nations. In 1939 he was appointed Canadian Minister Plenipotentiary in France. After returning from France in 1941, he served as Commander of the Quebec Military District and was then appointed Divisional General in 1942. In the same year, he was sent to England as Canadian Minister Plenipotentiary with governments in exile, particularly with Free France. In 1945 he was appointed Ambassador of Canada to France until his retirement in 1953. He was appointed Governor General of Canada on August 1, 1959, becoming the first francophone and the first Québécois to hold this position.

At an investiture held at Rideau Hall on December 21, 1960, Vanier and his wife Pauline Archer were both admitted to the Canadian Association of the Order of Malta. Georges was received as a Knight Grand Cross of Magistral Grace with cord and Pauline as a Lady of Magistral Grace.

Georges Vanier died in office at Rideau Hall (Ottawa) on March 5, 1967. His funeral took place on the following March 8 in Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal. He was buried at the Royal 22 e Régiment Memorial at the Citadelle of Quebec. His wife Pauline died on March 23, 1991, and rests at his side.

The deep spirituality of the viceregal couple has led the Archdiocese of Ottawa to begin a process that could eventually lead to their beatification.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta - Canadian Association

Email: executivedirector@orderofmaltacanada.org, Telephone: (613) 731-8897