Vanier College is proudly named after General The Right Honourable Georges P. Vanier, one of the most distinguished and socially conscientious Canadians of the 20th century. In 1911, Vanier was called to the Quebec bar following education at Loyola College (Concordia University) and a law degree from Laval University.
In 1915, Vanier enlisted in the Canadian army joining the 22nd Regiment as a founding officer. He served with the “VanDoos” – from “vingt-duex” or twenty-two in French – during the First World War. Vanier would later command the VanDoos from 1926–1928 before accepting a diplomatic post as part of Canada’s growing international political involvement. The VanDoos were bestowed ‘Royal’ by King George V on June 1920, and further renamed ‘22e’ in recognition of their French-Canadian roots. The Royal 22e Régiment is currently Canada’s largest and most renowned francophone military units.
While leading an attack at Chérisy, France (1918) Vanier was wounded, resulting in the loss of his right leg. In recognition of his military service, courage and valour, Vanier was awarded the Military Cross twice (1916 & 1919) and the Distinguished Service Order (1919).
In 1928, Georges Vanier was appointed to Canada’s delegation to the newly formed League of Nations (institutional predecessor to the United Nations) and would later serve as Secretary to the Office of the High Commissioner in London (1931–1939). His bilingual fluency led to his appointment as Canadian Minister to France and later as Canada’s first Ambassador to France (1939–1953). During his tenure in France, he also served as Canada’s representative to the United Nations until his 1953 retirement from Foreign Service. In September 1959, Georges P. Vanier was appointed the 19th Governor General of Canada – hence ‘The Right Honourable’ designation – which he used as a platform to recognize, amongst others, youth community involvement (Vanier Awards for Outstanding Young Canadians, 1967), federal, provincial & municipal public service (Vanier Medal of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada, 1962), and sports and recreation (Vanier Cup, National Football Championship, Canadian Interuniversity Sports, 1965; Chief Scout of Canada, Scouts Canada, 1959). Vanier would serve as Governor General until his death on March 5, 1967. He lies interred in the commemorative chapel at La Citadelle in Quebec City.
“Let us remember that no point of view nor any one way of life has any monopoly on virtue. Quite the contrary, the road to ultimate wisdom lies in the comparison, in mutual compassion and understanding. Each of us, individually, has some element of truth, some glimpse of enlightenment to offer all of us. Therefore, when we meet someone’s opinion that is new to us, or people with a tradition that we have not met before, let us look at them with respect, and perhaps with envy, for they know something perhaps we do not and they have achieved a further step towards truth.”