Collected in this volume are selections from addresses by His
Excellency, General Georges P. Vanier, one of the most eminent public figures of Canada.
His broad interests and deep involvement in all aspects of Canadian life are reflected in
these speeches. A life-long concern with the importance of the family is evident in his
opening talk at the Canadian Conference on the Family in 1964: "...the best and
surest way of developing generous and idealistic hearts, of giving the community men and
women who are well-balanced and conscious of their responsibilities to their country, is
to protect the family, for the family...is capable of giving to the universe the human
beings who are prepared to put justice and truth before their own personal
interests." From this conference emerged the Vanier Institute of the
Closely allied to the Governor-General's dedication to the family was
his interest in the youth of the country. During his time of office he strove continually
to bring Canadians to a fuller realization of the importance of their young people:
"Tell me the character of a nation's young people and I will tell you the future
of the nation."
The book also includes the core of the Governor General's
statements on education, reflections that have special meaning for every teacher and
educator in Canada. His views on public life and on the democratic ideal, and his great
desire for better understanding between English and French Canadians and for the
essential unity of the Canadian nation, also hold a place of prominence in these
The final section of the book is devoted to his intense concern for the
spiritual side of man's existence, for the ideals and values that set man apart and
allow him to hope for a better world.
Dr Wilder Penfield, head of the Vanier
Institute of the Family, who was a close friend of the Governor General, and Claude Ryan,
editor of Le Devoir, have written forewords for the volume.
About the authors
Georges Vanier, who served as Governor General of Canada from 1959 to 1967, was 26 when he was one of the first men to join the newly established Royal 22nd Regiment - known as the "Van Doos." He was in his second year in the Montreal firm of Dessaules and Garneau, and very much the son of a Montreal upper-class family. His service in the First World War shaped his character, and he often described the four years spent on the battlefields of Europe as the most rewarding of his life. Vanier, described by Maclean's as "Canada's moral compass," remains one of the most respected and deeply loved figures in Canadian public life.
George Cowley was attaché to the Governor General from early 1965 until General Vanier's death in 1967. He is now counsellor for cultural affairs at the Canadian Embassy in Washington.
Michel Vanier teaches political science and is co-ordinator of educational services at Collège Ahuntsic, Montréal.