Friday, May 09, 2008

107 year old veteran a Canadian again

Well, this is most certainly a noble announcement...

May 9, 2008
Ottawa, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that John Babcock, Canada’s last known surviving veteran of the First World War, is to be granted Canadian citizenship in recognition of his military service to Canada and his expressed desire, at age 107, to become a citizen of the country where he was born.

“We are proud to welcome Mr. Babcock back into the Canadian family and to honour the service he gave our country,” said Prime Minister Harper. “He symbolizes a generation of Canadians who, in many ways, were the authors of modern Canadian nationhood. When Canada went to war in 1914 we were widely perceived as a mere colony of Britain. By the end of the war, the world recognized Canada as a proud and independent country. Mr. Babcock and his fellow servicemen helped make possible Canada’s coming of age and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

John Babcock was born on July 23, 1900 on a farm near Kingston, Ontario. As a teenager, he joined a Canadian Army youth battalion and was sent overseas as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

In the 1920s, Mr. Babcock moved to the United States. He became a U.S. citizen in 1946, and automatically lost his status as a British subject. The Canadian Citizenship Act, which legally established Canadian citizenship for the first time, only came into force in 1947.

Meetings with Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson prompted the decision to grant Canadian citizenship to Mr. Babcock. “He told me he considers himself a Canadian at heart,” said Minister Thompson. Last month he presented Mr. Babcock with a Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation in recognition of his contributions to the care and well-being of Veterans and to the remembrance of their sacrifices and achievements.

On hearing of Mr. Babcock and his wish to obtain Canadian citizenship, the Prime Minister urged his minister to act as quickly as possible. ”Mr. Babcock will become a Canadian citizen as soon as he takes the oath of citizenship,” Prime Minister Harper said. “This means the last known soldier to serve Canada in the First World War will forever be a Canadian.”

More information on Mr. Babcock and the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation can be found on the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site A copy of Mr. Babcock’s letter to the Prime Minister is also available on the Prime Minister’s website at

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