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About the Last Post Fund


 

 

The Last Post Fund’s mission is to ensure that no Veteran is denied a dignified funeral and burial, as well as a military gravestone, due to insufficient funds at time of death.

Its primary mandate is to deliver the Veterans Affairs Canada Funeral and Burial Program which provides funeral, burial and grave marking benefits for eligible Canadian and Allied Veterans.

In addition to delivering the Funeral and Burial Program, the Last Post Fund supports other initiatives designed to honour the memory of Canadian and Allied Veterans. It owns and manages its own military cemetery, the National Field of Honour. Moreover, the Last Post Fund has created the Unmarked Grave Program which is meant to provide military markers for unmarked Veterans’ graves.

The Last Post Fund is supported financially by Veterans Affairs Canada and by private donations.

"To honour and protect in death seems
but a small return to those
who have protected their country in life."

Arthur Hair, founder


A Brief History

 

 

December 1908. Two policemen find a homeless man huddled in a doorway of downtown Montreal. Unconscious, the man is taken to the nearby General Hospital where he is quickly diagnosed as being a drunk and taken to a room where he could sleep it off.

When the head orderly Arthur Hair looks on the so-called drunk, he notices a blue envelope sticking out of the man’s pocket. Being a Veteran of the South African War, Hair is familiar with that type of envelope. Issued by Britain’s War Office, it contains the honourable discharge of one Trooper James Daly, who has served the Empire for more than 20 years.

This blue envelope represents his sole possession.

However, Trooper Daly was not drunk. Instead, he was suffering from hypothermia and malnutrition. He died 2 days later, still unconscious, at age 53. Since his body was unclaimed, his remains would be turned over to science for medical research, as was customary in those days.

Hair was utterly shocked by the Empire’s disregard for its Veteran. So he raised money from friends and colleagues to give the soldier a decent and dignified funeral. Daly was then buried at the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery on Mount-Royal.

This was the catalyst for the creation of the Last Post Fund in Montreal, in April 1909.

Trooper Daly was the first of nearly 150,000 service men and women for whom the Last Post Fund has provided financial benefits over the past century.

Ever since its creation, the Last Post Fund has never failed to its mission of ensuring that no eligible Veteran is deprived of a dignified funeral and burial, and of a military grave marker, for a lack of financial resources at time of death.

Our main objective is to ensure that no Veteran will ever experience the same fate as Trooper Daly.

The early work of the Fund was exclusively supported by private donations. Then in 1921, it was federally incorporated and began receiving regular financial support from the Canadian Government. Public support allowed the Last Post Fund to expand its operations coast to coast. In 1998, the Last Post Fund became the sole administrator of the Veterans Affairs’ Funeral & Burial program.

A national non-profit organization, the Last Post Fund’s operations are based in four (4) distinct regions, that is, Atlantic, Québec, Ontario and Western. Its head office is located in Montreal.

 

The First Interments

 

 

Early in its beginnings, the Last Post Fund had purchased two plots on Mount-Royal (the first in Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery for Catholics, the second in Mount-Royal cemetery for Protestants), in order to provide financially destitute Veterans with decent burials.

The first formal interments took place there on 7 May 1910.

Then, the First World War came and went, leaving a death toll of six hundred and fifty thousand (650,000) Canadians.

Soon enough, the two plots on Mount-Royal were filled to capacity, so the Last Post Fund decided to buy its own piece of land.

In April 1929, the Québec Branch of the Fund purchased six acres of land adjacent to the Lakeview Cemetery in Pointe-Claire. This piece of land would become the National Field of Honour,  owned and managed by the Last Post Fund.

Officially consecrated in September 1930, the National Field of Honour’s inauguration was widely covered by the media. For instance, a Montreal paper wrote that it must be “one of the Empire’s most beautiful cemeteries”.

It is now the final resting place for more than 20,000 servicemen and women, and their close ones. They are both Canadian and Allied Veterans, the latter from the U.S., France, Belgium, Italy, Britain, Australia, Greece, and so on…

Dr. Serge M. Durflinger has written a history of the first 90 years of the Last Post Fund. Entitled "Lest We Forget" in English and "Je me souviens" in French, his book has been described as a “readable and profusely-illustrated account which sensitively places the Last Post Fund within the context of Canada’s unfolding social and military history.” Copies are available for purchase through our Website.