Deborah Cowley, an Ottawa-based writer and broadcaster, is also the author of Cairo, A Practical Guide and co-author of One Woman's Journey: A Portrait of Pauline Vanier.
Georges Vanier: Soldier
East Sandling Camp. 1 June 1915
"Captain Boyer and I are leaving for London to buy a motor car for the regiment. We will be staying at the Savoy."
Flanders. 27 October 1915. Diary entry: 4:00 p.m.
"Returned to the trenches. After two days of rain, they are in a deplorable state. There is mud up to our knees. The parapets have collapsed in several spots. The nights are frigid, our feet are cold, and we have not yet received our supplies of wood and charcoal."
In the field. 1 August 1918.
"You will pardon the brevity and the looseness of this letter when you know under what conditions it has been written. What you wish to know above all I can tell you at once. I am well - in fact I do not think I have ever been quite so well in body and in spirit. I have been protected in a special manner during the last three days. I have seen so many narrow escapes myself that I am beginning to think that one should not worry much about possible eventualities."
No. 8 British Red Cross Hospital, Boulogne. 6 September 1918.
"By this time you will have received reassuring cablegrams and field postcards and possibly letters from friends of mine.
"First, to be quite frank, I will admit that I have not been in fit condition to write a coherent letter …"
"... provides insights into the triumph of the human spirit over the worst of total war."
"Cowley constructs a carefully crafted backdrop. Her unobtrusive marginal notes and brief editorial comments provide necessary detail, but they do not detract from the power of Vanier's words. Readers will be swept along by Vanier's pride for his battalion, and his love for French Canada."
"Cowley has done a nice job of integrating the letters with diary entries, and has limited her contribution to a few well chosen contextual passages and footnotes."
"Deborah Cowley and Dundurn Press have done an excellent job of pulling together the writings of this remarkable man and adding useful commentary to provide continuity and explain the campaigns."
"... a fine legacy from one of the country's most illustrious leaders."
"I am certain almost anyone who respects Vanier and our war efforts will want to own this book. My understanding of Canadian history has been enriched."
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.