CBC Digital Archives

Last Canadian First World War veteran turns 107

Those who served during Canada's wars expected danger at the hands of the enemy. But they were ill prepared for the fight that awaited some of them at home. Most veterans were welcomed home with open arms and assistance in putting their lives back in order. But several groups — native Canadians, Métis, merchant mariners and Hong Kong prisoners of war — found themselves ignored and denied the recognition and benefits so crucial to rebuilding their lives. For them, the fight would last another half century.

We wear poppies on our coats every November. We observe a moment of silence at 11 a.m. each November 11. But why do we do it? What is Remembrance Day all about? The way we mark the day has certainly evolved over the years, but it still holds special meaning to countless Canadians. CBC Digital Archives looks at the significance and the symbols of Remembrance Day.

Jack Babcock is Canada's last living First World War veteran. He was just a young boy of 15 when he enlisted. He had to lie about his age in order to do so. And although Babcock never actually saw combat, he nevertheless has some fascinating tales to tell about his time overseas with a "wild bunch of kids from the colonies." In this 2007 CBC-TV report, we learn more about Babcock's long life and wartime experiences as the veteran celebrates his 107th birthday.
• John Henry Foster "Jack" Babcock was born on July 23, 1900 in Frontenac County, Ont.

• After the war, Babcock moved to the U.S. in the 1920s and became a naturalized American citizen. There was no such thing as Canadian citizenship prior to 1947 - up until then, Canadians were just considered British subjects living in Canada. So in 2008, Babcock sought out Canadian citizenship and officially became a Canadian citizen at a special ceremony in his living room in Spokane, Wash.

• Babcock died in February 2010 at the age of 109.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: July 23, 2007
Guest(s): Jack Babcock, Vincent Babcock
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Duration: 4:31

Last updated: February 23, 2012

Page consulted on March 28, 2012

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