Cpl. Nathan Cirillo: Outpouring of emotion as 'Canada's son' comes home

Thousands of Canadians lined highway overpasses on a 600-kilometre stretch from Ottawa to Hamilton, Ont., Friday, waving flags and bursting into spontaneous renditions of "O Canada" to honour Cpl. Nathan Cirillo as a procession carried his body home, arriving shortly before 8 p.m. ET.

Procession with soldier's body travelled from Ottawa today along Highway of Heroes

Procession of honour

9 years ago
Duration 4:29
The body of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo arrives back in Hamilton, Ont.

Thousands of Canadians lined highway overpasses on a 600-kilometre stretch from Ottawa to Hamilton, Ont., Friday, waving flags and bursting into spontaneous renditions of "O Canada" to honour Cpl. Nathan Cirillo as a procession carried his body home. 

After a horrific event that has gripped the nation for days, Canadians came out to demonstrate their pride in their country and solidarity with those who dedicate their lives to military service. The emotion and grief was palpable along the route. 

And in Hamilton, the grief hit home as thousands of people lined the procession route on Main Street between Dundurn and Gage. It was dark by the time the procession arrived in the city. Cirillo's family released a statement thanking their fellow Canadians for support and sympathy for "Canada's son." 

Cirillo was killed in Wednesday's Ottawa shooting at the National War Memorial and was transported along the Highway of Heroes from the nation's capital to Hamilton. His body arrived in his hometown shortly before 8 p.m. on Friday.

After the sombre arrival of Cirillo's body, many made their way into city hall to sign the official book of condolences for the fallen soldier. (John Rieti/CBC)
Diana and Dave Richard visited the shrine to Cirillo at the armoury on James Street North before heading over to watch the procession on Main Street. The couple carried a Canadian flag and cheered the national pride the events of the week have fostered. But they said it was still a hard night. 

"We're proud to be Hamiltonians, and Canadians," Diana Richard said.

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"Unfortunately, we're a little emotional right now. I can't think of the right words to say," Dave Richard said. "But, it's been a tough few days. It's hurt. The landscape of Canada has changed. It's scary. A little bit scary."

As the procession neared Hamilton, Cirillo's family released a statement thanking the people who helped Cirillo after he'd been shot. The family has been deeply moved by support, sympathy and tributes to Cirillo, the statement said. 

"Nathan was Canada's son," the statement reads. "We've always thought we lived in the best country in the world. The people just proved it." 

Amid an outpouring of grief and remembrances of Cirillo's life, his regiment and hometown are busy working out the logistics for his funeral.

Cirillo's body will be taken to the Markey-Dermody Funeral Home on King Street East. One visitation period is scheduled — from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday. That visitation is open to the public. A previously announced Sunday visitation period will be private, the funeral home said.

The funeral is scheduled for 12 p.m. on Tuesday at Christ's Church Cathedral on James St. N. in Hamilton, said Bill Mous from the Anglican Diocese of Niagara. Details of the service are still being planned. 

CBC News in Hamilton will share more information as soon as it's available.

"It's a really difficult time for everybody," said Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina. "All of us are getting tremendous input from the public — suggestions, advice, as to what other memorial things could be done." 

Bratina said he's hearing from Hamiltonians in all corners of the city — near Sherwood Secondary School, in the east end where his family lived — who are working to honour Cirillo's life and service. Describing the mood in the city, Bratina told CBC's Metro Morning on Friday, "I've never seen anything like it." 

Last comforting words for Cpl. Cirillo

9 years ago
Duration 9:13
Interview with Barbara Winters. She passed Nathan Cirillo as he stood guard but moments later rushed back to try and save his life and finally, to comfort him

Cirillo lived in the Corktown neighbourhood, where Bratina also lives. Bratina said a spontaneous memorial has sprung up in Corktown Park, where Cirillo would bring his dogs. Cirillo's dog Kyah was well-loved by the neighbourhood kids, he said.

"Perhaps all of the necessary logistical preparation is probably easing the grieving portion," he said.

Bratina and Hamilton Police Services Chief Glenn De Caire will join the procession on behalf of the city and escort Cirillo into Hamilton Friday afternoon.

Vincent family sends condolences to Cirillo family

The family of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent issued a statement Friday expressing their shock and sadness at losing their loved one.

"His departure will leave an immense hole in our hearts," the statement, released in French, said.

Vincent was killed Monday when he was struck in a targeted hit and run in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. The 53-year-old had served in the military for 28 years. The RCMP say they have no evidence of a connection between Monday’s attack in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Wednesday’s shooting in Ottawa. 

The statement described Vincent as a "bon vivant" who was well liked and spoke with passion about his work with the Armed Forces.

"Serving [in the Forces] was his way of making a difference in our world," the statement said.

Vincent’s family also expressed their condolences for Cirillo's family and friends.

"Know that we share in your sorrow, and we sympathize with you with all our hearts," they said.

The family's thoughts are also with the family of Martin (Ahmad) Couture-Rouleau, the driver who killed Vincent, who are "going through difficult times," the statement said.

The funeral for Vincent will be held Saturday, Nov. 1, at the Longueuil Cathedral on Montreal's South Shore at 11 a.m. ET. Media won't be allowed inside the cathedral.

McMaster Marauders to display Argylls flag

The McMaster Marauders football team is heading to Ottawa to play Saturday at 1 p.m. ET, and the coaching team had been thinking about how it could do something at its game against the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees to honour Cirillo.

The team had been thinking about sewing patches on the uniforms, but when it contacted the Argylls, the regiment did them one better.

"They said they didn't have anything like that, but they could loan us their regimental flag," said assistant coach Al Anonech. "I was taken aback. Well, we'd be honoured to do that."

The team hasn't decided exactly how it will display the flag before the game, but Anonech said one of the team's "Hamilton-born-and-bred captains" will carry the flag out. 


  • A previous version of this story said the funeral for warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was Saturday. In fact, it is on Saturday, Nov. 1.
    Oct 24, 2014 5:26 PM ET