Skip to main content

Canada Quieter services in line with Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent’s personality

Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed when a Canadian man rammed two soldiers in Quebec with his car on Oct. 20, 2014.

Courtesy of the Canadian Forces/Reuters

Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was the sort of man who kept his own counsel, and funeral proceedings under way to mark his passing seem to be a reflection of the man.

The 53-year-old Air Force firefighter was the first of two Canadian soldiers to die in attacks earlier this month. A recent convert who wanted to become an Islamist insurgent drove a car into WO Vincent on Oct. 20 in a parking lot in St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., where he was based.

Some Canadians have wondered if the military and media have allowed WO Vincent's death to be overshadowed by the shooting of Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial in Ottawa two days later, but the Vincent family asked that it be this way.

Story continues below advertisement

A trickle of mourners passed on Friday through the massive funeral home on the edge of Longueuil, a Montreal suburb. It was a public visitation that took place as WO Vincent's family wished: in privacy and tranquillity.

There were no crowds, no makeshift memorials, no piles of flowers, no flags or other displays of patriotism. Cameras were at a distance as a few visitors filed in and out without a word, leaving a couple of military friends of WO Vincent to share a few thoughts.

"Pat was a quiet man who minded his own business, so I think this is the way he would have wanted things," said Warrant Officer Claude Desgagné, a fellow military firefighter who worked with WO Vincent over 20 years on the West Coast, the Prairies and in Ontario and Quebec. He added that his friend was gregarious once he got to know people.

Cpl. Cirillo's mourning was shared with the public, who lined the Highway of Heroes as his body was returned to Hamilton, Ont., streamed in for the visitation, and showed up by the thousands for his funeral or tuned in to live television coverage.

There will be none of that with WO Vincent. Stephen Harper will speak at the funeral on Saturday, but cameras will not capture the Prime Minister's tribute. Copies of his remarks will be made available after the private military ceremony.

What is known about WO Vincent seems to indicate he would appreciate the calm. While Cpl. Cirillo was active on social media where his handsome, smiling face beams from many photos and had dozens of civilian friends in his hometown of Hamilton, Mr. Vincent left a more discreet footprint.

WO Vincent was a bachelor who devoted his family life to his widowed mother, three sisters, and a brother. He joined the military in 1986, serving most of his career as one of about 300 military firefighters on bases across the country and warships around the world.

Story continues below advertisement

"Never pass a fault" was his motto, according to Major Rick Dunning of the Canadian Forces Fire Marshall's Office. "He was an easygoing, kind individual" who never sought attention but was open to anyone, Maj. Dunning said.

WO Desgagné teared up remembering his friend, who was a regular for dinner at his home as the two men hopscotched across the country to different bases. "When we were out west, I had a fire pit. He would bring his old wood and a bottle of water. Me, I was the one with a beer," said the warrant officer.

The military is trying to balance the family's wish for privacy with giving the officer his due praise. The servicemen interviewed Friday mentioned WO Vincent suffered a heart attack a few years ago which put an end to his firefighter career.

A military minder monitoring the interviews shut down further inquiries about the transition, saying the matter was private.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter