Last Post Fund: a history of service and dedication

Last Post Fund

Rear-Admiral (Retired) Barry Keeler, Last Post Fund ~

On a cold night in December 1908, an unconscious homeless man was taken by two police officers to the Montreal General Hospital. Allegedly inebriated, he was left in a room to sleep it off.

A while later the Head Orderly Arthur Hair, a ­veteran of the South African War, noticed an envelope sticking out of the poor man’s coat pocket. It contained an honourable discharge certificate issued to Trooper James Daly by the Great Britain War Office. Daly had served for 21 years under the British flag and this document was his sole possession.

Trooper Daly was not drunk but suffering from malnutrition and hypothermia. He died two days later at age 53. His unclaimed body would be turned over to medical researchers before disposal in a pauper’s field.

Deeply shocked by the Empire’s disregard for its veterans, Hair raised money from friends and colleagues to give the soldier a dignified burial worthy of his many years of patriotic service.

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

The early work of the Last Post Fund was exclusively supported by private donations. Then in 1921, it was federally incorporated and began receiving regular financial support from the Canadian Government.

Since its humble beginnings, the Last Post Fund has ensured that no eligible veteran is deprived of a dignified funeral, burial and headstone for lack of financial resources. Its primary mandate is to deliver the funeral and burial program on behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada. To date, over 160,000 veterans from across Canada have received financial assistance under this Program.

Eligible Veterans include:

  • A former member of the Canadian Forces;
  • A Canadian Merchant Navy Veteran; and
  • An Allied Veteran who meets certain conditions.

In addition, the Last Post Fund owns and operates the National Field of Honour located in Pointe-Claire, Quebec. Established in 1930, this military cemetery, the first of its kind in Canada, has become the final resting place for more than 22,000 veterans and loved ones. The Field of Honour is available to veterans from across Canada.

In 1996, the Last Post Fund created a program mandated to place a military headstone on the gravesite of veterans who do not have a marker. It is estimated there remains some 4,000 unmarked graves in Canada. It is a huge challenge to find these sites and the Last Post Fund looks to everyone for help in making their discovery and reporting their whereabouts.

Visit www.lastpostfund.ca or call 1-800-465-7113 for information on how to make a charitable donation.

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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