Lieutenant Colonel R. A. de la B. Girouard
178th (Canadien-Français) Battalion
There is a fine fibrillary Tremor of hands & tongue on Exam.
Insomnia with frequent migraine over left side & is all the time “nervous.” Is unable to walk a mile at ordinary Military rate. Says he notices he is very irritable at times & has “fits of depression.”
(Medical History of Invalid, 24 Apr 1919)
René-Arthur de la Bruère Girouard traced his family linage to the earliest French settlers in the 17th Century and was a direct descendant of Governor Pierre Boucher (1622—1717). A native of Quebec City, Girouard was born on 29 January 1882. He joined the Royal Leister Regiment at eighteen but left the army to work as a civil engineer and supervise track construction of the Pacific Railway in British Columbia.
He fought with the 22nd Battalion as a captain until he was blown up by a landmine on 1 October 1915 and buried by a shell later that day. Concussed and shell shocked, he returned to Canada, where he as was appointed to raise the 178th from Montreal. In a recruitment speech, Girouard explained, “it will only be at the conclusion of the war that this country will fully realize what a part Canadian soldiers have played.”
I also believe that one of the Kaiser’s most bitter disappointments in the present war is the fact that the Canadians have made so good and that the Canadian units are one more tough nut for the Prussians to crack.
(Montreal Gazette, 19 Jan 1916, 4)
After the 178th was broken up in March 1917, Girouard took command of a depot battalion in Quebec. He later led reinforcement drafts and a Laval University company overseas in 1918. However, he never returned to the front. As one medical report observed on demobilisation, following the explosion three years earlier, “has been nervous since.”
After the war, Girouard promoted veterans’ welfare and was active in the British Empire Services League. During the Great Depression, he helped to find shelter and relief for poor veterans in Ottawa. He also participated in the 1936 Pilgrimage to the unveiling of the Vimy memorial. In 1922, he was appointed warden of St. Vincent de Paul penitentiary and later became a supervisor with the R.C.M.P. and the Justice Department.
Girouard died on 10 January 1941 at the age of fifty-eight.
Digitized Service File (LAC):