If Canada’s oldest civil servant (In point of years in Government employment) fails to write his memoirs as his friends are urging, invaluable Canadiana and a unique record of old Civil Service days in Ottawa, and of historic episodes in the environs of the House of Commons in the Eighties and Nineties, will be lost.
(Ottawa Journal, 3 Feb 1944, 5)
John Routh Munro was born in Ottawa on 12 August 1874. He was a venerable civil servant with the Trade and Commerce Department and a commanding officer of the 5th (The Princess Louise) Dragoon Guards. He raised the 8th Mounted Rifles from Ottawa beginning in January 1915.
In October 1915, the battalion sailed for England where it was broken up. Many of his men were drafted to the 4th CMR and Munro returned to Ottawa. He resumed his civil service career with the Dominion Bureau of Statistics.
By the time he retired in 1944, Munro was the longest-serving government official with fifty-seven years under eleven prime ministers. His historic career began in 1886, when as a twelve-year-old page he witnessed the famous clashes between John A. Macdonald and Wilfrid Laurier, a time he remembered when “debates were full of fire and when eloquence was commonplace.”
He died in Ottawa in September 1953.