Booth's Funeral

Booth family cenotaph in Beechwood Cemetary

J.R. Booth's funeral: December 10, 1925, two days after his death. Setting aside the world's concern about disarmament, the headline of the Ottawa Journal read, "J. R. BOOTH BREATHES HIS LAST IN METCALFE ST. HOME." In keeping with his simple tastes, his family intended the funeral to be quiet, but so many wanted to see the great man, that thousands were permitted into the house to see him as he lay in his bronze coffin in the bay window of the front room.

Right Honourable W.L. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada from 1921-1930 and from 1935-1948, ca. 1945 National Archives of Canada / C-027645

On the day of the funeral more than 5,000 people filled Metcalfe Street between Somerset and MacLaren to watch the funeral party leave; the procession led by hundreds of his workmen, was viewed by thousands of citizens who lined the streets in the bitter cold to watch the mile-long cortege pass. The chief mourners were family members, followed by the executive officers of J.R. Booth Limited. Then came the huge crowd of mourners, including Prime Minster W. L. Mackenzie King, a representative of the Governor General, former premiers, people from the Ontario and Quebec governments, consuls of foreign countries, representatives of railway and lumber corporations, bankers, police chiefs, generals, clergymen, union leaders, plus hundreds of former employees and private citizens from all walks of life. More than a thousand of his current employees attended the funeral.

Simplicity marked the procession and service. There were no pallbearers, no band, no music or singing, no uniforms, no ritual, nor any pretentiousness of any kind. Despite the expressed wish of the family that flowers be omitted, six cars carried floral tributes from the mansion on Metcalfe Street in Ottawa to the gravesite in Beechwood Cemetery, an acknowledgement of Booth's love of flowers and the respect he had gained.

As Prime Minister Mackenzie King said, "Mr. Booth was indeed one of the Fathers of Canada; it is not too much to say that it is to men of such sterling worth and indomitable will as he possessed, more than aught else, that we owe the development of our Dominion."