'Highway of Heroes' bears slain Canadian soldier home

Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:11pm EDT
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By Scott Malone

HAMILTON Ontario (Reuters) - The body of a Canadian soldier shot dead while guarding the country's war memorial in Ottawa returned to his hometown on Friday, after thousands of his countrymen paid tribute along the nation's "Highway of Heroes."

Crowds of people lined much of the roughly 500-km (310-mile) route along Lake Ontario while a black hearse accompanied by dozens of police vehicles bore the slain soldier, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, 24, back to Hamilton, Ontario.

Police said a home-grown radical, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, killed Cirillo on Wednesday before running into the Parliament building where he was shot dead near where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was meeting with lawmakers.

More than 1,000 mourners packed the street around the funeral home, raising their voices in a soft chorus of the Canadian national anthem as the motorcade bearing Cirillo's body arrived.

They watching silently as more than a dozen soldiers from his unit, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, dressed in ceremonial kilts, white boots and garters, carried his flag-draped coffin from the hearse while bagpipes played.

Cathy McLennan, 43, said she had come out to pay tribute to a man she had met through her ex-husband, who had served in the same unit as Cirillo.

"I remember him for the courage, the bravery, the selflessness. I just wanted to be here to support him and his family," said McLennan, who works from her home in nearby Burlington, Ontario.


Pallbearers from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada regiment carry the remains of Corporal Nathan Cirillo at a funeral home in Hamilton, October 24, 2014.  REUTERS/Mark Blinch