7272 Division Street South

Alvin and Lillian Besant had this home built in 1969 on a lot formerly owned by the Green family. 1969 was also the year the Official Languages Act came into force. The Act “declared French and English to be Canada’s official languages “in all matters pertaining to the Parliament and Government of Canada”; it also declared their equality of status as well as equal rights and privileges with regard to their use in all institutions of Parliament and the Government of Canada. The 1969 Act expanded the scope of the constitutional guarantee regarding the use of French and English in Parliament and federal courts to cover all federal institutions, including federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations as well as quasi-judicial bodies and administrative agencies.”

History of Bilingualism in Canada

1867 – Section 133 of the British North America Act (now the Constitution Act) permits the use of either English or French in the debates of Parliament as well as in the proceedings before the federal courts. This section also provides that both languages must be used in the records and journals of Parliament, and that its laws must be enacted and published in both languages.

1927 – Postage stamps become bilingual.

1934 – The federal Translation Bureau is established by an Act of Parliament.

1936 – Bank notes become bilingual.

1959 – Simultaneous interpretation of the debates in both languages begins in the House of Commons.

1963-1970 – The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism is established and produces its reports.

1969 – Following the work of the Commission, the first Official Languages Act is adopted by Parliament. This Act recognized English and French as the official languages of all federal institutions in Canada. It grants equality of status of French and English not only in the Parliament or before courts, but also throughout the federal administration. The Act before federal courts and tribunals in the official language of their choice.

1969 – New Brunswick enacts its first Official Languages Act, making it Canada’s first, and only, officially bilingual province.




English Canadians – after years of questioning Quebec on what she really wants – have finally been handed an answer.

Quebec really wants to feel at home from coast to coast in her own country. Men and women of Quebec don’t want to feel like poor relations. They want their culture, language, heritage and economic aspirations to be respected and recognized throughout the country.

In the years since Confederation – while Quebec nursed and nourished her heritage and language – English-speaking Canadians and foreign interests moved in to develop the province economically.

Then in 1960 Quebec residents woke up to the sour fact that they were simply workers, not planners, pioneers and managers of their own province. This is the emotional whip-sting driving Quebec forward now.

The Kingsville Reporter, January 18, 1968 p.4

TRUDEAU AND FOE. Premiers Walter Weir, Manitoba, Ross Thatcher, Saskatchewan, Harry Strom, Alberta and John Roberts, Ontario, have all battled against the Official Languages Bill which would guarantee linguistic equality in Federal Government services where the number of residents speaking either language justifies it. The premiers want the bill put before the Supreme Court. This action stemmed from this week’s constitutional conference.

The Kingsville Reporter, February 13, 1969 p.2

BESANT: Alvin c. 1914-1998. Passed away peacefully in his sleep at the Leamington Nursing Home on Tuesday, August 25, 1998. Al has been the loving husband and best friend of Lillian (Mcdonald) for the past 55 years. He has been a devoted and most cherished dad to the late Linda Brown, (October 1997) and Alda Wigle-Klingbeil; a kind and respected father-in-law to Gary Brown and Henry Klingbeil. Al is predeceased by brother Bill, Norm and Joe. He leaves behind a sister Theresa Sterling and her husband Harry. He leaves behind grandsons, Dave Brown (Julie), Essex: Mark Brown (Darlene), Stratford: Dale Brown (Carrie), Kingsville: Chad Wigle, Windsor and granddaughter Crista Wigle, Calgary Alberts. Al had 5 great-grandchildren as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Al was retired for many years from Overland Western. Al was a kind and generous person who enriched the lives of family members and friends. Out of generosity he touched the lives of many individuals who never had the opportunity to meet him. He will be deeply missed.

The Kingsville Reporter, September 1, 1998 p.20

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