Headlines exploded for three years around the explosive figure of Jacques de Bernonville, wanted by a France that sentenced him to die as a traitor, unwanted by a Canada that found him too shrewd and well connected to get rid of. Here, for the first time, Maclean's tells what he did in France and how he stayed so long in Canada
ON AUGUST 17 last a fifty-four-year-old French nobleman with iron-grey hair, strong bullet-scarred features, erect soldierly bearing and a diplomatic air of composure, fled from Montreal to Rio de Janeiro after telling newsmen at Montreal Airport at Dorval: “I love Canada and I love Canadians.”
The compliment was received coldly by most readers for no other foreigner had ever caused such a bitter legal, political, racial and religious furore in this country as Count Jacques-Charles-MarieNoël Dugé de Bernonville.
In France De Bernonville stands accused of hunting, arresting, torturing and murdering a number of his own countrymen in the Resistance movement that fought, the Germans during the Nazi occupation and the struggle for liberation. He has been sentenced to death in absentia on counts of having had constant intelligence with the Germans from 1940 to 1944.
Yet, while thousands of other Europeans were denied admission to Canada solely on the grounds of ill-health, De Bernonville, who entered the country under a false passport, found shelter here for five years.
For at least four years of his stay De Bernonville had various well-paid jobs, lived comfortably in a small but smart apartment on Montreal’s Côtedes-Neiges Road, and was surrounded by friends who called on him in cars, one of which was a late-model Cadillac. For a part of the time he enjoyed the company of his wife and four daughters who also entered the country on the strength of false passports.
The story of how he won and held these benefices while national immigration tribunals, Quebec law courts and even the federal parliament itself probed and argued his right to them is one of the most bizarre in Canada’s recent history. (more...)