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'Today is the end of the eve for a giant': Brian Mulroney's state funeral honoured a former leader and family man

PM Justin Trudeau, Wayne Gretzky among family and friends gathering to honour the life of Canada's 18th prime minister

A state funeral for former prime minister Brian Mulroney was held at Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal on March 23, where invited guests bid farewell to a father, husband and former leader.

Mulroney died in a Palm Beach, Fl., hospital on Feb. 29 at the age of 84. His death was met with a wave of reaction from politicians and members of the public. The former PM is survived by his wife, Mila Mulroney, and their four children.

The two-hour ceremony included religious components, a tearful performance by Mulroney's granddaughter, Elizabeth Theodora Lapham, and concluded with a 19-gun salute as the former leader's casket was loaded into the hearse. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Wayne Gretzky and daughter Caroline Mulroney offered heartfelt eulogies that painted a portrait of a loving family man and a leader whose impacts are felt to this day. A private burial followed the service.

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  • Brian Mulroney's state funeral concludes with late former PM's rendition of 'We'll Meet Again'

    The casket of former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney is carried out at the end of his funeral, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, March 23, 2024.  Adrian Wyld/Pool via REUTERS
    The casket of former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney is carried out at the end of his funeral, in Montreal on March 23, 2024. Adrian Wyld/Pool via REUTERS

    RCMP honour guard carried former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's casket out of the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal at the conclusion of his state funeral.

    As his casket moved through the crowd, the late politician's voice could be heard crooning a rendition of "We'll Meet Again" by Vera Lynn.

    The bells of the basilica tolled 18 times to honour his place as Canada's 18th prime minister.

  • ‘My papa's favourite song’: Mulroney’s granddaughter performs tearful rendition of French song

    Elizabeth Theodora Lapham, wipes tears after singing
    Elizabeth Theodora Lapham, wipes tears after singing "Mais qu'est-ce que j'ai?" during the funeral for her grandfather, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

    Brian Mulroney's granddaughter, Elizabeth Theodora Lapham, struggled to maintain her composure as she sang what she called “my papa’s favourite song,” which was “Mais qu’est-ce que j’ai?” or “But what can I do?” in English.

  • 'What a beautiful state funeral': Canadians react to Mulroney's funeral on social media

    People watching former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's state funeral on Saturday at the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal shared their thoughts on social media, with many people expressing their respects for the late politician.

  • 'I'm wishing you good luck, son': Wayne Gretzky shares how Mulroney impacted his life

    Wayne Gretzky speaks during a state funeral of late former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who died on February 29 at the age of 84, at the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, Quebec, Canada March 23, 2024. REUTERS/Blair Gable/Pool
    Wayne Gretzky speaks during a state funeral of late former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who died on Feb. 29 at the age of 84, at the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal on March 23, 2024. REUTERS/Blair Gable/Pool

    NHL legend Wayne Gretzky delivered a eulogy to the funeral attendees outlining the personal reach former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had on his and his family's life.

    Gretzky said before he was set to take to the ice for game 3 of the Canada Cup, Mulroney's chief of staff contacted him saying the former prime minister wanted to have a call with him.

    Mulroney's call was simple: "I'm wishing you good luck, son," Gretzky recalled.

    Gretzky also touched on Mulroney's love for singing, recalling that while attending a wedding, he was seated at a table with the politician's wife Mila and the leader.

    "The prime minister kept looking at us saying, 'I'm going to sing tonight,' 'cause he loved to sing," Gretzky reminisced with a grin.

  • 'The sky was not the limit': PM Trudeau reflects on Mulroney's life, legacy

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a state funeral of late former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who died on February 29 at the age of 84, at the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, Quebec, Canada March 23, 2024. REUTERS/Blair Gable/Pool
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a state funeral of late former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who died on Feb. 29 at the age of 84, at the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal on March 23, 2024. REUTERS/Blair Gable/Pool

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touched on major milestones of Mulroney's distinctive political career in his eulogy, saying what made the former Canadian leader stand apart was his heart.

    "He loved this country with all his heart. ... He loved Canadians and hearing their stories," Trudeau said.

    Trudeau pointed to Mulroney's love for the environment, saying "the sky was not the limit with Mulroney," and that he literally wanted to fix the sky, referencing the ozone layer. He added that Mulroney was "never afraid to take on a fight," and that he "always stayed generous, charming and very funny."

    "Today is the end of the eve for a giant. He led the way for future generations," Trudeau wrapped in his address.

  • 'I miss you, daddy': Caroline Mulroney pays emotional tribute to her late father

    Caroline Mulroney, daughter of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, speaks at the pulpit during his funeral in Montreal on Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
    Caroline Mulroney, daughter of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, speaks at the pulpit during his funeral in Montreal on Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

    Brian Mulroney's only daughter, Caroline Mulroney, paid tribute to her father, painting a portrait of an endearing family man and sharing two things that mattered most to the former prime minister: Family and politics.

    She shared an anecdote of how her father surprised journalists on the eve of his election win.

    "It's my daughter Caroline's 9th birthday. In a moment of great achievement, he showed that family came first," Caroline shared.

    Caroline shared it was her father's defence for minorities that pointed her to her own flourishing political career.

    "To dad, everyone mattered," she said.

    Caroline Mulroney reacts as she speaks during a state funeral of her father, late former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who died on February 29 at the age of 84, at the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, Quebec, Canada March 23, 2024. REUTERS/Blair Gable/Pool
    Caroline Mulroney reacts as she speaks during a state funeral of her father, late former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who died on Feb. 29 at the age of 84, at the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal on March 23, 2024. REUTERS/Blair Gable/Pool

    "I will not surprise anyone by saying he had Canada under his skin. ... While he didn't like polls, he did like headlines, and the ones that have come out over the previous few weeks would have pleased him."

    She recalled on the last day from his hospital bed, Brian called out for his wife, Mila, asking her what was the plan for the day. Mila responded, asking what he'd like for her to plan for the day, to which Brian replied saying "nottin'," in his own way of saying "nothing."

    "I miss you, daddy," Caroline closed off saying.

  • Brian Mulroney's casket arrives at Notre-Dame Basilica

    Brian Mulroney's flag-draped casket arrives at Notre-Dame Basilica after a snowy funeral procession through the streets of Montreal.

    Family members follow as RCMP pallbearers carry the casket funeral of former prime minister Brian Mulroney at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
    Family members follow as RCMP pallbearers carry the casket funeral of former prime minister Brian Mulroney at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
  • Dignitaries arrive at Montreal's Notre-Dame Basilica ahead of state funeral

    Dignitaries, political leaders and invited guests braved the cold and snow as they made their way into the Notre-Dame Basilica as Brian Mulroney's state funeral is set to begin.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

    Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks to attend the funeral of late former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, Quebec, Canada March 23, 2024. REUTERS/Evan Buhler
    Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks to attend the funeral of late former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, Quebec, Canada March 23, 2024. REUTERS/Evan Buhler

    Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland

    Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland arrives to the funeral of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
    Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland arrives to the funeral of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

    Ontario Premier Doug Ford

    Ontario Premier Doug Ford arrives to the funeral of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
    Ontario Premier Doug Ford arrives to the funeral of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

    Quebec Premier Francois Legault

    Quebec Premier Francois Legault arrives to the funeral of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
    Quebec Premier Francois Legault arrives to the funeral of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

    Speaker of the House of Commons Greg Fergus

    Speaker of the House of Commons Greg Fergus arrives to the funeral of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
    Speaker of the House of Commons Greg Fergus arrives to the funeral of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

    Former Montreal Canadiens defenceman Serge Savard

    Former Montreal Canadiens defenceman Serge Savard arrives to the funeral of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
    Former Montreal Canadiens defenceman Serge Savard arrives to the funeral of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

    Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed

    Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed arrives to the funeral of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
    Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed arrives to the funeral of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

    United States ambassador to Canada David L. Cohen

    United States ambassador to Canada David L. Cohen, centre,  arrives to the funeral of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
    United States ambassador to Canada David L. Cohen, centre, arrives to the funeral of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
  • In photos: A glance back at previous state funerals held in Canada

    State funerals are public events held to commemorate former governors general, prime ministers, other members of the cabinet who died in office, and, at the cabinet's discretion, other eminent Canadians.

    Let's take a moment and take a glance at previous state funerals held in the country.

    Former Opposition Leader Jack Layton (2011)

    No other Canadian dominated the headlines like Jack Layton in 2011, making him the clear choice for Newsmaker of the Year by editors and news directors participating in the annual survey of newsrooms across the country by The Canadian Press. Layton received 90 per cent of the votes — one of the most overwhelming margins in the 65-year history of the CP Newsmaker voting. The coffin of the late NDP Leader Jack Layton sits under a spotlight during his state funeral at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto on Saturday, August 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
    Olivia Chow looks on as the casket of NDP leader Jack Layton leaves Roy Thomson Hall after funeral services on Saturday, August 27, 2011, in Toronto.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
    Olivia Chow looks on as the casket of NDP leader Jack Layton leaves Roy Thomson Hall after funeral services on Saturday, August 27, 2011, in Toronto.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
    The funeral procession for the late NDP leader Jack Layton, arrives at Roy Thomson Hall, in Toronto on Saturday, August 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
    The funeral procession for the late NDP leader Jack Layton, arrives at Roy Thomson Hall, in Toronto on Saturday, August 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

    Gov. Gen. Roméo LeBlanc (2009)

    Mourners pay their respects to the late governor general Romeo LeBlanc as he lays in state in the chapel at the Memramcook Institute in Memramcook, N.B. on Thursday July 2, 2009. LeBlanc died last week after a lengthy illness at age 81. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
    Mourners pay their respects to the late governor general Romeo LeBlanc as he lays in state in the chapel at the Memramcook Institute in Memramcook, N.B. on Thursday July 2, 2009. LeBlanc died last week after a lengthy illness at age 81. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
    Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, delivers a reading at the state funeral of former governor general, Romeo LeBlanc, from Saint Thomas Church in Memramcook, N.B. on Friday July 3, 2009. LeBlanc died last week after a lengthy illness at age 81.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
    Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, delivers a reading at the state funeral of former governor general, Romeo LeBlanc, from Saint Thomas Church in Memramcook, N.B. on Friday July 3, 2009. LeBlanc died last week after a lengthy illness at age 81.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
    Mourners head past Romeo LeBlanc's official portrait by artist Christan Nicholson while paying their respects to the late governor general as he lay in state in the chapel at the Memramcook Institute in Memramcook, N.B. on July 2, 2009. LeBlanc died last week after a lengthy illness at age of 81.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
    Mourners head past Romeo LeBlanc's official portrait by artist Christan Nicholson while paying their respects to the late governor general as he lay in state in the chapel at the Memramcook Institute in Memramcook, N.B. on July 2, 2009. LeBlanc died last week after a lengthy illness at age of 81.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

    Former prime minister Pierre Trudeau (2000)

    RCMP pallbearers carry the casket of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau up the stairs of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2000.  Trudeau will lie in state until Monday when he will be moved to Montreal, for  a state funeral Tuesday. (CP PHOTO/Adrian Wyld)
    RCMP pallbearers carry the casket of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau up the stairs of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2000. Trudeau will lie in state until Monday when he will be moved to Montreal, for a state funeral Tuesday. (CP PHOTO/Adrian Wyld)
    Justin Trudeau leans over and kisses the casket of his father former prime minister Pierre Trudeau during the lying-in-state ceremony at Montreal's city hall Monday, Oct. 2, 2000. A state funeral will be held Tuesday in Montreal. (CP PHOTO/Paul Chiasson)
    Justin Trudeau leans over and kisses the casket of his father former prime minister Pierre Trudeau during the lying-in-state ceremony at Montreal's city hall Monday, Oct. 2, 2000. A state funeral will be held Tuesday in Montreal. (CP PHOTO/Paul Chiasson)
    Margaret Trudeau weeps as she visits the flag draped casket of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau in the hall of honour of Parliament on Sunday, October 1, 2000.  Trudeau who died on Thurday will be transported by train to Montreal on Monday for a state funeral  in Montreal on Tuesday.  (CP PHOTO/Adrian Wyld)
    Margaret Trudeau weeps as she visits the flag draped casket of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau in the hall of honour of Parliament on Sunday, October 1, 2000. Trudeau who died on Thurday will be transported by train to Montreal on Monday for a state funeral in Montreal on Tuesday. (CP PHOTO/Adrian Wyld)

    Former prime minister John Diefenbaker (1979)

    Former prime minister John Diefenbaker lies in state in the hall of honour in the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Aug.17, 1979. (CP PHOTO/Peter Bregg)
    Former prime minister John Diefenbaker lies in state in the hall of honour in the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Aug.17, 1979. (CP PHOTO/Peter Bregg)
    The casket of former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker riding in a hearse as members of the RCMP walk along during his state funeral, Aug 19, 1979.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Bregg
    The casket of former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker riding in a hearse as members of the RCMP walk along during his state funeral, Aug 19, 1979. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Bregg
    The casket of former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker is carried by members of the RCMP during his state funeral, Aug 19, 1979.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Bregg
    The casket of former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker is carried by members of the RCMP during his state funeral, Aug 19, 1979. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Bregg
  • 'He is smiling down': Mulroney's respond to former PM's death and outpouring of support

    Brian Mulroney's three sons say there's no doubt their father would have been thrilled by this week's public tributes honouring his life, according to reporting by the Canadian Press.

    Bill McCarthy, who was photographer to former prime minister Brian Mulroney, takes a photo of the Mulroney family as they watch the last person pay their respects in front of the casket of the former prime minister as he lies in repose, Thursday, March 21, 2024 in Montreal.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
    Bill McCarthy, who was photographer to former prime minister Brian Mulroney, takes a photo of the Mulroney family as they watch the last person pay their respects in front of the casket of the former prime minister as he lies in repose, Thursday, March 21, 2024 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

    "He would have loved it. He is smiling down right now," Mark Mulroney said in an interview with his two brothers.

    In an interview with The Morning Show, Mulroney's son Ben said "We are having a tough go.. You are OK until you are not OK," when asked how the family was responding to the former PM's death.

    Nicolas Mulroney said the week has been emotional but that he and his brothers feel energized after hearing so many stories from Canadians about how his father impacted their lives.

    "I've told people that since his passing, his legacy has given me a superpower," he said. "While grief comes in waves, what I have experienced personally by the people that have come through the door has just been absolutely powerful and I'll be forever grateful."

    Prime Minister Brian Mulroney smiles with his youngest child Nicolas, five-years-old, on his lap during a luncheon speech in Buckingham, Que., Sunday, Dec. 16, 1990. (CP PHOTO/Fred Chartrand)
    Prime Minister Brian Mulroney smiles with his youngest child Nicolas, five-years-old, on his lap during a luncheon speech in Buckingham, Que., Sunday, Dec. 16, 1990. (CP PHOTO/Fred Chartrand)

    Nick says his father's example shows that "Canada is a place where possible can happen."

    "Just because you started out as a poor boy on the North Shore in Baie-Comeau (Quebec) doesn't mean that that's where you're going to end up," he said. "And he worked really hard. And Canada is a great country and he showcased exactly what you can do in this country."

  • Vote: Which accomplishment do you most associate with Mulroney's legacy?

    Brian Mulroney's reign as prime minister started with one of the largest political wins in Canadian history — after he and his Progressive Conservatives won a record 211 seats in the House of Commons in the 1984 federal election.

    During his time in office until 1993, his impact included brokering the free trade deal and acid rain treaty with the U.S., introducing the loonie, as well as his leading position in the fight against racial apartheid in South Africa. However, moves like the introduction of the GST and the Airbus scandal also led to unpopular opinions toward Mulroney.

  • What to expect from former PM Brian Mulroney's state funeral

    Sentinels stand guard as former prime minister Brian Mulroney lies in repose at St. Patrick's Basilica in Montreal on Thursday, March 21, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
    Sentinels stand guard as former prime minister Brian Mulroney lies in repose at St. Patrick's Basilica in Montreal on Thursday, March 21, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

    The funeral ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 23, 2024, at the Notre-Dame Basilica (110 Notre-Dame Street West) in Montreal.

    Yahoo News Canada will broadcast live coverage of the funeral from Global News here.

    The funeral ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 23, 2024, at the Notre-Dame Basilica of in Montréal. Prior to the ceremony, a funeral cortege, including a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) mounted escort, a Canadian Armed Forces escort and guard of honour, the Royal Canadian Air Force Band, and RCMP pallbearers, will make its way to the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal.

    The ceremony will feature religious components led by The Most Reverend Christian Lépine, Archbishop of Montréal, concelebrated by Miguel Castellanos, PSS, rector of Notre-Dame Basilica and Reverend Monsignor Francis Coyle, CSS, pastor of Saint Patrick’s Basilica. This will include prayers, readings, hymns and a communion.

    Eulogies will be offered by:

    Caroline Mulroney

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

    Pierre Karl Péladeau

    Wayne Gretzky

    James Baker

    Jean Charest

    Musical interludes will be performed by:

    Orchestre symphonique de Montréal

    OSM Chorus

    The Tenors

    Marc Hervieux

    Marie-Josée Lord

    Elizabeth Theodora Lapham, granddaughter of Brian Mulroney

    A 19-gun salute will be set off at the end of the ceremony from the Clock Tower Pier in Old Port of Montreal

    What honours come with state funerals?

    • The Government of Canada half-masted the National Flag of Canada on the Peace Tower and all federal buildings and establishments in Canada, from February 29 until sunset on the day of the funeral, March 23, 2024.

    • Federal state funerals in Canada are held to honour and commemorate present or past governors general, present or past prime ministers, and sitting members of the Ministry. In addition, any eminent Canadian may be offered a state funeral at the discretion of the Prime Minister.

    If you wish to offer condolences:

    Source: Canadian Heritage