France knights Davenport
By Chris Lackner and Jessica Leeder
50 million Frenchmen can't be wrong
He is a president. He is a doctor. He is a scholar. It only makes logical
sense that Western President Paul Davenport has now become one of the Knights
Last Monday, in a ceremony at Gibbon's Lodge, Davenport was presented
with the Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur [Knight of the Legion of Honour]
by Hugues Goisbault, the Consul General of France in Toronto, for outstanding
service to the French nation.
Presently, a 20-year period of exemplary public service or 25 years
of professional work are required to be considered for the French knighthood.
Once awarded, being named a Knight of the Legion of Honor is a lifetime
"The Legion d'honneur was created by Napoleon in 1802 and was originally
meant for soldiers of great honour," Goisbault said, "It was expanded to
recognize foreigners who have strengthened the ties between France and
He said the foreigners who have received the award number approximately
ten people, including the former premier of Ontario, David Peterson. "This
award is a symbol of France recognizing its friends," he said.
Davenport has heavily promoted academic exchanges between France and
Canada and noted the Davenport family's lengthy and rich personal history
with France and its various regions, Goisbault said. "[Paul Davenport]
loves France, its landscape, its weather and its 19th century writing.
[He] also loves France due to his love of a French lady."
Davenport met his wife of 32 years, Josette Brotons, while attending
Stanford University in France in 1967, he explained, noting his family
returns to France every summer. "When I got to France I realized the historical
importance of our second language. I learned there was a world outside
North America," he said.
"1967 changed my life and the lives of Josette and my children in ways
I'm ever thankful for," he said.
He praised France for its extraordinary traditions and its desire to
maintain them. "This award recognized the wonderful links between Western
and [various] French universities, as well as the ties between Canada and
France that go back three or four hundred years."
Stephen Adams, a member of Western's Board of Governors, said the award
reflects the high degree Western places upon French and the arts.
"It recognizes Dr. Davenport's commitment to France and honors him for
the warm relationship Western has with the French language," Adams said.