A continuous flow of mourners paid their respects to Cpl. Nathan Cirillo during a public visitation in Hamilton, Ont., on Monday, saying goodbye to the soldier who was murdered while standing guard at National War Memorial on Parliament Hill last week.

Cirillo – a reservist soldier who stood as a ceremonial guard watching over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the monument – was fatally shot by a gunman who then continued on a shooting rampage inside the Parliament Buildings.

The gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was eventually shot and killed after an exchange of gunfire with security officials, including a fatal shot fired by Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers.

The entire country has been united in grief over the death of the Hamilton native for almost a week. Cirillo was first honoured in an Ottawa funeral home, before his body was then transported along the Highway of Heroes to his hometown.

On Monday, Cirillo was honoured by Hamilton Police officers on horseback, standing on ceremonial guard outside the front doors of the Markey-Dermody Funeral Home.

Mourners queued up to sign a book of condolences before entering funeral home, where Cirillo lay in an open casket wearing full regimental uniform, his white-gloved hands folded across his chest. Two members of Cirillo’s regiment -- the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders -- flanked the casket.

“Going in, you feel the heartache. When you come out, you can’t help it because everyone is crying,” one mourner said, wiping tears away from her eyes.

Robin Laffier, who served with the 11th Field Regiment in Hamilton, paid his respects Monday, along with his wife.

“It could have just as easily been my son. He is 24 years old (as well),” Laffier said.

“That young man, he died doing a service to the country. We all are so proud of him,” Laffier’s wife added.

Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina said Cirillo’s life was cut short too soon.

“We’re taking so much pride in what he did and that only increases the sadness and grief of the terrible way he lost his life,” Bratina said.

Outside the Hamilton armoury, mourners have left a collection of Canadian flags, cards, posters, notes and flowers that are growing by the minute.

“It’s nice that everybody across this country is doing memorials in memory of him,” said one mourner outside the Hamilton armoury on James St. North.

“It was just shocking because there is so much going on lately and you wouldn’t think it would be someone so close to home,” another mourner said.

On Tuesday, Cirillo will be honoured will a full regimental funeral, following a procession that will make its way from a local park all the way to Christ’s Church Cathedral in Hamilton. Thousands of mourners are expected to line the streets to say a collective goodbye to the corporal.

After the private ceremony, Cirillo’s coffin will be buried in a Hamilton cemetery’s field of honour.


With files from CTV National Scott Laurie and The Canadian Press.