Garand, John Cantius, born 01-01-1888 as was one of twelve children on a farm near St. Rémi, Quebec Canada. His father moved to Jewett City, Connecticut, with the children when their mother died in 1899. The children were employed in a textile mill where Jean learned to speak English while sweeping floors. They lived near a gun club target range, and shooters left their rifles at the Garand home between matches. Jean and his brothers learned to shoot, and one of his brothers operated a shooting gallery. John was ten years old. as he attended school for just another year, only until the age of 11, and then started working in a Connecticut textile mill. He started as a floor sweeper, but learned as much as he could from the mill’s machinists. Jean learned machinist skills while working at the textile mill; and was hired by a Providence, Rhode Island, welding factory in 1909. He found employment with a New York tool making firm in 1916, and resumed rifle practice at the shooting galleries along Broadway.
His fondness for machinery and target shooting blended naturally into a hobby of designing guns, which however took a more vocational turn in 1917. That year the United States Army took bids on designs for a light machine gun, and Garand’s design was eventually selected by the War Department. Garand was appointed to a position with the United States Bureau of Standards with the task of perfecting the weapon. The first model was not built until 1919, too late for use in World War I but the government kept Garand on in a position as consulting engineer with the Springfield Armory.
In this position he was tasked with designing a semi-automatic infantry rifle and carbine. Designing the rifle took several preliminary designs and quite a bit of detail work stretching over fifteen years to perfect the model to Army specifications. The resulting M1 Garand was patented by Garand in 1934 and began mass production in 1936. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Garand had designed and built a prototype bull pup rifle. It fired the same cartridge as the M1 rifle, but the magazine, action and shape were completely different. It was a select-fire design, and had a firing rate of about 600rpm. When Garand retired in 1953, the second version of the T31 was incomplete, and remained so. The project was scrapped, and the gun was retired to the Springfield Armory museum in 1961. By the time the production stopped in 1957, 5.400.000 of his M1 “Garands” had been manufactured by Springfield Armory and three private contractors.
Garand married French Canadian widow Nellie Bruce Shepard, who was born 03-08-1900 and died 25-02-1986, on 06-09-1930 in Albany, NY. She had two daughters by her previous marriage, and they had a daughter and a son of their own.
For his work with the Springfield Armory, Garand was awarded the Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 1941, and the first Medal for Merit, together with Albert Hoyt Taylor on 28-0-3-1944. Garand never received any royalties from his design. A bill was introduced in Congress to award him $100,000 in appreciation, but did not pass.
Death and burial ground of Garand, John, Cantius.
Garand remained in his consulting position until his retirement in 1953, and died in Springfield, Massachusetts, age 86 on 16-02-1974 and is buried at Hillcrest Park Cemetery in Hampden County Massachusetts, in Section D.