John Cantius Garand (January 1, 1888 – February 16, 1974) was a designer of firearms best known for creating the first successful semi-automatic rifle to be put into active military service, the M1 Garand.
Garand was born in St. Rémi, Quebec in a French Canadian family, and moved as a child to rural Connecticut. He attended school until he was 11 years old, and then became employed in a textile mill, where he was later promoted to machinist. After gaining the necessary experience, he was hired by a tool factory in Providence, Rhode Island.
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. 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.
For his work with the Springfield Armory, Garand was awarded the Medal for Meritorious Service in 1941, and the Medal for Merit in 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. Garand remained in his consulting position until his retirement in 1953, and died in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1974.
Pronunciation of the name Garand is often disputed. It is pronounced variably as '[gəˈrænd] or [ˈgærənd].' While many would disagree, descendants of John Garand along with close friend Julian Hatcher generally agree it should indeed rhyme with 'errand.' The former pronunciation, however, is the more common though technically incorrect  pronunciation. Nevertheless, the real pronunciation of the French patronymic is [garɑ~] (final nasal a).