Provincial Grand Black Chapter of Ontario West

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Derry Day marches to a celebratory tune, but with a sad end at Georgetown

Posted on October 14, 2015 at 2:40 PM

1931 Celebrations in Georgetown, London and Midland as reported in the 1932 Report of Proceedings, The Toronto Daily Star newspaper, The Globe Newspaper
The Georgetown Herald and the Acton Free Press

The 242nd Anniversary of the Relief of Derry was commemorated in Ontario West on August 12th, 1931 by three parades in Midland, London and the largest one held in Georgetown. The Midland parade has no report. London a small write up which I shall talk on first and then the major coverage given to the parade in Georgetown.

London was announced in The Toronto Daily Star as the gathering spot for 10,000 Black Knights. Members from the surrounding area gathered to parade to Queen’s Park where the main speaker was the Premier of Ontario, Sir Knight George S. Henry and Sir Knight the Honourable T.A. Kidd, the speaker of the Ontario Provincial Legislature. Many other prominent members of the Provincial Chapter and even Robert Nookes who was the Grand Master of the Orange Young Britons. Other prominent included MPP Dr. J.C. Wilson, J. C. Moore K.C. MPP, Rev R. A. Spencer - Provincial Grand Registrar, Rev William Lowe – Past Grand Chaplain of Ontario West GBC, J. B. Armitage – Deputy Grand Master of Ontario West GBC, William Weir Past Grand Master of Ontario West GBC, John Bailey Past Grand Master of Ontario West.

The parade in London was conducted through the streets and a main feature was a women’s lodge from Hamilton. Also on parade were several bands and the main ones noted were Public School Cadet Band, Marion Stark Graham Kiltie Band, London’s Hackett Fife and Drum Band as well as others.

Meanwhile in Georgetown saw a gathering as well of Black Knights. The Globe had reported that close on 8,000 from the County Black Chapters of York, Peel, Simcoe, Halton, Wellington, Dufferin and Wentworth. In all 35 Preceptories were present on parade.

The parade was a success and organized by the local Georgetown RBP No. 797 committee of Sir Knights Fred Norton, Robert McCartney, Joseph Hall and Fred Woods.

The largest contingent to parade were the 19 Preceptories from the County of York (Toronto area) headed by County Master James B. Reid. They headed to Georgetown via a special train that left Union Station at 9:30 that morning.

Maiden RBP No. 96, the oldest preceptory on parade disembarked in Georgetown with 200 Knights filling into line.

They moved off from the Agricultural Park at 1:15 PM marching through the streets of Georgetown before returning back to the park.

On the Main Street of Georgetown a huge Arch was erected for the parade to pass under symbolically reprehensive of the Gates of Londonderry. The arch was decorated with streamers.

The host precptory of the day was Georgetown’s Cross and Crown RBP No. 797.

Preceptories from York County who paraded were, Maiden RBP No. 96, The Temple RBP No. 292, Maple Leaf RBP No. 337, Red Cross RBP No. 342, King Solomon RBP No. 344, Victory RBP No. 420, Wallace RBP No. 679, York RBP No. 686, A;exander Muir RBP No. 788, McCormack RBP No. 805, Northern Star RBP No. 835, Bethany RBP No. 842 (Weston), Excelsior RBP No. 846, Ulster RBP No. 870, Caleb’s Royal Line RBP No. 879, Harmony RBP No. 957, Aurora RBP No. 1061, Joshua RBP No. 1092 (Mimico) and Burning Bush RBP No. 1202.

The parade was formed at the Agricultural Park and the participants were described as follows in The Globe; “dressed in their impressive regulation attire, which consisted of a black frock coat, “top” or “plug” hat, white gloves, sash and apron, each carrying an Irish blackthorn cane.” The members were led by many bands and 3 noted from Toronto were the Tobermore and Wellington Flute Bands and the Ulster Fife and Drum Corps. While at the Agricultural Park all were welcomed by Mayor J. B. MacKenzie of Georgetown.

Another speaker, the main addresser was the Mayor of Toronto, W. J. Stewart. Stewart spoke of the rise in the “red-minded menace” referring to communism which he felt was detroying British laws and British traditions. He also strongly voiced opposition to any meetings held by them and that none present at the Georgetown parade should be anywhere near them.

Other Black Knight speakers in Georgetown included Honourary Colonel W.H, Price the Attorney-General, Loftus Reid, W.H. Tuck, Fred Dane and the Chairman A. A. Gray H.G.M. of British America.

Following the parade in Georgetown Park many sporting events took place as well as a band contest. In the park were several food booths and a midway. There followed a massive garden party and this was followed by a dance at the local Armouries played by Hay Baylers of Toronto.

Prizes were awarded for best fife and drum band best brass band, best pipe band and two also handed out for the best decorated houses on the route.

However the day in Georgetown ends on a sad note. Two Sir Knights from Toronto, Norman Watt and William Godber (both police officers in Toronto) were involved in a serious car accident returning from the events in Georgetown. While trying to pass a truck, Watt hit the rack of the truck and went off the road into the ditch. Godber was injured and take to Peel Memorial Hospital. Watt was pinned to the steering wheel as the car was laid on its side in the ditch. He was unconscious and pulled from the car. Sadly 51 minutes latter he died.

Submitted by Michael Thomas, Provincial Grand Registrar on Wednesday October 14th, 2015.


“Derry Day Celebration is widely attended”, The Globe (Toronto), Thursday August 13th, 1931

“Remember Derry Walls Black Knights on Parade”, The Toronto Daily Star (Toronto), Wednesday August 12th, 1931

“Knights will march under a Derry Arch”, The Toronto Daily Star (Toronto), Tuesday August 11th, 1931

“Derry Day marked by Black Knights”, The Toronto Daily Star (Toronto), Wednesday August 12th, 1931

“Fatal accident follows Derry Day Celebration”, Acton Free Press

“Derry Day Celebration at Georgetown” Georgetwon Herald

Report of Proceedings 1932


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