31 March 2018

Jubilee Riots, Epilogue

On November 27, 1889, Bishop John Walsh of London, who had preached a sermon at the First Provincial council detailing how the Catholic Church was correct fourteen years earlier, came to take possession of his new See as the second Archbishop of Toronto following the death of Archbishop Lynch eighteen months earlier.  Some young men belonging to the Orange Lodge came to his procession and stoned his carriage as it made its way to St. Michael's Cathedral.  His driver was injured, and a stone came through the window of the new archbishop's carriage, striking Walsh on the arm, bruising it badly.  The stone trhowers then turned their missiles on a nearby convent and school, smashing many of the windows.  No arrests were made.  Newspapers and police claimed the fault lay with the archbishop and his driver, who changed the agreed upon route along the way, thus arriving at the Cathedral along a street the police were not protecting.  

As much as can be said of the clashes between the Orange and the Green in Toronto, this was an isolated incident: it had no prelude and no sequel, except the long history of every clash and interaction of the Catholics and the Protestants, long memories, and longstanding bitterness.  Unlike when the earlier Young Britons threw stones at the Jubilee Processions, there would be no meetings, no martialing of the police forces nor of the troops.  It was a different set of Young Britons this time.  Other figures from our story were gone as well.  Obviously Bishop Lynch was gone. Mayor Medcalf was also dead.  The seven men who had followed him to the Mayor's Office by the time of Walsh's arrival had all been members of the Loyal Orange Lodge.  The Orange Lodge would continue its stranglehold on the Mayor's office for decades into the twentieth century.    Chief of Police Draper had retired a few years earlier due to health.  Col Ogle R. Gowan had died less than a year after he addressed the meeting between the riots. He would not be able to again denounce the stone throwers as being utterly devoid of Orange principles.    

The newspapers had changed and were changing as well.  George Brown, father of Confederation and founder and editor of The Globe, was dead by now as well, having died of an infection after he had been shot in the leg by a disgruntled former employee.  His paper went on, though. Patrick Boyle was still publishing his Irish Canadian, though he avoided religious topics by now.  He also stopped supporting the Liberal/Reform party shortly after the Jubilee Riots, and switched his support to the Conservatives, only to abandon his support of the Conservatives after they had run a 'no popery' campaign in 1886. He'd had repeated falling outs with Bishop Lynch, the last being not long before Lynch's death.  The two of them had not reconciled after the last, and never would.   The Mail, which had been founded as the Conservative paper in Toronto, had declared its political independence from any party in the 1880's, prompting Sir John A. MacDonald to found a new paper, The Toronto Empire.  The two would merge to become The Mail and Empire in 1895.  In 1936 it would merge with its old rival The Globe to become The Globe and Mail.   The Leader would go before any of them, however, and would be gone not long after the Jubilee Riots, the only trace of its existence now a short alley in downtown Toronto next to the King Edward hotel called Leader Lane, as it was where once stood the head offices. 

Had nothing changed in the years between the Jubilee Riots and Archbishop Walsh's journey to the Cathedral?  Orangemen were still throwing stones at Catholic processions, and still denying responsibility for it.  The papers had all believed that the Jubilee Riots and the Guibord Affair had both proven that it would be law that prevailed in Canada, with The Leader going so far as to blatantly say that the Catholic religion would be brought to heel and forced to submit to the law of the Empire.  Yet, once again, peaceful Catholics were getting stoned by Orangemen.  Was it all for nothing, then? 

The argument could be made that the Catholics had won a victory in the Jubilee Riots.  They had finally been given protection by the state. Their right to take to the streets and to be visibly present in the life of the city had been confirmed.  But it could also be argued that it was a Pyrrhic victory.  A few months after the Jubilee Riots, there was another large and largely Catholic procession on St Patrick's Day.  It began with a Mass, which featured sermons about the sufferings of the Irish people and their special place in God's heart and plan, and Archbishop Walsh asking all the men to raise their hands and swear that they would forever strive to bring Home rule to Ireland.  the Procession made it way through the city, passing by several Orange Lodges along the way, and ultimately ended up at the La Salle Institute where a stage had been set up and more nationalist speeches about Ireland and her scattered children were made.  At no point were they molested, nor was any attempt made to hinder them 

The Irish Canadian enthusiastically reported the events of St Patrick's Day, reprinting the speeches and order of the march both in Toronto and all around Ontario for two issues following the day.  Boyle himself was a prominent speaker in the Toronto parade.  Then, on the third issue, the paper shifted gears, and wondered if it would not be better to do without such displays and processions.   He could not have been the only one.  The parade from the next year, 1877, marked the last St. Patrick's Day parade in Toronto for more than a century.  The Orange Day Parades, however, went on for almost the entire century. The Orange Lodge of Toronto seems to have become famous to the point of stereotype.  G.K. Chesterton, writing in the 1920's, has his Father Brown explain the actions of Sir John Cockspur with the words: "well, he's a Toronto Orangeman."1 Clearly, Chesterton thought no further explanation was necessary.  Toronto's reputation as the Belfast of Canada would continue.  Having fought so long and hard to be allowed to take to the streets, the Catholics now began to retreat to within, and concede the streets to the Protestant rivals. 

Was it all in vain, then? Not entirely.  There is nothing so old, said Emperor Claudius, that there not a time when it was once new.  The transition of Catholics from an outlying group to full citizens of the city of Toronto had to begin somewhere and had to take many steps along the way.  The Jubilee Riots of 1875 were, if not such a beginning, at least one of the steps, albeit a faltering one, along the way.  For the first time, the police were called out in force to protect the Catholic minority of Toronto.  Less than twenty years earlier, that would have been unthinkable.  Archbishop Lynch had stated that he would not cancel the processions because it would be a stigma on the city name and the reputation of British justice if it could be said that the mob ruled Toronto, and not the law.  The processions forced the police and the council to come to the aid of the Catholics and protect them like they had never been protected before.  The Catholics were finally being given full rights as citizens of the city- the rights they had been promised, as Archbishop Lynch never tired of saying, in the Treaty of Paris of 1793. 

Which is not to say that all attacks on Catholics ended that day.  Clearly, as Archbishop Walsh discovered on his procession, they were still happening fourteen years later.   

But things were getting better.   

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