Wednesday, Sept 29- Friday, October 1, 1875
In the days following the riot, posters began appearing around the city.
All LOYB (Loyal Order of Young Britons) are requested to attend a district meeting on Wednesday Night.
By Order District Manager.
A reporter from The Mail attending the meeting asked the District Manager what the purpose of the meeting was to be. The Manager's answer was that they were to get together all those who were inclined to be demonstrative, along with the Young Britons and any who took an earnest interest in the institution "in order that, as a body, they might determine upon their course, as they had been brought so prominently into the affair."1
The reporter took his place amongst the Young Britons, a group of "respectable looking young fellows"2, as they unanimously adapted the following resolution.
It has been the practice of the newspapers of this city when reporting any disturbance in which numbers of young men engage, to classify them as "Orange Young Britons" thereby doing us great injury throughout the country.
Resolved, therefore, that we emphatically deny that the O.Y.B. as a body ever yet participated in any such disturbance. No doubt there have been individual members of our Society who have engaged in such, but the great majority of participants are not members of our Society. We do not think, therefore, that in justice we should be saddled with the whole blame. Our share we willingly have.3
As seen earlier in The Mail, and again at the City Council meeting of Monday, the Orders denied they had anything to do with the riot, though individual members were a part. This would be an ongoing theme throughout the week.
The same night as the Young Britons' meeting, the Orange Lodge had their regular meeting. Like their younger affiliates, they too adopted a series of resolutions. Unlike the Britons, they did not merely deny any share of the blame: they blamed others for what happened.
1.Resolved: That this meeting views with the deepest sorrow and regret the various parading through the public streets of the city which have been so persistently carried out on each Lord's Day during the last few months under the name of pilgrimages, whereby the public mind has been disturbed, the public peace endangered and in many instances violated.
The pilgrimages had happened more than two months earlier on a few weekends, and then into hiatus, so this resolution was misleading. Also, there is no mention of banners, thurifers, bands and other Catholic embellishments which had been named in the Requisition: merely marching in the streets was enough to threaten the public peace. Also, as The Irish Canadian would point out, there is also no mention of just who disturbed the peace.4 The resolution implies that the peace was disturbed by processions, not by people attacking the processions.
They next resolution continues to lay blame on processions, and offers the Lodge’s solution to the problem: ban processions.
2. Resolved: That the Sabbath Day having been specially set apart by the laws of God, and of the country, as also by the usages and customs of society at large, to be observed as a day of rest and tranquility, this meeting conceives that all collections of people marching in procession and accompanied by peculiar dresses, banners, bands and music (other than funerals which are the last dead march to the grave and distinguished from all other gatherings by crepe and mourning badges) should be prevented by the proper authorities, and no ground given for disturbing the tranquility of the Sabbath Day, or for the violence, disorder and bloodshed which has so recently disgraced the city.
As before, the pilgrimages give ground for riots. No processions, no riots. The language of the resolution also casts Catholics as outsiders, the other. Their ministers have ‘peculiar dresses’ and their actions are contrary to the ‘usages and customs of society at large’. Simply existing visibly as the other is sufficient provocation for ‘bloodshed’.
However, not all processions are to be discouraged:
3. Resolved: That this meeting has no desire to interfere with the proper Commemorations of St George, St Patrick or St Andrew, nor with the anniversaries of the Boyne, the Nile, Trafalgar, Waterloo and other grand commemorations of national interest and importance, provided only that such commemorations shall not be celebrated by public processions or otherwise on the Sabbath Day.
It should be noted that none of those ‘proper commemorations’ of ‘national interest and importance’ is specifically Catholic. While St Patrick is most commonly associated with Catholics, his day is named here as a day of national importance. As such, the day was shared by both Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Toronto quite frequently ended in riots.
Returning back to the question of Catholic processions:
4. Resolved: That the practice of pilgrimages and other public processions, the lining of the streets through which the processionists march, the playing of music, and singing, the sprinkling of holy water and other, like unusual performances so recently introduced, are calculated to inflame the public mind, to lead to strife and disorder, and ought therefore to be suppressed.
Once again, Catholics are seen as outside of society. Their marches are ‘unusual’, they have been ‘recently introduced’- and why? Solely for the purpose of causing strife. The same people who regularly and deliberately marched through the Catholic section of town to celebrat Orange Day could conceive of no other reason for a procession than to provoke one's rivals. In conclusion:
5. Resolved: That this deputation be appointed to wait upon is Worship, the Mayor, requesting that he will call a public meeting of the citizens at large to take these matters into consideration and devise the best means to prevent the recurrence of evils so much to be deprecated. 5
The meeting requested in the fifth resolution was called for on the night of Friday, October First.
Meanwhile, rumours about the next procession were circulating throughout the city. Catholics from Montreal would be coming to cause trouble. The Catholics were prepared to be armed. The next procession could cause real bloodshed. As such, on Thursday Mayor Medcalfe wrote to the Archbishop:
CHIEF CONSTABLE’S OFFICE
TORONTO, Sept, 1875.
The Right Reverend John Joseph Lynch, Archbishop of Toronto, St Michael’s Palace:-
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR GRACE,- The Board of Police Commissioners have been informed that it is the intention of the members of some of the congregationists of your Diocese in this city to walk in procession through the streets of the city on Sunday next, and to carry revolvers and other weapons. The Board Hopes that your Grace will exercise your influence, and, if possible, prevent the processionists from carrying any such arms or weapons.
The board are of opinion that if the processionists are unnamed and peaceable, and rely upon the police for protection, that serious disturbance may be avoided.
The Board have adjourned until to-morrow at 10 a.m., awaiting your Grace’s reply.
I have the honour to be,
Your Grace’s Obedient Servant,
(Signed,) F.H. MEDCALF
Chairman Board of Police Commissioners. 6
Archbishop Lynch responded by first reassuring the Mayor that the procession would be unarmed, as was their usual practice.
ST. MICHAEL’S PALACE
October 1st, 1875.
To His Worship Mayor Medcalf, Chairman Board of Police Commissioners:-
SIR,- I am in receipt of your communication of yesterday, in which you say that “the Board of Police Commissioners have been informed that it is the intention of the member of some of the congregations of your diocese in this city to walk in procession through the streets of the city on Sunday next, and to carry revolvers and other weapons.”
In reply I would beg to say that the Catholics performing their devotions of the jubilee in visiting the appointed Catholic churches of the city will proceed unarmed, as is usual on such occasions, under the severest penalties of the Church.
However, the Archbishop wanted to point out that the processionists had marched unarmed the week before and trusted in the police to protect them, and that had not saved them. Furthermore, he had some questions about the conduct of the police into whose hands the safety of the procession was to be entrusted.
You also say that “the Board are of the opinion that if the processionists are unarmed and peaceable, and rely upon the police for protection, that serious disturbance may be avoided.” This was the case on last Sunday: had they been armed the thousands of men in the procession would have acted otherwise, and I fear bloodshed would have been the consequence. If some brainless young men fired shots at random these were not of the procession. You say “that if they rely upon the police for protection serious disturbance may be avoided.” It is true the police on last Sunday acted with prudence and discretion. They could have easily arrested the ringleader of the rioters that were pointed out to them in the acting of inciting their followers to the attack. But they replied that it would not be prudent then, that the parties were known. Have they been arrested since?
His surprise at the attack was so great, and his concern for the physical safety of his flock was such that he was considering delaying the last procession.
The attack by hundreds of wild young men and lads, blocking up the streets on the pilgrims walking quietly and praying silently along the streets, was certainly not looked for on last Sunday. I shall make up my mind before to-morrow at noon, as to whether I shall advise the visiting of churches on next Sunday, or the Sunday following.
I wish that the respected prelates with their theologians who have come to attend the Provincial Council, should return to their diocese without an increase of pain. I had not the slightest suspicion that any sane person in Toronto would take offense at the kind Catholics of the city might give to the Catholic Bishops of Ontario coming to their First Provincial Council, especially as similar receptions were accorded here, as well as in other cities, where Protestants largely predominate: and much less that they were prepared to find offense taken at those prelates, with their clergy, proceeding from the palace to the front door of the cathedral, a few hundred yards, even though they did occupy the sidewalk for a few minutes. However, I will not throw a stigma on the city of Toronto, or ridicule on the boast of British fair play and freedom of conscience, by delaying the procession longer than Sunday, 10th October.
I am, sir,
Your obedient servant,
(signed,) +John Joseph Lynch,
Archbishop, Toronto. 7
Archbishop Lynch also asked for a list of the names of the members of the Toronto Police Force and their creeds. Following the reforms of the police in the 1860’s and early 1870’2, the police was supposed to have been taken out from the control of the Orange Lodge and made more religiously diverse. The list was supplied to Lynch. The only creeds listed were ‘Catholic’ and ‘Protestant’. The police chief was a protestant. Only one of the four Sgt Majors was a Catholic. None of the eight sergeants, and only two of the six detectives. Of the eighty five constables, six were Catholic. Accompanying the list of names was the conditions of enrollment within the force. Membership in secret societies was forbidden. They were also forbidden to try and influence elections. Curiously, among the reforms was the stipulation that unmarried members of the force had to ask the Commissioners’ permission to marry. Police were not permitted to take part in any other trade, either in themselves or through their wives. This was a tremendous improvement over the time when the police were virtually a branch of the Orange Lodge, but Catholics were very much in the minority of the force. In comparison, they were roughly one quarter or twenty five percent of the population of Toronto at this time, but only seven per cent of the police force. While this was a vast improvement over the past, putting trust in the police to uphold the rights of Catholics would have taken a considerable leap of faith.