24 March 2018

Riot part 9 continued

As was the case the week before, The Mail presented yet another view of the riots for their readers.  The most important thing for The Mail, the essential point it wished to convey at all costs, was that the Orange Lodge could not be blamed for the riots. 

The Mail laid the groundwork this tack on Saturday October 2nd, when they wrote of the meeting that failed to stop the riot. 

A collision may occur, though we hope it will not; but if it do, the directors of the respective parties will not be to blame, but the canaille by which each is disturbed.13 

This sentiment was repeated on the editorial page condemnation of the riot.  The editors seem to have been shaken that the riot could not be blamed on the Catholics, but maintained their position that the rioters were not Orangemen, even though they may have in fact have been Orangemen. 

The counsel given at the meeting of Friday night was set at naught by the rowdy element... Ruffianism is now fighting for supremacy, let its power be shattered once for all, though the streets should run with blood...If they are Orangemen, then we can but say to them in the words of the man who introduced Orangeism into Canada (author's note: that would be Ogle R. Gowan, who was one of the chief speakers at the Friday night meeting) that they are a disgrace to the order.  But it matters not who they are- the law is stronger than they, and it will finally crush them – and that in short time and quick order too.  The fair fame of this city must not be too long tarnished by conduct so infamous, reckless, or unprovoked. 14 

In their account of the riot, and again in their editorials over the next few days, The Mail would return again and again to the point that the Lodge was not to blame, that it was rowdy elements that were the ones who were truly at fault, and that many of the ruffian elements were to be found in the procession.  The Mail would repeatedly draw attention to instances where the violence came from the procession.  In its report, the actions of those attacking the procession are outlined in general, but the actions of the procession are detailed specifically: all the individually reported acts of violence are those of the processionists. 

One of the processionists was seen by a Mail reporter to fire off a revolver half a dozen times at this point. Another of these, who was also seen by the reporter firing a shot, was caught and held of the arm by a policeman and jerked back into his place in the procession.15 

The processionists were not innocent: even they would attack an innocent man: 

A young man came down Simcoe street, while the procession was passing it, just after the skirmish at that point had taken place, and was taken hold of by some of the pilgrims and was given a rather severe mauling. Whether he was one of the attacking party or merely a spectator is not clear.16 

Perhaps the most bizarre comment comes when The Mail mentions how no one was killed, and, for all the gunplay, there were surprisingly few injured, and then goes on to give advice on proper shooting technique. 

As far as could be learned up until a late hour last night no one was killed in the riot or received fatal injuries. This, considering the great number of pistol shots which were fired, the crowded state of the streets at the time, and the amount of stone throwing, is something remarkable.  The fact that so few were shot is attributable to the neglect by those who used revolvers, to the old soldier's maxim to aim low, and the bullets consequently passed over the heads of those at whom they were aimed.17 

To The Mail, the damage done to people was one thing, but the damage done to the reputation of the city was quite another.   Toronto's 'fair name' and reputation had been something of great concern to The Mail throughout the entire Jubilee affair.  The day after the final riot, they posted a short story of how news from Toronto had created some excitement in Montreal. 


MONTREAL, Oct. 2, There was considerable excitement in this city to-day over the riots in Toronto. The Sun published extras from time to time, detailing the progress of the fight, and all the afternoon the telegraphic offices were crowded with people anxiously waiting the news.18 

For The Leader, the second riot appears to have been a rather crushing experience.  They could not, as they did the week before, take to claiming that just a few boys threw stones at a procession prepared for a riot.  “The conduct of the processionists, as far as we have been able to learn, was unexceptional, they leaving the civil authorities to deal with the stone throwers.”19  However, there were plenty of others whom the paper found to blame for the riot, and one Catholic in particular: Archbishop Lynch. 

The concluding “pilgrimage came off yesterday, and, as Archbishop Lynch declined for it to take place early in the morning, we must hold him responsible, to some extent, for the bloodshed and rioting which occurred.20 

Being only able to give ‘a share’ of the blame to the Archbishop, they paper then decides to fix as much blame as possible on another target: the police. 

The other papers possess a continuity between them:  they all detail, with some allowance, the same events.  The Leader, however, as was the case in the previous week, writes an account of the riot is wildly different from the accounts of the other papers.  Nowhere is that more apparent than in their description of the actions of the police.  Whereas the other were effusive in their praise of the police, The Leader finds their conduct reprehensible.  The other papers all state that while the police drew their pistols, not one was fired.  The Leader, however,  claims that the police did fire their pistols frequently.  

…a sense of duty compels us to refer to the outrageous conduct of some of the police. What we say in this connection, we say with our own knowledge. 

  At the corner of Yonge and Adelaide, on the north side, some rioters took to pelting the procession with stones.  This lead to the policemen charging up Yonge street. The rioters, as a matter of course, took to their heels as soon as the policemen appeared, their flight considerably accelerated by the volley fired from the policemen’s revolvers. Just at this stage and incident occurred which showed how dangerous it is to trust some of our policemen with revolvers. At the corner of Yonge and Richmond a man was shot down. A policeman, apparently the one who had just fired the shot, stooped down for a moment towards the man, then rushed on and wheeled round Adelaide street westward. The street was filled with  hundreds of peaceable citizens, who doubtless thought they were far enough removed from the procession to ensure their not being fired into.  This policeman, however, who seemed to be very much excited, halted in the middle of Adelaide street, full-cocked his revolver and levelled it to fire. A gentleman on the sidewalk, with great presence of mind, called out, in an authoritative tone, “Don’t fire; there is no occasion for it”- or words to that effect. The policeman wheeled around without firing, and slunk away…21 

The paper details a few more incidents of police firing their guns indiscriminately and putting innocent, and worse, ‘respectable’ lives in danger, before they return to their main thesis. 

We have mentioned these incidents in detail in order that public attention may be called to the danger to which peaceable citizens are exposed by arming inexperienced policemen with revolvers.  They use their batons freely enough in all conscience on the smallest provocation.22 

For The Leader, the police were the only ones to draw their guns and fire.  Unlike The Irish Canadian, which deplored that the military was not used, The Leader  found that the military was completely unnecessary, and to some it was offensive. 
It was to very many somewhat irritating to see the military force of the country paraded in order to aid the abstractive fancies of a religious denomination. But the force was properly held aloof from the strife… The country, however, may be proud of the force. The public annoyance has, however, proved that we have a military force we can depend on.23 

On Tuesday The Leader defended its report on Monday that the police had been firing their pistols on Sunday.  It defended its story against all claims that the police never fired so much as a single bullet, and would only admit an error in that they had claimed a police officer was firing on bay towards Queen, when in fact they were firing their pistol on Richmond, towards Yonge.24   

The Leader did, however, find cause to praise the police on the whole when they revisited the issue of the Guibord Affair, when the Toronto police became a convenient stick with which to beat the French Catholics of Montreal. 

Although we have animadverted on the reckless manner in which a few of our policemen used their revolvers, to the possible injury of harmless citizens, we think it redound to the credit of the force, as a whole, that they, unaided by the military, kept the turbulence of a certain portion of the population in check, and enabled the "pilgrims" to finish their "pilgrimages."  Had the Montreal civil authorities done their duty on the occasion of the previous attempt to bury GUIBORD, and sent the policemen in force, it only required that those policemen showed half the pluck ours did on Sunday last and the Sunday before, to have scattered to the winds the miserable crowd that intercepted the GUIBORD cortege. 

However, even though the article is being written about the Guibord case, the authors and editors of The Leader  veer off to once again talking about the Toronto riots, and conclude with their conspiracy theories about why the riots occurred, before tying both events together: 

The Roman Catholic Ecclesiastics were, in great measure, responsible for the Toronto disturbances.  Religious processions through the street of Toronto on a Sunday are decidedly a novelty, and it is a question whether the law ought to permit them.  At any rate, being an novelty, and knowing that a disturbance was like to ensue, had Archbishop Lynch desired to avoid a riot (emphasis original)(as M. DOUTRE desired when he proposed to M. ROUSSELOT to bury GUIBORD quietly, he would have arranged that the concluding “pilgrimage” should take place early in the morning. Bu we question very much if Archbishop LYNCH desired to avoid a riot, and we pitied the unfortunate processionists on Sunday last, exposed to a fierce stone pelting merely that an odium might be gotten up against Toronto Protestants that would in some measure counteract against the odium which had arisen against the Quebec Ultramontanes. (emphasis mine.)  but both Archbishop LYNCH and his friends in the Province of Quebec must recollect, that the great mass of Protestants, not only in Toronto but throughout the Dominion of Canada, are the friends of order under all circumstances, and that those who are guilty of breaking thee law here on Sunday last will find no apologists.  It was very different of the French-Canadian canaille who threw stones, not merely at the remains of JOSEPH GUIBORD, but, in a metaphorical sense, at the sign manual of THE QUEEN.  These found an apologist in every Ultramontane priest, and in nearly every French-Canadian journal. These were actuated by loyalty to the Pope first, come second who may.25 

The theme of the Protestants protecting Catholic rights would be continued the next day, when the paper again stated that it was an Orange Mayor, with a legal advisor who was a former grand Master of he Orange Lodge, who lead a largely Protestant police force to protect the processionists.26  A day later, The Leader  makes no further mention of the riots, even though it once again brings up the Guibord affair. 

To be continued