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Garnet Graham, Town Crier at Lindsay’s 125th Birthday

October 30, 2022

Garnet Graham, Town Crier at Lindsay's 125th Anniversary Celebrations, 1982

Originally published in the Toronto Star, 1982

The town fathers couldn’t decide who should be Lindsay’s town fool, so they hired two. They also felt there was enough rhyming couplets in town to keep two poet-laureates busy. But after hearing Garnet Graham’s booming voice and clanging bell, council decided one town crier was enough. It Graham’s job to roam Lindsay’s downtown streets calling out the local news. But he doesn’t report on the freezing weather, sluggish economy or pee-wee hockey scores carried by other media. His announcements will inform residents and visitors of the more than 100 events happening this year to celebrate Lindsay’s 125th birthday.

If Lindsay was still called Purdy’s [Mills], the name it started with, the town would be celebrating its 155th anniversary. Instead, when a young British soldier died of a mysterious gunshot would while surveying the town site in 1834, the British Army decided to name the community after him. It was incorporated in 1857.

At the gateway to the Kawartha Lakes, Lindsay’s 14,000 population swells to more than 100,000 in summer with many visitors arriving by boat on the Trent Canal. The town is also the crayon capital of the North America. [Binney] and Smith Ltd. turned out more than 100 million Crayola crayons last year—the firms’ 50th year in business. They also manufacture kids’ paint sets, silly putty, finger paints, modelling clay and millions of pieces of chalk.

Mexican bulls are also fond of Lindsay. In 1957, Canada’s only bull fight was staged in the town and the imported matadors were restricted to wooden swords by the Ontario Humane Society and denied permission to kill the bulls. The bull fight was a flop, but it may be a hit when it’s re-enacted at the Academy Theatre this spring. The Academy is home of the Kawartha Summer Theatre, Canada’s leading professional summer stock company. And Graham will make sure everyone hears about it.

“Hear ye, hear ye,” is not a new term for the 72 year-old retired insurance salesman. He called out much the same thing for a year as the town crier in neighbouring Fenelon Falls when that town celebrated its centennial in 1974 [the actual anniversary of incorporation was 1974, celebrated in 1975 because of sewer upgrades].

Many of those who encounter him on the street aren’t surprised at his bell-ringing or his costume of a tri-coloured hat, cut away morning coat and breeches. He has been entertaining children throughout the Kawarthas with magic tricks for more than 30 years, assisted over the past 10 years by his wonder dog Bob Beau [Bobby Beau], whose name, Garnet says, is an attempt to do his part for bilingualism.

The town fools—college student Frank Comery, 19, and high school student Dan Fewings—won their jobs after performing in front of town council. They will appear at various functions and entertain with their juggling, tumbling and general tom-foolery. Poet Laureates Andrew Thistle and Andrew Perry have been commissioned to pen appropriate lines immortalizing the events.

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