Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Remembrance Tradition at HQ

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As Remembrance Day drew closer yearly, Superintendent Hugh Ferguson Jr. would get a call from his father reminding him that he would be attending the annual event at police headquarters.

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That call didn’t come this year as Hugh Ferguson Sr. passed away last August at age 89.

For many years, he was the Master of Ceremony at the Toronto Police Service’s Remembrance Day event and he read ‘In Flanders Field.’

“His death is still fresh and there is a void obviously,” said his son who carried on the tradition by reading the war poem. “Getting dressed up and coming here for this was an annual thing that we both looked forward to. This was very important to him. He had that thick Scottish brogue and enjoyed speaking. He used to come down here on his own, but I picked him up as he got older.”

Ferguson Sr. was a TPS officer for 38 years before retiring in 1992 as a Staff Inspector.

He co-founded the Chief’s Ceremonial Unit and was also an active member of the Police Soccer Team, Pipe Band, Widows and Orphans, Amateur Athletic Association, Police Credit Union and several amateur sports organizations.

Toronto police officers who have served on peacekeeping and training missions, along with war veterans, gathered in the Grenville lobby for this year’s Remembrance Day service, marking the 104th year of the first Armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

The names of the TPS officers who died in World War I & II are inscribed on plaques as part of a Toronto Police Military Veterans Association (TPMVA) Memorial.

“This day is very significant when we think about the large number of our members who lost their lives while trying to ensure our freedom,” said Acting Chief Lauren Pogue. “It is important for us to always remember those who gave their lives on our behalf.”

Chief James Ramer, Toronto Police Services Board Chair Jim Hart and TPMVA Past President and World War II veteran Jack Reid laid wreathes in honour of the fallen.

Retired Staff Sergeant Gord Barrett paid tribute to family member and close friend Frederick Topham by laying a wreath in his honour. Topham was Barrett’s great-great-uncle.

A medical orderly who parachuted with his battalion into a strongly defended area east of the Rhine during World War Two, Topham was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry. He died in 1974.

Staff Superintendent Peter Code was the Master of Ceremony.

This was the first Remembrance Day ceremony in which a relative of our First World War Fallen attended the service. Lauren Gillen, great-niece of Police Constable Charles Leo Gillen, who was killed in action during the Battle of Mont Sorrel in Belgium in 1916, attended on behalf of her family. After the ceremony she was presented with a Toeonto Police Military Veterans Association challenge coin.

Also in the display cabinet in the Grenville Lobby, a collection of congratulatory letters from dignitaries marking the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the TPMVA were posted.

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