Burlington considering a new media; going for a Town Crier to deliver the Mayors words.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON March 14, 2011  –  David Vollick got asked to help at a church event awhile ago – they needed someone with a loud voice to let people know about the different events that were taking place one Christmas Season.  They dressed him up a bit and gave him a bell to ring and that planted the deed of an idea in Dave’s mind that resulted in his appearing before a city council committee to suggest that Burlington might get itself a Town Crier.

Costs $50. to clean and press the uniform – but he is pretty isn’t he.  David Vollick as a Town Crier.

Costs $50. to clean and press the uniform – but he is pretty isn’t he. David Vollick as a Town Crier.

Council kind of liked the idea and sent it off to staff to consider all the implications and sometime later this year the city will probably have a Town Crier of its very own.  Vollick wasn’t asking Council to pay him to do the job but he did point at that the people getting the benefit of the Crier usually pay a small stipend to cover the cost of cleaning the elaborate uniform they wear..  As Dave pointed out ”it costs $50. to have this uniform cleaned and pressed.”

His wife Barbara often joins him at any events he works.  What council heard was that Crier could read out the public declarations that are made by the Mayor.   Girl Guide Month or Small Business Week – the range is immense.  There could be a proclamation made on Canada Day.

The first documented use of a Town Crier was in1066, after the Norman Invasion of England.  Criers were regularly used after that  by the ruling King or Queen to inform all the citizens of their orders and decrees. To this day old English law still protects Criers from being Hindered or Heckled whilst carrying out their duties.

The term “Posting A Notice” comes from the act of the Town Crier attaching the notice or Proclamation he had read to the door post of the local Inn or Tavern.

Citizens of the towns relied on the crier for the information, be it good or bad news. Criers were not always men.  Many Town Criers were women. Bells were not the only attention getting device. In Holland a Gong was the instrument of choice for many, and in France they used a Drum, or a Hunting Horn.

Criers where often old military veterans who could read and write but who had fallen on hard times. The position of Town Crier gave them employment and a pension.  The position of Town Crier has often been passed from one generation to the next.

Council directed the City Manager to investigate the idea of establishing an Official Town Crier for Burlington, looking into the costs and report back to the Community Services committee by April 20.

David Vollick ably assisted by his wife Barbara.

David Vollick ably assisted by his wife Barbara.

The intention was to hold a contest for a crier if the city manager could find a benefit for the city.  Tourism Burlington was reported to like the idea and Vollick could see the Crier being used for store openings and other events that wanted to draw public attention.

We just might see someone at City Hall reading out a Proclamation on Canada Day while the cyclists zoom by.


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