The Ontario Guild of Town Criers held its annual Provincial Championships on May 21 & 22 as a signature event of the 200th anniversary celebrations of Perth, in Lanark County, and the Town of Erin’s Official Town Crier, Andrew Welch, was declared the overall winner.
While requests for local appearances are relatively few in number, Welch often represents our town in Town Crier gatherings around the province since his appointment by Town Council in 2012. The Guild Championship, hosted in a different municipality every year, brings together criers from all over the province in friendly competition to promote the vocation and celebrate our heritage. Ontario is proud to have some of the finest criers anywhere, which was amply reflected in last weekend’s line-up. More than a third of the 17 competing criers have won awards at the World Championship level.
For the Perth tournament, the criers were challenged to write three proclamations: one to promote their home town, a second to promote a local Perth business, and a third to share some important aspect of Perth’s 200-year-old history. Competitors are then judged on their content, their presence, their vocal delivery, and their accuracy. Resplendent uniforms, proclamations often spiced with a bit of humour, and perfect weather meant that the audiences were impressively large.
In the end, Welch, who also represents the Town of Caledon, edged out Chris Whyman, the Town Crier of Kingston and current World Champion, by only half a point (out of 300). Third place went to last year’s Provincial winner Bill McKee, representing Scugog, Uxbridge, and Oshawa. Our town crier also placed third in a separate ‘loudness’ ranking, hitting 98.9 dB – a measurement not often included in competitions.
Does this mean that Erin has the best town crier in Ontario? “Not exactly,” says Welch. “Many of my colleagues having been doing this for decades, are full-time criers, and are ranked amongst the very best. I just happened to have a good weekend.” Still, it shows that our town is once again punching above it’s weight, and this hopefully serves to put Erin more prominently on the map.