Toronto Garrison Officers’ Ball
On Saturday, February 23 Tara Muia and Kelly Martin represented Last Post Fund at the Garrison Officers’ Ball held at the Sheraton Center in Toronto. As guests arrived at the lavish event for the cocktail hour, Last Post Fund had a kiosk in place to inform officers and guests of the work of the fund and to provide visibility for our programs.
Over 800 guests from the Toronto Garrison and further afield were present at the ball, which was graciously hosted this year by the Royal Regiment of Canada. Commander Canadian Army, Lieutenant-General Jean-Marc Lanthier, attending with his wife Pamela, addressed the assembled guests as keynote speaker with refreshing candour that immediately endeared him to all present.
In keeping with the theme of this year’s ball “Til the troops come home”, a special presentation was made to Lesley Barron-Kerr, great-grand-daughter of Colin Barron VC for her efforts to acquire and bring back to Canada her great-grandfather’s medal. Colin Barron was one of nine Canadians awarded the Victoria Cross for heroism at the Battle of Passchendaele. The Canadian War Museum successfully purchased the medal, which had been put up for auction, with help from Kerr, who donated an undisclosed amount of money to make sure it stayed in Canada. Thanks to her efforts, it is now safely part of the national collection at the Canadian War Museum.
“Til the troops come home” was a celebration of returning soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force at the end of the First World War just over one hundred years ago, while pausing to honour and remember those who didn’t make it home. The theme also paid tribute to the Canadian military efforts during the Second World War, the Korean War, and modern operations – in which many attendees have participated as soldiers or as invaluable supporting family members.
History of the Garrison Officers' Ball
Historically, military garrisons across the British Empire held balls to celebrate significant events such as the birthday of a King or Queen. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a January ball would be held at Fort York (Toronto) to celebrate Queen Charlotte’s (wife of King George III) birthday.
The January ball was perhaps in honour of Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales rather than of Queen Charlotte (as is commonly reported) given that Queen Charlotte’s birthday was May 19th and Princess Charlotte’s was January 7th (although, according to Wikipedia, the Queen's or the King's Official Birthday is the selected day in some Commonwealth realms on which the birthday of the monarch is officially celebrated in those countries and does not necessarily correspond to the date of the monarch's actual birth!)
In its current incarnation, the Garrison Officers’ Ball provides an elegant evening of dinner and entertainment for officers from all the units of the Garrison to mingle socially as well as being an opportunity to acknowledge the sacrifices made by their significant others in allowing the officers to serve.
In recent years, the Ball has been opened to leading members of the business community. In doing so, the event serves to further strengthen the connection between the military and business communities in Canada’s financial capital.
Historical Capsule (Wikipedia)
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (19 May 1744 – 17 November 1818) was the wife of King George III. She served as Queen of Great Britain and Queen of Ireland from her wedding in 1761 until the union of the two kingdoms in 1801, after which she was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until her death in 1818. She was also the Electress of Hanover in the Holy Roman Empire until the promotion of her husband to King of Hanover on 12 October 1814, after which she was also queen consort of Hanover.
Charlotte was a patron of the arts and an amateur botanist who helped expand Kew Gardens. She was distressed by her husband's bouts of physical and mental illness, which became permanent in later life and resulted in their eldest son's appointment as Prince Regent in 1811. George III and Charlotte had 15 children in total, 13 of whom survived to adulthood. She was the mother of two future British monarchs, George IV and William IV. Her other children included Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover, and Charlotte, Queen of Württemberg.
Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales (7 January 1796 – 6 November 1817) was the only child of the British king George IV, who was still Prince of Wales during her lifetime, and his wife Caroline of Brunswick. If she had outlived both her grandfather King George III and her father, she would have become Queen of the United Kingdom, but she died following childbirth at the age of 21, predeceasing them both. Charlotte's death set off tremendous mourning among the British, who had seen her as a sign of hope and contrast both to her unpopular father and to her grandfather, whom they deemed mad. She had been King George III's only legitimate grandchild.