Hear! Meet Brantford’s town crier, named the best in Ontario

It’s hard to miss David McKee’s colorful uniform and powerful voice.

It was his voice and clever writing that earned the Brantford man first place in the provincial championship of the Town Criers’ Guild of Ontario. This is his seventh title, putting him close to his younger brother, Bill, who is town crier for Oshawa, Port Perry and Scugog, and Kingston town crier, Chris Whyman, for the most wins.

« It was great to win the provincials, especially because it was the first competition after the pandemic…It was a treat to win that, » McKee told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. The morning edition.

McKee is the official Town Crier for the City of Brantford. In a statement, the city congratulated McKee on winning the first championship in two years.

The competition took place in Bracebridge on September 19 and competitors had three shouts to make: one for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, one for a new attraction at the local Santa’s Village theme park, and one was an « open shout of your choice « . «

At the Guild of Ontario competition, judges look at how you present yourself, the volume of your voice and the clarity of your speech, McKee said.

McKee rings this bell at the start of his proclamation. (Carmen Groleau/CBC)

The content of your speech is also a crucial part of the competition, he said. As the official Town of Brantford Town Crier for 30 years, McKee knows a thing or two about what makes a good shout.

« What it takes is practice and research. I really feel like doing research, » he said.

« All [speech] I do, I spend a lot more hours than people might imagine in front of the computer making sure all my I’s are dotted and all T’s crossed out. »

What is a town crier?

There’s a lot of history attached to the role, McKee said. Originally, town criers were people responsible for keeping the community up to date with the latest news.

A silver and gold medal rests on a green uniform.
Mckee’s uniform resembles Butler’s Rangers uniform. McKee said he was having a new uniform made that looks like the first industrial workers in the city of Brantford. (Carmen Groleau/CBC)

« It used to be very important to make sure everyone knew what was going on before people could read or write, » he said.

These days, the role is more ceremonial, he said, adding a splash of color to community events. He says he got his start when the Brantford-Brant Chamber of Commerce created the role for the city’s 125th anniversary in 1991.

The City of Brantford noted in its release that the town crier is someone who makes proclamations and announcements at events in their city or community. People may hear traditional words like « Oyez! » meaning « to hear you », which aims to catch people’s attention.

McKee plans to continue his role as town crier, but with a new uniform, which resembles Brantford’s industrial roots. Its current uniform is based on the Butler’s Rangers uniform worn during the American Revolution.

“It is important that we take note of the fact that indigenous peoples face the colonial impression,” he said.

« Looking around the town hall you can see the things that represent those early industrial days of the Verity Plow company…those people who were important in the industry in the 1840s. So I get a uniform made for look like a person from that era as opposed to this colonial type military attire. »

  • LISTEN | Full interview with town crier David McKee below:

The Morning Edition – KW7:56Meet Brantford’s Official Town Crier: David McKee

Brantford’s official town crier, David McKee, was recently named the best in the province. Last week, McKee won the provincial championship title from the Ontario Town Criers’ Guild. It’s his seventh title and he’s now tied with his younger brother and Kingston’s own town crier for the most wins.


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