The age-old, hallmark annual event for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members in the Toronto area, the Toronto Garrison Officers Ball celebrates its 200th anniversary this year on Feb. 25.
Theme this year “In Service to a Nation for 150 Years,” the ball will not only mark its 200th anniversary, but also the centennial of the battles of Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele and the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid. It will also recognize the 150th birthday of Canada and the 100th anniversary of the NHL.
To showcase the importance of this year’s event, the city of Toronto has agreed to hoist the 32 Canadian Brigade Group’s flag, and the CN Tower will light up in the unit’s colours that night.
“We are so appreciative of the community in Toronto. It gives us the opportunity to show our pride in being military in a community that’s so supportive,” said LCol. David DeVries, Commanding Officer 32 Service Battalion.
Every year the ball is hosted by a different unit and this year LCol. DeVries and the 32 Service Battalion have been given that honour.
In the evening of the event, it is expected that the ball will have a host of hockey displays and units will be bringing their paraphernalia to share.
Additionally, In honour of this year’s significant ball, several high-level dignitaries have been invited.
The ball is open to CAF members of the Toronto Garrison and surrounding areas and a select number of business and community leaders. Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, Elizabeth Dowdeswell will be the guest of honour of the evening and is expected to speak about the history of the nation and what the CAF has done to contribute in the last 150 years.
An invitation has also been extended to the Chief of the Defence Staff. Also attending are the deputy commander of the Canadian Army and the deputy commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force along with a senior ranking official from the Royal Canadian Navy. It is also expected that, if not the CDS, then a senior ranking official will speak about the future of the CAF in contrast to the Lieutenant Governor’s speech.
The Garrison Officers Ball is in the format of a typical mess dinner and is complete with military etiquette. The evening will commence with opening remarks and a welcome from the deputy mayor of Toronto. During dinner, guests will enjoy entertainment from the military brass band and pipes and drums, along with a local violinist.
DeVries says this year they are anticipating close to 800 guests at the ball.
The Toronto Garrison Officers Ball started in 1817 when the Garrison at York (Fort York) held an Officers’ Ball to celebrate Queen Charlotte’s Birthday on Jan. 23. The ball has carried on through the centuries almost continuously.
“The ball, for the longest time, was the celebration of military command. So, military officers getting together to celebrate what the military had done. It’s a night of friendship, of communication,” said DeVries.
The 2017 Toronto Garrison Officers Ball will be held on Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto on Queen Street.
For information on how to purchase tickets visit the Ball’s website.