My wife and I were watching CFTO news on Sunday evening and there was a story about the 13th annual Ceremony of Remembrance for Ontario's fallen police officers. As the tv camera scanned the inscribed wall of names of fallen officers, my eye caught one in particular: John Fisk, King Township, 1804.
I was instantly transfixed by this revelation. I had no idea this person existed in this highly visible and historical setting. The ceremony this year added three new names to the Wall of Honour. Two were from 1854 and 1919. The third was York Regional Constable Garrett Styles who was killed last year on June 28, 2011.
As for John Fisk, he was the first known police officer killed in the line of duty in Canada. He was born in 1752 at Wallingford, Connecticut and served in the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution guarding prisoners. After resigning his commission , he moved to Massachusetts and married Lavinia Higby Dean. They moved on to New York and Vermont, raised six children, and finally settled in Canada on a 210-acre farm in King Township. John Fisk was made High Constable of the Home District (Town of York). He was also an auctioneer and pound-keeper. On October 7, 1804, he was transporting a prisoner to court in Newcastle on the HMS Speedy, one of only two schooners which made up the Provincial Marine on Lake Ontario. The vessel never arrived. John Fisk, his prisoner and another approximately 20 people on board, including the Judge of the King's Bench and the Attorney General of Upper Canada were lost in what was believed to be a fierce storm. High Constable Fisk's body was never recovered from the lake. More than 200 years later, John Fisk is remembered and honoured in two places in Ontario. There is a plaque in his honour near Trenton, and his name is inscribed on the Ontario Police Memorial Wall at Queen's Park in Toronto.
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