Dominion Day 2008
Callithumpian, adjective, is first noted in North America in 1836. From a southern English dialect word 'gallithumpian'; the English Dialect Dictionary says this could refer to a heckler or someone who disturbs order at Parliamentary elections (which were then public events, not secret ballots); this probably derives from gally, 'to frighten', which turns up in another dialect word 'gallicrow' for a scarecrow. But it's also been said to be a blend of calliope and thump, which sounds plausible as an evocation of a noisy fairground atmosphere, except that unfortunately calliope, in the sense of the steam-driven musical instrument, is not recorded before 1858. The word survives, though it's now rather regional even in the US, for example in the Callithumpian Parade on July 4th every year in Biwabik, Minnesota, and in the names of the Callithumpian Consort, which performs avant-garde music, and Jack Maheu's Fire In The Pet Shop Callithumpian Jazz Band. It has a second meaning in Australia and New Zealand, referring to some unspecified nonconformist religious sect. This may be derived from the other meaning given in the English Dialect Dictionary of 'a group of social reformers'.
A fanciful construction at one time designating a society of social reformers, then in reference to 'noisy disturbers of elections and meetings,' and most commonly 'a band of discordant instruments.'
Relating to a band of discordant instruments or a noisy parade.
The sounds of a big parade, usually accompanied by horns and noise makers.
A noisy demonstration.
Callithump, noun or verb, back-formation from callithumpian, alteration of English dialect 'gallithumpian'.
A somewhat riotous parade, accompanied with the blowing of tin horns, and other discordant noises; also, a burlesque serenade; a callithump, callathump, charivari, chivaree, shivaree.
from the Evening Guide Tuesday March 6, 1984 by Celia Russell
Almost every town and city in Canada celebrates the country's July 1st birthday with a parade. But few can boast a Canada Day parade with as many colourful traditions as Port Hope's.
The Port Hope parade has always been a little different, right down to the off-beat name of Calithumpian.
So, what does it mean? The word Calithumpian comes from the Greek word kali, meaning beautiful, and part of another word meaning humorous or clownish. Through the years, the parade has lived up to its name.
It has been a Port Hope tradition since the turn of the century. In 1955, the Port Hope Kinsmen revived the name Calithumpian, which had been dropped during the first few decades of the 20th century.
At one point in the parade's long career, the marchers were called the Kalithumpian Kueer Kusses.
And queer - and terrifying - some of them were.
For children, the scariest part of the parade was the Black Maria (pronounced Black Ma-rye-ah) float. Before 1900, it was drawn by two black horses. Keystone cops disguised with clown make-up would haul fathers and older brothers watching the parade off the street and into the paddy wagon float, from which they would not be set free until they paid a fine of at least 25 cents. Upon payment, the cops would give them candy to give to their children. The money collected would go to charity.
Not all men viewed it as a pleasant experience, however. A lot of people ran away when the Black Maria float came past, as Port Hope resident Cal Clayton remembers.
Because the streets in early days were unpaved, the watering cart would have to come by several times during the parade to lay the dust. Spectators would scramble out of the way to avoid getting wet.
Early parades used to start on Ridout Street, follow Walton Street downtown, then go up the Ward Street hill to the Town Park to start the July1st celebrations. Crowds would thrill to the sulky races and sideshows.
During the 1960s, several drum and bugle corps from as near as Cobourg and as far away as Quebec would march in the parade, then perform afterwards in a competition at the Town Park. Perennial paradefavourites were the DeLaSalle Drum Corps and the Optimists, both fromToronto [and the Lindsay Cavaliers].
In those days, the fun started the night before with a big dance at the Peter Campbell Memorial Rink, featuring a big-name band. The evening would culminate with a Queen of the Parade beauty contest.
There's always lots to watch in the Calithumpian Parade. Local businesses and organizations show their community spirit by sponsoring several floats. Most recent parades have featured more than 50 floats and 10 bands.