Ceremony held for fallen Ontario police officers

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell and other dignitaries attended a ceremony to honour fallen Ontario police officers in person for the first time since 2019 Sunday.

The 23rd annual Ceremony Of Remembrance was organized by the Ontario Police Memorial Foundation and took place at Queen’s Park.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we must call out six more names this day, six more heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of keeping the people in this province safe from harm,” Ford said. “These officers never wavered in their sworn duty to protect the people of this province regardless of the personal risk. That my friends is the definition of selflessness, the definition of true bravery.”

Three names of officers who recently died were added to the Ontario Police Memorial this year, including Toronto police officer Constable Jeffrey Northrup, who was fatally struck by a vehicle while responding to a robbery call at an underground parking lot at Toronto City Hall last year.

Ret. Inspector Stu Eley knew Northrup and spoke with CP24 following the ceremony.

“He was the same in uniform as he was out of uniform. He was a big guy, and he was a gregarious, outgoing, friendly, you know, the life of the party,” Eley said.

“But people respected him – not only in his police life where he mentored lots of people, he was a coach, officer, he trained people – but in his private life where he was involved in scouting and involved in lacrosse in Brampton, and he was doing the same thing there with teaching kids.”

The two other recent names added are OPP Constable Marc Hovingh of the Manitoulin Detachment and Constable Joan Theresa VanBreda of Niagara Regional Police.

Hovingh was fatally shot while responding to a property dispute in 2020. VanBreda was struck by an impaired driver while responding to a minor collision in 1986. She suffered extensive injuries and died in 2020 as a result of ongoing medical issues that arose from her injuries.

Three other names are also being added following historical research: Guelph Police Constable John Teevens, who died in 1945; Brantford Police Constable John Hickey, who died in 1897; and Brockville Police Constable Alexander Wright, who died in 1895.

The last in-person ceremony took place in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A number of road closures are in effect around Queen’s Park in order to accommodate the ceremony.