Duncan ends position of town crier, saying times have changed

Duncan has eliminated the position of town crier after 26 years and plans to create a new city ambassador role, based on feedback from the community.

“Everything has its time and at this time, council has made the decision to retire the position of town crier,” Mayor Michelle Staples announced Friday.

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Duncan has had a town crier since 1995, but council re-evaluated the role in the context of increased awareness of historical injustices, saying it needed to examine practices and symbolism of the past.

“There have been town criers in North America ever since Europeans have been coming to the continent,” the city said in a statement.

“There are records throughout the 16th century of town criers in Mexico, Peru, and Panama.

“All through the American Colonies and beyond, criers were a constant during the mid-17th century and in some places, the office of town crier persisted into the early 20th century before becoming more symbolic.”

Duncan said it will work with the community to create a new city ambassador role to attend events and greet visitors

It thanked the most recent town crier, Ben Buss, and previous town crier Robert Alexander.

Buss, 78, said he is disappointed in council’s decision, which was made without consulting him.

Buss, who is six-foot, three-inches tall, wore the uniform of the 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment of Foot in the British Army in about 1800 for the role. “I could raise the old decibels up,” he said. “It was fun to dress up. You were different. The uniform was significant.”

Appointed in 2011, the history buff relished the role and talking to people about the uniform. He attended about 28 events every year.

He paid for his own out-of-town trips to attend town crier competitions. In 2012, he won in the category of best uniform at an event in Anacortes, Washington.

Three years later, he flew to New Zealand, where he won an award for the most individual cry.


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