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History of Father Frances P. Duffy Council  1970

On Sunday the 16th of November 1919, Council 1970 as it was known was inaugurated.  The class had ninety-six candidates for initiation. Following Mass at St. Michael’s Church, at which Father Francis P Duffy preached the sermon, they retired to the Arlington Hotel (Where Victoria Park gates are now) and became members of the Knights of Columbus. In the evening a banquet was attended by six hundred guests and was held at the Armouries. Father Duffy made a toast to “Our Allies’, as all the Charter members were transfers from Council # 798, Peterborough, which was our parent council. The charter Grand Knight at that time was Brother Arnold Plunkett. Many things have happened to our council over the past one hundred years that the Knights have been in Cobourg. One the earliest memories (Circa 1936) are of the ice carnival they used to hold behind their first home in Cobourg (the large house across from the West Collegiate). Due to the depressed economy of the late forties and the Second World War, and its resultant drain on manpower, the home was given up. The Council continued to operate, moving to an apartment above the original Cobourg Book Store at 29 King St. W. On Thanksgiving Day, 1946 thirty candidates were initiated at the West Collegiate under the direction of degree master Brother Ernie Wolfe of Peterborough who later became Deputy Supreme Knights. With the end of WWII, there was a transfusion of new members and their enthusiasm, the Council prospered and required larger quarters. They moved to an apartment above Barrett Reality at 245 Division Street. At the time of the move the store was occupied by Brother Jack Primeau’s Men’s Wear, today the business is owned and operated by his son-in-law and outstanding Knight, Brother Robert Clement FDD. The next move was to the old Bell Telephone building at 287 Division Street was a lawyer’s office and then to 172 Queen Street.  On June 27, 1996, through the wise vision of some Brother Knights the Columbus Community Centre was realized. During all these years (from Brother Arnold Plunkett to our present Grand Knight Stephen Clancy), we have had many Grand Knights, and hundreds of dedicated officers and members. Thousands of dollars have been raised and spent in this, and neighbouring parishes on such objects as school prizes, Christmas welfare, the Arthritic Society, School and youth groups ‘and baseball & hockey leagues for the youth. In addition to these undertakings are thousands of hours of personal community services performed by our members. In 1989 the Fourth Degree, known as the Patriotic Degree of the Order was introduced to Cobourg as the Sir Knight James J. Tracey Assembly No. 2167 in memory of a great Knight Jim Tracey, FDD. The charter Faithful Navigator was Brother Thomas Cousineau. This Assembly includes members from Port Hope and Bowmanville.

For those who may not know, Father Francis P Duffy was the famous chaplain of the Fighting Sixty-Ninth Regiment of the Rainbow Division American Expeditionary Force in WW l and recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross and other medals for valour. In the movie “The Fighting Sixty-Ninth”, Fr. Duffy was portrayed by Pat O’Brien and it also starred James Cagney. Take a look around Times Square, New York City and you will see a very impressive statue of Father Duffy. Duffy Square as it is known is reputed to be the most valuable piece of real estate of its size in the world. Father Duffy was born in Cobourg in 1871, educated to high school level in Cobourg and ordained in St. Michael’s Church, so who better to name our Council after!

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