Trooper Lorne Mulloy 1879-1932

On June 23, 2023, the Ontario Heritage Trust unveiled a plaque to Trooper Lorne Mulloy at the Iroquois Legion at 24 Dundas Street, in Iroquois. The plaque was then permanently installed at the Iroquois United Church Cemetery.

The bilingual plaque reads as follows:


    Lorne Winfield Redmond Mulloy was born on a farm near Winchester. After high school, he became the principal at Navan Public School. Mulloy postponed plans to attend university and enlisted with the Canadian Mounted Rifles, with which he embarked in February 1900 for the South African War. That summer, Mulloy was blinded in battle. Despite the barriers presented by his blindness, Mulloy went on to earn degrees from Queen’s University, the University of Oxford and Osgoode Hall Law School. During the First World War, he taught at Kingston’s Royal Military College and supported enlistment campaigns. After the war, Mulloy campaigned tirelessly for veterans’ rights and rehabilitation through the Department of Soldiers’ Civil Re-establishment and helped to create The Great War Veterans’ Association of Canada and the Royal Canadian Legion. Mulloy travelled to hospitals to share his story with veterans, vowing to assist those who were injured or disabled in service. He became a well-known public speaker who addressed the need for a social safety net, advocating for the duty and social responsibility of all Canadians to help others. Mulloy’s life is a remarkable story of achievement in the face of adversity that helped to change the fabric of Canadian society.


    Lorne Winfield Redmond Mulloy naît dans une ferme près de Winchester. Après ses études secondaires, il devient directeur de la Navan Public School. Il diffère son projet d’aller à l’université et s’engage dans le bataillon canadien de fusiliers à cheval, avec lequel il part en février 1900 pour la guerre d’Afrique du Sud. Cet été-là, il est aveuglé sur le champ de bataille. Malgré les obstacles créés par sa cécité, il parviendra à obtenir des diplômes de l’Université Queen’s, de l’Université d’Oxford et de la faculté de droit Osgoode Hall. Pendant la Première Guerre mondiale, il enseigne au Collège militaire royal à Kingston et soutient les campagnes d’enrôlement. Après la guerre, il milite sans relâche pour les droits et la réinsertion des anciens combattants par l’intermédiaire du ministère du Rétablissement civil des soldats, et contribue à créer l’Association canadienne des anciens combattants de la Grande Guerre et la Légion royale canadienne. Il se rend dans les hôpitaux pour raconter son vécu à d’autres anciens combattants, promettant d’aider les personnes blessées ou estropiées au combat. Il gagne en notoriété en soulignant la nécessité d’un filet de sécurité sociale et en prônant le devoir et la responsabilité sociale qu’ont les Canadiennes et les Canadiens d’aider autrui. Remarquable symbole de réussite face à l’adversité, la vie de Lorne Mulloy a contribué à changer le tissu de la société canadienne.

Historical background

The Dominion of Canada was less than 12 years old when Lorne Winfield Redmond Mulloy was born on a Dundas County farm near Winchester, Ontario on April 14, 1879. His mother, Mary Redmond Mulloy (a teacher before marriage), instilled in Lorne the value of education. His father, George Mulloy, promoted a discipline of hard work and, by his own example, expected a commitment to his community.1 These early influences would have a lasting impact on Mulloy’s life and work.

Mulloy completed his formal education at Iroquois High School in 1898, with certification to teach primary school. He was hired as principal for the Navan Public School, a one-room schoolhouse where he taught Grades 1-8.2 Citing a sense of duty, he postponed his plans to attend university and enlisted with the Canadian Mounted Rifles on December 28, 1899.3 After training in Halifax, Trooper Mulloy was transferred from the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards to the 1st Battalion Canadian Mounted Rifles and, on February 21, 1900, embarked with the Rifles for Cape Town, South Africa.4

Trooper Mulloy’s regiment proceeded to Bloemfontein, participating in several engagements. On July 16, 1900, the 1st Battalion proceeded to counterattack the Boers at Witpoort. Trooper Mulloy and three other troopers under the charge of Lieutenant John Edgar Burch found a defensive position, having been separated from the regimental forces. Lieutenant Burch was shot and killed, and Trooper Mulloy was blinded by rifle fire while attempting to take prisoners. His actions and wounds were mentioned in dispatches, resulting in his being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in 1901.5

From his hospital bed in Johannesburg, Mulloy dictated a letter to his brother-in-law, John Robinson, dated July 31, 1900, stating:

    “My wounds are doing well though I am sorry to tell you that I have lost my left eye, and my right one was so badly injured as to cause some anxiety, but the doctor thinks it will be alright after a while.”6

On September 26, 1900, Trooper Mulloy left Cape Town aboard a hospital ship, arriving in Plymouth, England on October 18, 1900. First cared for at the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley , Mulloy was transferred to Moorfield Hospital for a specialist’s assessment, which confirmed that his blindness was permanent.7 Years later, as honoured guest speaker at a First World War veterans tribute dinner, Toronto Armouries, Mulloy confessed to 4,000 veterans and consorts:

    “For four days I was the yellowest coward who ever came down the pike. I was afraid to look into the future. The courage to face death paled into insignificance compared with the courage to face life under such a handicap. I no longer wished to live … The strain grew heavier and heavier during the days that ensued. Finally, I was forced to take my shivering soul … and make it face the future … The moment I made that decision I found … I had won the first round in the fight for self-mastery.”8

This was a profound acknowledgement of the disabled war veteran’s experience and would factor into his postwar contributions to Canadian society.

Physically recovered, Mulloy enrolled in the Royal Normal College for the Blind in Upper Norwood , London, U.K., for skills training before being released for repatriation to Canada. At a Liverpool Stock Exchange reception to honour disabled Canadian veterans returning home, he was quoted by The London Telegraph as saying:

    “I have no regrets. If a man decides that a course is right and follows that course out, he has no right to regret afterwards, whatever the consequences …”9

This speech was cabled across the Empire and in Canada from coast to coast, thus making “Blind Trooper Mulloy” a national hero. It caught the eye of Sir James Whitney, member of the Ontario provincial parliament for Dundas County, and Leader of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition who, on opening day of the legislature, chose to honour all returning soldiers while mentioning Dundas County’s own Trooper Mulloy by name.10

Mulloy, discharged from military service on December 12, 1900, returned home to Winchester to a mammoth homecoming celebration. “Lecture Nights” was a popular social event that Mulloy took advantage of to raise money to pursue further education.11 Additional financial support was received from the Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund and from the Canadian Patriotic Fund, thus allowing Mulloy to gain entrance to Queen’s University’s arts program.12

Mulloy was presented the Companionship of the Distinguished Service Order in 1902.13 The Winchester Press14 reported that Mulloy attended the Halifax Institute for the Blind to learn braille before attending Queen’s University. The press quoted Mulloy, advising all to “(leave) nothing undone to develop one’s own abilities, physical, mental and spiritual.”15 In September 1902, Mulloy began his Queen’s University studies in English literature and Philosophy, graduating in 1906 “with honours.” With letters of support from Queen’s University Chancellor Sir Sanford Fleming and Ontario Premier Sir James Whitney, Mulloy’s application to Balliol College, Oxford, was accepted in 1907 and, in 1909, he was granted a postgraduate diploma in political economy “with distinction.”16 17

Remaining in England through 1910, Mulloy was exposed to European political developments, but also to Britain's "free trade" policies as they affect Britain’s "overseas dominions." As a Canadian imperialist,18 Mulloy was attracted to the Imperial Pioneers’ policies of Imperial Preference (tariff reform), Imperial Unity (military financial and manpower support) and a more defined imperial policy promoting co-operative “common wealth.” Mulloy’s opposition to the Canadian government’s interest in a reciprocity deal with the United States prompted him to join the Imperial Pioneers and support Britain’s Unionist party.

During Britain’s election campaign, Mulloy’s skills as a brilliant and resourceful debater were evident, and he was offered opportunities to stand for election to the United Kingdom’s House of Commons.19

In January 1911, Mulloy returned to Canada where he introduced his fiancée, opera singer Jean Munro, to his mother. On March 1, 1911, Mulloy and Munro were married in Montreal at the St. James Methodist Church. The couple then embarked on a cross-North America honeymoon, during which time Mulloy promoted the Imperial Mission20 proposals of the Imperial Pioneers.

The Winnipeg Telegram21 reported that the local veterans’ association, commonly known as the “Veterans brigade,” invited Mulloy to speak of his wartime experiences. He was made an honorary member. As they indicated that other “units” had joined from Prince Rupert, Moose Jaw and Kamloops, he offered on his travels to “secure many valuable members” to help create a national veterans association.22

On May 4, 1911, the Vancouver World quoted Mulloy as saying:

    “I am a Canadian and a nationalist. I find nothing conflicting in that and true imperialism. I believe we should … build our own ships; have our own coastal defences … let us build them in our own waters, man them with our own men … It is alright to say wars have gone by. They have not. During the last fifteen years we have had the South African, the Spanish-American and the Russo-Japanese wars, and it is certain that in the next … years empires will have been fought for and won or lost.”23 24

While many Canadians experienced the Empire with ambivalence and others still as an oppressive force in their lives, Mulloy saw his imperialism positively, that an affiliation with the British Empire would provide Canada with a sense of power greater than it could have on its own.

During the 1911 election campaign , Mulloy worked for the Conservative campaign in the Canadian election, advocating for a reciprocal tariff agreement with Great Britain and opposing the Liberal support for a reciprocity agreement with the United States. With the defeat of the Laurier government, Mulloy returned to Iroquois on hiatus to enjoy home life and help on the Maple Grove family farm.

On August 22, 1913, Sir Sam Hughes, Canada’s Minister of Militia and Defence, appointed Trooper Mulloy to the teaching staff of the Royal Military College (RMC) in Kingston, responsible for English literature and military history. Talk of an imminent war captured his attention. United States Army General Francis A. Larch stated:

    “To General Sir Sam Hughes must be given the credit of having foreseen war with Germany and making such preparations as were possible in a democracy like Canada. He it was of all others who galvanized Canada into action; he it was whose enthusiasm and driving power were so contagious that they affected not only his subordinates but the country at large.”

With the declaration of war on July 28, 1914, life at the RMC dramatically changed. Active-duty military training supplanted teaching activities. On July 7, 1915, an Eastern Ontario branch of the Speakers’ Patriotic League was formed in Kingston, with Trooper Mulloy as honorary organizing secretary, tasked with promoting recruitment. At his own request , Mulloy was granted a leave of absence from the RMC and began actively recruiting in the 3rd Canadian Division . In March 1916, Hughes awarded Trooper Mulloy with the honorary rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and assigned him to Headquarters Staff.

With volunteerism waning in 1916, Toronto lawyer and activist John M. Godfrey led the creation of the Canadian National Service League, as director, to convince the government to adopt conscription. To that end, Mulloy and others strategized to find ways particularly in Quebec where support was most lacking. Thus began the “Bonne Entente” movement, and the “Win the War/Gagnons la guerre” campaign to foster Canadian unity.25

A Hamilton Times columnist commented on January 2, 1917 that the Bonne Entente:

    “… is the first concerted effort made by the people themselves to draw the two [English and French cultures] together. It may have far reaching results. It may be the dawn of a united Canada …”26

These campaigns met with limited success.

Initially, Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden refused to endorse conscription until the United States declared war and imposed a similar law, to discourage Canadians from leaving Canada and sheltering in the United States.

The United States entered the war on Good Friday 1917. Trooper Mulloy was asked to write a “Memorandum on Compulsory Military Service,” which was distributed to members of the United States Congress as well as Canada’s Union Government. Congress passed the draft, and subsequently Canada passed the Military Services Act on August 29, 1917.27

Colonel Mulloy now turned his attention to the rehabilitation of sick, wounded and disabled soldiers. His personal philosophy of self-mastery, self-reliance and purposeful self-direction would guide him. In June 1915, the Government established the Military Hospitals Commission (MHC), tasked with retraining veterans (disabled or not) to be successfully employed and self-supporting. In support of this endeavour, Colonel Mulloy resigned his position at RMC and joined the Department of Soldiers’ Civil Re-establishment. He provided constructive direction in the establishment of Pearson House in Toronto, a training facility for blind veterans, supporting blind veteran Edwin A. Baker as Director. Baker would later become the driving force behind the Canadian Institute for the Blind.28 In addition to suggesting better veteran pension benefits, Mulloy contributed to the MHC’s bulletin “Reconstruction” with his noteworthy piece “The Public’s Duty in Repatriation,” stating that:

    “The responsibility for the performance of our whole duty to those who have so well performed the highest duty to the state rests not alone upon governments … but uniformly and squarely upon every adult Canadian citizen, including the re-established veteran himself.”29

Mulloy promoted this concept of personal social responsibility across the country until his contract terminated in 1919, at which time he retired to Iroquois.

In July 1920, Mulloy helped found the Iroquois branch of the Great War Veterans’ Association and, in 1925, played a principal role in the change to what would become the Royal Canadian Legion. With the encouragement of long-time friend John M. Godfrey, Mulloy entered Osgoode Hall Law School in 1920. He received permission to take the three-year course in one year, studying at home, and articling with Morrisburg barrister Arthur Flynn. He was called to the bar on November 22, 1923, and partnered with Godfrey to practise both criminal and civil law.

He founded The Iroquois Post newspaper in 1925, was president or vice-president of a number of local industries and, as a Village of Iroquois Councillor, successfully promoted many local infrastructure projects to improve the lives of the village’s citizens.30 All of this and he still had enough time and energy to commit to executive responsibilities of area youth sport leagues in hockey and lacrosse.

On February 21, 1932, Lt.-Col. Lorne Winfield Redmond Mulloy DCM DSO LLB BA suffered a heart attack and died at home. His funeral, with full military honours conducted by the 4th Hussars of Canada, was attended by 2,000 mourners, including nearly 100 South African and Great War veterans. The honorary Hussar pall bearers flanked the flag-draped casket, followed by a black cavalry horse with black riding boots reversed in the stirrups. The firing party, widow and family, veterans, government representatives and local area citizenry followed the procession from the Iroquois United Church to Iroquois Point, which overlooked the river. With the echo of the gun salute across the locks and through the silent village, “The Colonel,” as all locals respectfully called him, was laid to rest on his property, “The Maples.”31

A monument was later placed at the gravesite, with local veterans promising to maintain it. Two years later, Mulloy’s wife died and was buried beside him on “The Maples” property, which was eventually sold. In the 1950s, with the flooding of the St. Lawrence Seaway and International Hydro Electric Project underway, the gravesite was slated to be covered by the flood waters. The local Beach family, close personal friends of the Mulloys, gave space in their plot for reburial at the Iroquois United Church Cemetery, and the Fetterly family volunteered the re-internment service. Trooper Mulloy’s name is inscribed on the back of the Beach family headstone.32

Mulloy was influential in creating in Canadian minds the concept of social responsibility, the idea that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, in promoting our nation’s commitment to repatriate and support our troops, to make them as whole as possible, to welcome them home with generosity and thanks. Those first seeds of social support planted by Trooper Mulloy have grown through the years, to help produce the social and health benefits we all enjoy in Ontario and Canada today.

The Ontario Heritage Trust gratefully acknowledges the research of Kenneth Howard Kirkby, BA MA, in preparing this paper.

© Ontario Heritage Trust, 2022-23

1 Lorne’s father served over the years as magistrate, justice of the peace, and Reeve, Mountain Township, Dundas County; Kirkby (a), 1986, p. 10.

2 Mulloy’s name appeared on “The Cadet’s Roll Call” in honour of Queen Victoria’s birthday in 1895; Schecter, 2020, pp. 25-30.

3 Schecter, 2020, pp. 15-20.

4 Schecter, 2020, pp. 36-38.

5 On September 21, 1901, Trooper Mulloy was honoured to be presented his DCM by HRH the Duke of Cornwall and York; Schecter, 2020, pp. 63-66, 95.

6 Mulloy/Munro family artifacts, Dundas County Archive (DCA).

7 Schecter, 2020, p. 72.

8 Toronto Evening Telegram 20 February 1919; Mulloy/Munro family artifacts, DCA.

9 Kirkby (b), 1986, p. 9.

10 Toronto News, January 1901; Mulloy/Munro family artifacts, DCA.

11 Kirkby (a), 1986, p. 11.

12 Schecter, 2020, pp. 79-81, 93.

13 Schecter, 2020, p. 95.

14 The Winchester Press, July 6, 1902.

15 Mulloy/Munro family artifacts, DCA.

16 Iroquois Post memorial Supplement, Feb. 1932; W L Grant Reminiscence

17 Contextual note: Throughout his adult life, Mulloy was animated by his belief in Imperialism. Canadian Imperialism is driven by the belief that Canadians should be proud of their affiliation with the British Empire and should have an influential place within it. Canadian Imperialists believed that Canada was no longer a colony but a distinct geographic, social, and cultural entity, and could only become a great nation, within the larger political structure of the British Empire. Imperialists believed that further independence from the British Empire, culturally, politically, and legally, was undesirable, and that Canada’s connection to Britain, positively separated it from the United States.

18 Contextual note: Canadian Imperialism arose in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and reached its peak between the Boer War and the First World War. After the First World War, Canadian Imperialism saw a decline, while Canadian nationalism increasingly became defined by its pursuit of autonomy.

19 Schecter, 2020, p. 135.

20 Schecter, 2020, p. 137.

21 The Winnipeg Telegram, March 29, 1911.

22 Mulloy/Munro family artifacts, DCA.

23 Mulloy/Munro family artifacts, DCA.

24 Contextual note: Mulloy could be considered simultaneously a nationalist and an imperialist. Though a seeming contradiction, it is not. Many people hold overlapping identities that relate to the places and political contexts in which they live. They may identify with their city, region, and nation all at once. In the early twentieth century, much of the world’s population lived within the political structure of European empires. Many formed identities in relation to them while they existed, which may not have superseded their nationalism but existed alongside it.

25 Mulloy/Munro family artifacts, DCA.

26 Mulloy/Munro family artifacts, DCA.

27 Larch, 1919, p. 392.

28 Schecter, 2020, pp. 217-218.

29 Mulloy/Munro family artifacts, DCA.

30 Kirkby (b), 1986, notes from interviews.

31 Kirkby (b), 1986, notes from interviews.

32 Kirkby (b), 1986, notes from interviews.