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5 minutes with: Daniel Richler

Daniel Richer is the official town crier for Ottawa and Gatineau.

Daniel Richer is the official town crier for Ottawa and Gatineau.

How do you get started as a town crier?

Well, the city has to decide to have one, and they usually hold
auditions and once you’re accepted by the city, you have to be named by
the city. It’s actually an official position. And then you have to be
accepted by the Ancient and Honourable Guild of International Town
Criers.

What’s that like? It sounds a little serious.

Well, it is. To them it is, anyway. It’s taken very seriously. They give
you rules and regulations, you know, dos and don’ts, and then you’re
invited to competitions.

What are some of the big don’ts for a crier?

We don’t do political cries, we don’t do negative cries.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever proclaimed? Were you contacted about Shannon Tweed Day?

Oh, yeah, I did the cry for Gene Simmons and Shannon. She said on her
blog the best part of her visit was actually the town crier.

So we didn’t officially end up having a Shannon Tweed Day …

No, some friends of Shannon Tweed hired me to do the cry. We do
everything that has social, artistic or love connotations. Among other
things, we do wedding proposals, passion proclamations, love
declarations.

Do you find yourself using your skills in everyday life? I’m guessing you must hail a pretty mean cab, for instance.

Well, actually, it’s funny because people expect you to be really loud
in general and actually it’s the opposite. I have a very soft-spoken
voice. My kids know that when dad lowers his voice, it’s time to stop.
When I do get into situations where people scream at me, I tell them I
have a black belt in screaming and it might not be a good idea.

What is a little-known cool historical fact about criers?

Well, very often we were paid in booze. A lot of the criers used to hang
out at the local pub, and that’s where they got a lot of their jobs to
go and announce. Everything that was sold in the market was sold by
cries. A barker is a town crier.

So they were the first in advertising?

They were, or the first reporters. Of course, the unfortunate thing is
that in Roman times and Greek times very often the town crier who
brought in bad news would be beheaded.

 
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