By Don Pidgeon
Fifty years have gone by since John Loye passed into eternity in 1962. John Loye lived for 82 years and filled those years with great accomplishments through his understanding and dedication to Montreal’s Irish heritage. The prominence of this figure was fulfilled with his knowledge of Montreal’s Irish history, his artistic capacity as a designing draftsman, a skilled artist in pen and ink, watercolors and oils, a gifted writer of literature and poetry and his outstanding leadership qualities.
If one name should be synonymous with the United Irish Societies of Montreal it is John Loye. John was one of the founders of the U.I.S. and a visionary for the promotion of Montreal’s St. Patrick’s parades. He was president from 1934 to 1957. His leadership and direction was instrumental in the success of the Societies during his term in office, especially through two of the most difficult periods of the past century, the Great Depression and the 2nd World War. He initiated a Constitution and recommended incorporation in 1933. Prior to 1933, the majority of floats in the parade were designed by John. In the Depression Years he proposed the temporary discontinuation of floats with the money being spent to help those suffering. To eliminate gaps in the parade he inaugurated the formation and movement of units emphasizing a continuous flow of participation. He initiated a dress code for the Executive on parade which still exists. He designed the Chain of Office and crests for the U.I.S. and crests of many other organizations.
John Loye noted in his 1941 annual U.I.S. report that in December prior he accepted the call as an advisor to the formation of the Parents’ Committee of St. Willibrord’s Parish, even though he was not supposed to be or suspected of being the parent of any women’s child.
In 1934, John was the founder and 1st President of the Canadian Railroad Historical Association and an active member of the Montreal Antiquarian and Numismatic Society which met at the Chateau Ramezay in Old Montreal. As a draftsman and artist, he produced the metallic leaves that Adorn McGill University’s Roddick Gates.
In 1958 the winds of change resulted in the election of a new President for the U.I.S. John was offered the position of lifetime honorary president but declined the position. John Loye was a leader, historian, writer and artist who left a legacy of involvement and love for his Irish heritage.
Don Pidgeon, Historian, U.I.S.