First black police officer in Canada
Born: 1859, Biddulph Township, Ontario
Died: 1943, Lucan, Ontario
Peter Butler's grandfather was an escaped slave who settled in the Wilberforce Colony in the 1830s. As a young man, Butler became a Middlesex County constable, based in Lucan, and in 1913, he joined the Ontario Provincial Police.
Butler was a fair but tough cop who only carried a gun when chasing down cattle rustlers or transporting prisoners to the London jail. He relied instead on his imposing size and a big stick to maintain order. He was also a kind and generous man, often keeping drunks in his own home for an overnight stay rather than throwing them in jail, and bringing beer to prisoners on Sundays. He kept a large collection of guns at his home, one of which had belonged to the infamous Donnelly clan.
Peter Butler retired in 1936 after 50 years as a police officer and is buried in the cemetery on Sauble Hill.
Butler's family owned 500 hectares of land, including most of what is now the town of Lucan.
A scholarship program has been established in Butler's name by the Association of Black Law Enforcers.
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Added 31 August 2003.