Daily Archives: December 8, 2010

COTAB— Toronto’s Buxton Group – Boxing Day Dance

COTAB— Toronto’s Buxton Group— Boxing Day Dance

COTAB Boxing Day Dance
COTAB Boxing Day Dance – click to enlarge

Article by:  Michael Parris and Victor Moses

Following on the heels of its participation in the recently held 170th year observances of the purchase of Buxton, the Committee to Assist Buxton/Friendship (COTAB) is finalizing arrangements for its annual Boxing Night Party.  The event will be held on December 26 at the Toronto East Masonic Temple, 15 Chisholm Ave. (W of Main St., N of Danforth Ave.)

COTAB, one of the overseas-based Buxton organisations, was established and registered in Toronto in 1990 and has been contributing to various projects in the twin-village of Buxton/Friendship, Guyana. COTAB mission and mandate allows it to direct its funding to education, health and sports projects.

To date, its contribution portfolio include: providing computers, books and stationery for all the schools and well-deserving students; uniform to needy students; scholarships; equipment and gears to sports clubs; street lights; photo copiers for the schools; financial assistance for medical treatment; financial and material relief during the 2006 flood, etc.
COTAB obtains its funding primarily from two (2) annual events – Caribana Saturday Night and Boxing Night, respectively. The former brings together Buxtonians from the North America and other parts of the world to Toronto to participate in the world-renowned carnival and festivities around August Monday week-end.

For Buxtonians, Boxing Night however dates back to sixty or more years of Buxton/Friendship tradition initiated by “Teacher George” Younge who staged possibly the most popular dance day and night long event in Guyana.  It was the only occasion on which the three (3) bands with the largest following – Tom Charles’ Syncopaters, Al Seales’ Washboard, and Eddie Nelson’s New Luckies- played at the same event.

Teacher George was involved in village and national politics and was well-known in all sections of the Guyanese population. His patrons were from all walks of life, and it was something to behold the ladies in their finery. But it was the men who took to heart Teacher George’s proclamation of the event as ‘Examination Day’.  Men, worth their salt, changed into as many as three suits, casual in the day, and formal in the evening, so as to be hailed as ‘sportsmen’, a term then used to describe men who were popular with the ladies, and who presented themselves quite personably.

Boxing Day however is a Victorian tradition in the United Kingdom which became a custom of the 19th century.  Then, tradesmen would collect their “Christmas boxes” or gifts on the day after Christmas in return for good and reliable service throughout the year.  The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses (and sometimes leftover food). In addition, churches opened their alms boxes where people place monetary donations.  These boxes were always opened the day after Christmas, which is why that day became known as Boxing Day.

Boxing Day is not an official holiday in the United States.  It is listed in the Canada Labour Code as an optional holiday. Only in the province of Ontario has it been made a statutory holiday where all workers receive the time off with pay.

Apart from the fund-raising aspect, the organisers are seeking to bring together persons of Buxton heritage, their offspring, friends and well-wishers, in a spirit of conviviality and oneness.  The overarching objective is to seek financial and other support for COTAB’s projects while recapturing the true joys of dancing and merriment.

During the night, they will be staging a dance competition – a prominent feature of past Boxing Night dances, and hope that members of the younger generation will be able to uphold the standards for which their forebears were renowned.

The Executive and members of COTAB would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the support you gave over the last 10 years.  We look forward to your continued generosity.

COTAB Executive:

President Ingrid Ifill-King

Vice-President Ena Ageda

Secretary Victor Moses

Treasurer Shirley Seaforth

Executive Committee Members Michael Parris, Charis Newton-Thompson, George Culley

Fund-Raising Committee Patsy Adams, Cedric Reid, Brentnold Blair, Dawne McKenzie, Jenny Wills (Peters), Nelga Charles (Marshall)

Past Presidents Victor Moses (Immediate),  Maxey Seaforth

Front L-R: Victor Moses, Nelga Azonwanna, Patsy Adams, Jenny Wills-Peters.   Back L-R:  George Culley, Ingrid Ifill-King, Shirley Seaforth, Michael Parris

COTAB is committed to assisting with the revitalization of Buxton..  We can be contacted at: 1 Bigwood Court, Scarborough, Ontario M1H 1Z7.     Phone 416-431-0273 and    e-mail Ingrid Ifill-King at-iv.king@rogers.com.

COTAB – President’s Message : COTAB President’s Message