The Red-Baiter

Brigadier General D. C. Draper, D.S.O.
5th Canadian Mounted RiflesDraper

Crime is a destroying influence that inflicts more useless suffering than any other social evil upon many innocent, well-deserving and hard-working individuals.

(Draper, Montreal Gazette, 4 Oct 1934, 7)

At the battle of Mont Sorrel on 2 June 1916, an enemy shell struck Lieutenant Colonel Harry Baker, commander of the 5th CMR and MP for Brome. Despite being wounded and concussed himself, Major Dennis Colburn Draper carried the body of his mortally-wounded superior officer to rear and returned to the trenches. For his heroism Draper was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

Although left with a “bad shaking” after the shell explosion, which had killed Baker, Draper remained in command of the 5th CMR for the next two years. On 25 May 1918, he was promoted to brigadier general in command of the 8th Infantry Brigade. He relinquished command of 5th CMR to Major William Rhoades.

Draper was born on 20 February 1875 in Sutton Junction, Quebec. During the December 1917 federal  election, Draper stood for the Unionists in Brome, the riding left vacant by the death of Colonel Baker a year and a half earlier. While serving overseas, Draper narrowly lost to Laurier Liberal Andrew Ross McMaster. Although the 5th CMR commander received 184 soldier votes to McMaster’s 13, it was not enough to make up the difference in the civilian totals. The Liberal won by 400.

Describing the hard fought election campaign, McMaster stated:

I had as my opponent a gallant and distinguished soldier across the seas. What did this party, that includes the best elements in both political parties, do? They stuck placards on every barn door and on every rock in Brome saying, Draper is fighting the Hun, McMaster is fighting Draper; for whom would the Kaiser vote?

At the end of the war, Draper returned to Quebec along with Baker’s horse, Morning Glory. In 1928, he was appointed Police Chief of Toronto, a position he held for eighteen years. While head of the Toronto police, Draper earned a reputation as a controversial and outspoken anti-communist. He created a Red Squad within the department to target labour leaders and left-wing activists.

During the Second World War, he denounced “isolationists” in Quebec and guarded against Nazi “fifth columnists” in Toronto. Meanwhile critics condemned some of Draper’s draconian police tactics as fascist.

He retired from the police department in 1946 and died on 8 November 1951.

Digitized Service File (LAC):

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