Dominic Di Stasi - A Man Who Challenged Adversity
The Canadian Orange Order has been privileged over the many years, to have had great leaders. Men who through dedication and compassion championed the principles of Orangism, leading and living by example. These were men who made that difference and left a legacy for others to follow.
The most notable of modern times was none other than Dominic Di Stasi.
Dominic was born in Toronto September 8, 1919. Being the son of an Italian immigrant, Dominic’s father entered Canada in 1907 for a better life. Times were extremely trying for a young man to establish in a new country. After 5 years and obtaining a steady job, he returned to Italy to bring his family back to Canada. The family was Roman Catholic; however, because of the caring and assistance by the Methodist Church Mission in Toronto, the Di Stasi family accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour and converted to the Christian reformed faith.
The Di Stasi family lived near an Orange Lodge on Euclid Street. A friend of the family inspired Dominic to become interested and at around 7 years of age, he joined the association as a Junior Orangeman.
Dominic studied and trained to be a graphic artist. He later focused his skills and talents and received a Degree at the Ontario Teachers College where he was soon hired at Northern Secondary School in Toronto. Working in the public school system, Dominic was committed to a one school structure delivering the best education for the community. He later lobbied his beliefs and concerns to the Ontario Premier, Bill Davis’s Ontario Government to not financially support segregation such as a Separate School system. He also raised concerns on the proposed abolition of the Lords Prayer in school and its future repercussions of misguided youth. Dominic was so respected and admired in the Toronto School Board, that he was later promoted as a Guidance Counselor for all youth, to pave a future and a positive direction for tomorrow’s leaders. Dominic retired in 1950 but continued his involvement with youth long after.
Dominic was a pioneer in promoting the Orange Association and the Protestant faith in the Italian community. He was very active in Saint Paul-Pietro Valdo Italian United Church and assisted in ministering. Dominic also maintained the position of the churches recording secretary. He set an example of being a fine Christian gentleman always assisting the church and the community. Dominic’s love of children had him extremely active in Sunday school and Youth Church Groups.
In 1930, Giuseppe Garibaldi Loyal Orange Lodge was formed. This was truly a unique Orange Lodge, consisting of mostly members from the Protestant Italian community. For some of British decent, it took time to accept this lodge. Under the leadership of Dominic, the members more than proved how integral they were to the Canadian Orange Association. Dominic served as the Worthy Master of LOL 3115 from 1947 through to the end of 1948.
During World War II, he served in the Royal Canadian Armed Forces for nearly 5 years.
Dominic married Sally Ingrassia in 1942. Together they raised two sons in a peaceful loving and caring family. As parents, they always worked side by side promoting the principals of Christianity and Orangism. This teaching reflected on the two boys who are both stellar figures in the community today. Dominic had very little spare time considering his involvement with his family, the church, his profession, and in the Orange Order. He did find moments to read several books on history and current events. Dominic also had a love for bowling.
Dominic proved his abilities as a leader in the following chronicle of achievements:
- 1954/55 County Master of the Toronto Loyal Orange County Lodge
- 1957/58 Director of Orange Juvenile Lodges in Ontario West
- 1959/60 Grand Marshall of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ontario West
- 1961/62 Grand Chaplain of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ontario West
- 1963/64 Junior Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ontario West
- 1965/66 Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ontario West
- 1967/68 Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ontario West
- 1991-93 Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Canada
- 1994-96 Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Canada
Dominic as a leader of the Canadian Orange Association always maintained a driving force in the media and with the membership. He was a very kind and understanding individual and always saw the good side of humanity. There was not a day that went by that he did not reach out to mentor and assist young orange brothers. During his office as the Grand Master of Canada, Dominic had a dream to continue the honour of a great Canadian Orangeman, Alexander Muir. Muir, who was also a Toronto school teacher, instructed his students on principles of orangism in Faith, Hope and Charity and to apply them to everyday life. Alexander was also a patriot of the Dominion of Canada. He wrote the “Maple Leaf Forever” which is still heralded as the first Canadian National Anthem. Dominic commenced the Grand Master Fund to restore the Alexander Muir Park in Toronto and construct a fountain in his memory. This project never got underway, as the City of Toronto would accept the monies but had concerns of the vast amount of vandalism in the park. One of the greatest gifts that Dominic wanted to bestow on the City that he so loved that he would never see. This only because of misguided youth!
Dominic suffered a stroke in 1996 which caused him to step down from the office of the Grand Master. This was a devastating blow not only to his family and friends, but of all of Orangism in Canada and International regions. A petition was tabled to the Grand Imperial Orange Council, that the title of Honorary Past Imperial Grand Master be conferred on Dominic. “Canadian Orangemen from coast to coast would be most honoured to have this recognition bestowed upon one of their own who has diligently served in the ranks of the Orange Order with much distinction bringing credit to both its image and the principles it expounds” In 1997, Dominic attained the highest honour of Honourary Past Imperial Grand Master.
On September 3rd, 2001, Dominic Di Stasi passed away at the age of 82. Many Orange brothers wondered if he was the last great orange leader this country would ever witness.
A large number attended the Orange service at the funeral home, many coming from several miles away to pay their last respects. Officiating was M.W. Bro. David Griffin, Grand Master of Canada. He was assisted by Bro. Rocco Speziali, W.M. of LOL 3115, Joe Speziali, PM, MW Bro Norman Ritchie, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Canada, Wor. Bro. Tom Barr, Toronto County Master.