Retired Constable Andrew ” Andy” Harding
Andrew, or “Andy” as many people knew him, was born in Chatham on June 3, 1919, and was one of eight children. Andy excelled at sports in high school and his extraordinary running skills made him a track and field champion.
In 1935 Andy joined the Provincial Championship winning, Chatham Coloured All-Stars and would play with them until the team disbanded in 1939. When the team disbanded, many of its players went on to join Canada’s war effort in WWII, and Andy was one of them. Like many of Chatham’s Black community, Andrew worked at the William Pitt Hotel for some time.
On February 1, 1948, Andy was hired as a Police Constable for the city of Chatham, making him Chatham’s first Black Police Officer. During his career, Andy was recognized for his response and successful conclusions to two Break and Enter & Assault investigations.
On August 1, 1978, after 30 years of service to the citizens of Chatham, Constable Andrew Harding retired. He was known as a dependable, honest, and courteous officer with many community contacts. Based on individual stories and his personnel file, it is easy to conclude that Andy believed in and practiced Community Policing.
His daughter, Tracey, recalls the following about her father.
“He was very proud to do his job. He loved serving the community. He faced the difficulties of racism in the community and the force when he first started, but with his perseverance and integrity, he gained respect and many friends. He had never drawn his gun on duty and believed talking and listening could solve most situations. He always had empathy, knowing that he encountered people on one of the worst days of their lives. He was passionate about food and recalled how he and Fergie Jenkins Sr. cooked at the Police Club on Steak Night for years.”
Andy is no longer with us, but his memory lives on.
To learn more about the Chatham Coloured All-Stars click (14) Black Excellence Episode 1 | The Chatham Coloured All-Stars – YouTube
(Credit: The Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society)