When I first heard of Bill Squire he was playing lacrosse with the Brantford Warriors around 1968.
He stuck out to me because he looked so small on the floor, but somehow his bowed legs got him from Point A to Point B quicker than most. And boy did he have stick skills.
Was it Squire or Squires? I never really knew, but I always called him Squire anyhow and he never corrected me so Squire it was.
Bill Squire had a lacrosse gene that seemed to run in the family as I became more and more familiar to the game and its players. If you were a Squire, you were a lacrosse player, and a damn good one.
Bill never talked much about it, but he along with Jack and Jim Squire(s), were inducted into the Eastern Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1997. His name will always appear alongside fellow lacrosse greats from Six Nations, Harry (Tonto) Smith, “Punch” Garlow, Cap Bomberry, “Hum” Thomas, Joseph Logan Jr., Roger “Buck” Smith and so many others. “Some have gone and some remain,” as the song goes. “In my life, I love them all.”
Years passed and when I began working at Six Nations as a sports reporter I followed the careers of Rodd Moose Squire Sr., Kimbo, Dallas, and now, Rodd Squire Jr.
After meeting Bill for the first time, he and I seemed to hit it off right from the start. I was a curious sprung and he has a well of knowledge and history, which he and his uncle Joe would share with me.
As we became friends, I realized that lacrosse was not his only passion. He was the current face and voice of the Mohawk Workers and was following the path set out for him by his grandfather, his father and his uncles.
He was proud to be a Squire and knew well the history of his family and of Six Nations’ generations long fight for justice. I can never express how much Bill Squire taught me over the years. He would always back up everything he told me with documentary evidence so I learned to trust him completely. To be fair, he could appear quite stubborn at times, but I found that it was usually based more conviction than stubbornness.
There have been splits and misunderstandings amongst the Mohawk themselves, but Billy would always keep to his path and would not sway from that. If he tripped and fell along the way, as he did from time to time, it wouldn’t be long before he got back on the horse and was back to what he believed was his purpose in life.
“Ya know Jimmy,” he would say to me when things weren’t going so smoothly, “if it came down to only me standing alone for the Mohawks and the Mohawk Workers, I would still stand.”
When he and other Mohawks took back the Kanata Village Museum after it had closed, he stood against the city of Brantford who assumed the former Mohawk Village of Joseph Brant was theirs. He must have made a good point because Brantford never forced Squire and the Mohawks out. They still occupy and meet there today. Fittingly, a memorial gathering in his name will be held at Kanata Village this Wednesday, January 11th.
Bill Squire showed me a path to understanding the Mohawks, Six Nations and the “Great nice”, or “Great peace,” as he would refer to the Great Law. He didn’t like the word “law” because to him it was not a set of rules to religiously abide by, but more the wisdom of the ancestors laid out for future generations to follow towards the path of peace.
Last time we spoke we went for Chinese food and just talked. He wondered out loud who would carry the flag of the Mohawk Workers when he passed. It concerned him deeply. Maybe he knew at the time he was not going to be around much longer, I don’t know. More recently we were to go out for lunch again, but a big snowstorm nixed that plan and we never did reschedule. I will always regret that.
I chose to believe that the white “Spirit Hawk” seen overseeing the historic Mohawk Village from its perch across the river in recent weeks is connected with the passing of Billy Squire to the spirit world.
To know great men and women you can respect is a good thing, but to be known and respected by people like Bill Squire is both humbling and priceless.