Orangeism in Canada, A Brief History

In the history of Canada the Loyal Orange Association has played an active
role. Although it is not known when or where the first Orange meetings
occurred there is evidence of activity in the very early 1800s. At that time
the majority population of Canada was Protestant and located in Upper
Canada. Many were Orangemen.

In Brockville, Ontario in 1830 the Orange Association was officially formed
largely through the efforts of Ogle R. Gowan who came to Canada from
Wexford, Ireland in 1829. Gowan called a general meeting of all Orangemen on
New Year's Day 1830 and the result was the forming of the Grand Orange Lodge
of British America with Gowan as the first Grand Master.

The first Orange Lodge warrant issued by the new G.O.L. of B.A. was to
Brockville L.O.L. No. 1. There had been Lodges operating in Canada earlier
than this. Orangeism was introduced first at Saint John, New Brunswick by
military lodges from British ships and regiments stationed there.

There is evidence that Orangemen were with General James Wolfe at the Battle
of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. Orangemen also fought with Isaac Brock at
the Battle of Queenston Heights in the American War of 1812 - 14.

In 1866, Orangemen fought with the Queen's Own Rifles and helped to hold
back the Fenians at Ridgeway, Ontario. Members of Orange Lodges also played
a big part in suppressing the Upper Canada rebellion of William Lyon
Mackenzie in 1837. They were also in western Canada in the military during
the rebellions of Louis Riel in 1870 and 1885.

After Confederaton ( ie. the founding of the Dominion of Canada) in 1867,
Orangemen served with the military in the Boer War in South Africa and in
the two World Wars. In World War I alone some 55,000 Orangemen enlisted.

The city of Toronto held its first Twelfth of July Orange Parade in 1822 and
it has continued uninterrupted ever since. Through the 1920s and 1930s when
the Orange Association was at its peak in Canada, Toronto was known as 'the
Belfast of Canada' for the large number of Orange Lodges operating there and
the tremendous size of its Orange parades. Parades were also held in every
other province.

Three Canadian Orangemen have been Prime Ministers, namely, Sir John A.
Macdonald, the father of Confederation, Sir Mackenzie Bowell, a Past Grand
Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of British America, and John Diefenbaker.
Premier Joseph Smallwood who brought Newfoundland into Canadian
Confederation in 1949 was also an Orangeman.

It was an Orangeman, Alexander Muir, who wrote Canada's first national
song - The Maple Leaf Forever.

Since World War II the membership of the Orange Association has steadily
declined. Since 1875 the Loyal Orange Association has published an official
publication, The Sentinel, which contains Lodge news as well as religious
articles and other information.

In 1881, the Orange Association in Canada introduced an insurance programme
for its members generally known today as 'Orange Insurance'. The Association
also has operated many benevolent projects including children's homes,
senior citizen's homes, a research institute and clinic, disabled person's
hostel, children's foundation, and disaster fund as well as raising funds
for causes such as cancer research, the heart foundation, muscular dystrophy
and crippled children.

The aims of the Loyal Orange Association in Canada have included:

1. promotion and extension of the Protestant concept of the Christian

2. provide social activities which will enrich lives of its members and to
participate in benevolent activities which will enrich communities and

3. support for a united Canada with a strong central government and where
all provinces are equal;

4. promotion of the constitutional Monarchical System of government as a
stabilizing force in Canada;

5. the English language as the glue which will hold together all cultural
and ethnic groups;

6. a non-sectarian public school system;

7. a return to Christian principles and values upon which Canada was

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