Orange Order in Canada

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Flag of the Grand Orange Lodge of Canada

The Orange Order is a Protestant fraternal organization that began in County Armagh, Ireland in 1795. It played a large part in the history of Canada, with many prominent members such as John A. Macdonald, John Diefenbaker, as well as Tommy Douglas, founder of the New Democratic Party.

Upper Canada & the Province of Canada[edit]

Ogle Robert Gowan, Grand Master

The Orange Lodges have existed in Canada at least since the War of 1812. It was more formally organized in 1830 when the Grand Orange Lodge of British North America was established by Ogle Robert Gowan in the Upper Canada town of Elizabethtown, which became Brockville in 1832 (according to the plaque outside the original lodge in Brockville, Ontario). Gowan immigrated from Ireland in 1829, and became the grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of British North America he established. His father was the grand master of the Irish Orange Order. Most early members were from Ireland, but later many English, Scots, and other Protestant Europeans joined the Order.

Fraternal Organization[edit]

The Order was the chief social institution in Upper Canada, organizing many community and benevolent activities, and helping Protestant immigrants to settle. It remained a predominant political force in southern Ontario well into the twentieth century. There were scores of socially prominent citizens who were granted honorary membership but did not actually participate in official lodge business. Surprisingly, given the prestige of the institution in city life, lodge membership was predominantly drawn from the ranks of labourers, street railway workers, teamsters, and other elements of the working class. Besides sentimental patriotic or imperialist motivations, many Orangemen joined because the benefits of mutual aid, security, and health supports made it easier to survive the difficulties of working class life. Middle class members, such as professionals, small-shop owners, and tavern-keepers, saw membership in terms of commercial gain through the steady attraction of lodge members as clientele. The Order’s secrecy, solemn oaths, and masonic-type rituals bonded men together as part of a greater whole, and dressing in the order’s distinctive sash and regalia for the Twelfth of July parade let members show off their status and achievements to the greater community. A notable exception to Orange predominance occurred in London, Ontario, where Catholic and Protestant Irish formed another Irish society in 1877.

Protestant ascendency & Politics in Toronto[edit]

The first Grand Lodge was established in Toronto in 1830, and it expanded steadily so that there were over 20 lodges in 1860, 31 in 1880, and 56 by 1895. At the turn of the century Toronto was nicknamed "The Belfast of Canada". Historian Hereward Senior has noted that the Orange Order’s political ideal was expressed in the word “ascendancy.” "This meant, in effect, control of the volunteer militia, of much of the machinery of local government, and substantial influence with the Dublin administration. Above all, it meant the ability to exert pressure on magistrates and juries which gave Orangemen a degree of immunity from the law. Their means of securing ascendancy had been the Orange lodges which provided links between Irish Protestants of all classes. This ascendancy often meant political power for Protestant gentlemen and a special status for Protestant peasants."[1] In the context of Toronto, such ascendancy was sought through the Corporation (as the administration of the city of Toronto was known). By 1844, six of Toronto’s ten aldermen were Orangemen, and over the rest of the nineteenth century twenty of twenty-three mayors would be as well.[2]

Electoral riots[edit]

“Ascendancy,” or control of this legal and political machinery, gave the Orange Order a monopoly on the use of “legitimate” violence. Between 1839 and 1866, the Orange Order was involved in 29 riots in Toronto, of which 16 had direct political inspiration.[3]

Control of 'the Corporation'[edit]

The Orange Order became a central facet of life in many parts of Canada, especially in the business centre of Toronto where many deals and relationships were forged at the lodge. Toronto politics, especially on the municipal level, were almost wholly dominated by the Orange Order. The highly influential weekly newspaper, The Sentinel, promoted Protestant social and political views and was widely circulated throughout North America.[4] At its height in 1942 16 of the 23 members of city council were members of the Orange Order.[5] Every mayor of Toronto in the first half of the twentieth century was an Orangeman. This continued until the 1954 election when the Jewish Nathan Phillips defeated radical Orange leader Leslie Howard Saunders.

Robert Baldwin & the 'Durham Races'[edit]

Responsible Government & the burning of Parliament[edit]

Burning of the Parliament Buildings, Montreal, 1849

Ottawa[edit]

The Orangemen, members of the various Ottawa, Westboro and Billings Bridge Lodges as well as lodges from outlying towns paraded from the Orange Hall, Gloucester Street to St. Matthew's Anglican Church (Ottawa) on July 10, 1938.[6]

The rest of Canada[edit]

The Orange Lodge was a centre for community activity in Newfoundland. For example, in 1903 Sir William Coaker founded the Fisherman's Protective Union (F.P.U.) in an Orange Hall in Herring Neck. Furthermore, during the term of Commission of Government (1934–1949), the Orange Lodge was one of only a handful of "democratic" organizations that existed in the Dominion of Newfoundland. It supported Newfoundland's confederation with Canada in reaction to Catholic bishops' support for self-government.

The Orange Order was also a force in New Brunswick, such that riots surrounding Orange marches occurred in the 1840s (a period of Irish mass immigration) in New Brunswick. Even tiny Woodstock, New Brunswick experienced a riot in 1847 on The Twelfth (July 12, the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne), near a now vanished Orange Hall at the corner of Victoria and Boyne streets. The height of conflict was a riot in Saint John on July 12, 1849, in which at least 12 people died. The violence subsided as Irish immigration declined,[7] though even in 1884, 3 were killed in Harbour Grace in the "usual" "collision" "between Orangemen and Roman Catholics".[8]

After 1945, the Canadian Orange Order rapidly declined in membership and political influence. The development of the welfare state made its fraternal society functions less important. A more important cause of the decline was the secularization of Canadian society: with fewer Canadians attending churches of any sort, the old division between Protestant and Catholic seemed less relevant.

Orangemen and War[edit]

In 1913, the Orange Association of Manitoba volunteered a regiment to fight with the Ulster Volunteers against the new Irish government if Home Rule were to be introduced to Ireland.

Orangemen played a big part in suppressing the Upper Canada Rebellion of William Lyon Mackenzie in 1837. Though the rebellion was short-lived, 317 Orangemen were sworn into the local militia by the Mayor of Toronto and then resisted Mackenzie's march down Yonge Street in 1837.

They were involved in fighting against the Fenians at Ridgeway, Ontario in 1866. An obelisk there marks the spot where Orangemen died in defending the colony against an attack by members of Clan na Gael (commonly known as Fenians).

Orangemen in western Canada helped suppress the rebellions of Louis Riel in 1870 and 1885. The murder of abducted Orangeman Thomas Scott was a turning point in the 1870 Red River Rebellion which caused the Dominion government to launch the Red River Expedition to restore order. The first Orange Warrant in Manitoba and the North West Territories was carried by a member of this expedition.

The call to arms by Bro. Sir Samuel Hughes, the Canadian Minister for War and member of LOL 557 Lindsay Ontario, resulted in some 80,000 members from Canada volunteering for service during the First World War.

Prominent Members[edit]

Four members have been Prime Ministers of Canada, namely Sir John A. Macdonald, the father of Canadian Confederation, Sir John Abbott, Sir Mackenzie Bowell (a past Grand Master), and John Diefenbaker. In addition to many Ontario Premiers.[9] Possibly because of the number of Irish Newfoundlanders, many of the diplomats who negotiated the Terms of Union between Newfoundland and Canada in 1947 were members of the Orange Lodge: Joseph Smallwood, P.W. Crummey (a past Newfoundland Grand Master) and F.G. Bradley (a past Newfoundland Grand Master), in fact the Orange Order played an important role in bringing Newfoundland into Confederation.

Tommy Douglas,[citation needed] social activist and politician, was the seventh Premier of Saskatchewan (1944–1961), and the first leader of the New Democratic Party. He is most notably credited as being the Father of Medicare.

Edward Frederick Clarke, a prominent editor and publisher, served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1886 to 1904 and as a member of the Canadian Parliament from 1896 to 1905.[4]

Orangeman Alexander James Muir (Ontario) wrote both the music and lyrics to the Canadian patriotic song "The Maple Leaf Forever" in 1867. The song was considered for the role of National Anthem in the 1960s.

The 17th Governor General, Lord Alexander of Tunis was also a member of the Orange Order. [10]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Senior, Hereward (1982). "A Bid for Rural Ascendancy: The Upper Canadian Orangemen, 1836-1840". Canadian Papers in Rural History V: 224. 
  2. ^ Houston, Cecil J. (1980). The Sash Canada Wore: a historical geography of the Orange Order in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 147. 
  3. ^ Kealey, Gregory S. (1984). Victor L. Russell, ed. "Orangemen and the Corporation: The Politics of Class during the Union of the Canadas" in Forging a Consensus: Historical Essays on Toronto. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 42. 
  4. ^ a b Thomson, Andrew (1983). The Sentinel and Orange and Protestant Advocate, 1877-1896: An Orange view of Canada (M.A. thesis) Wilfrid Laurier University
  5. ^ Leslie Howard Saunders. An Orangeman in public life: the memoirs of Leslie Howard Saunders. Britannia Printers, 1980. pg. 85
  6. ^ Orange Lodges of Ottawa in annual parade to Church Ottawa Citizen July 11, 1938
  7. ^ Scott W. See, "The Orange Order and Social Violence in Mid-Nineteenth Century Saint John," Acadiensis 1983 13(1): 68-92
  8. ^ "Chronicle of the week". The Week : a Canadian journal of politics, literature, science and arts 1 (5): 78. 3 Jan 1884. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  9. ^ David A. Wilson Ed. "The Orange Order in Canada, 2007"
  10. ^ http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/CAN-ORANGE/2004-04/1081898239

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Monographs
  • Wilson, David A. The Orange Order in Canada, Four Courts Press, 2007, 213 p. ISBN 1-84682-077-4 (preview)
  • Akenson, Donald H. The Orangeman: The Life & Times of Ogle Gowan, James Lorimer & Company, 1986, 330 p. ISBN 0-88862-963-X (preview)
  • Pennefather, R. S. The Orange and the Black. Documents in the History of the Orange Order. Ontario and the West, 1890-1940, Orange and Black Publications, 1984, 187 p.
  • Houston, Cecil J., and William J. Smyth. The Sash Canada Wore: A Historical Geography of the Orange Order in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980, 215 p. ISBN 0-8020-5493-5
  • Saunders, Leslie Howard. An Orangeman in Public Life: The Memoirs of Leslie Howard Saunders, Britannia Printers, 1980, 230 p.
  • Senior, Hereward. Orangeism: The Canadian Phase, McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1972, 107 p. ISBN 0-07-092998-X
  • Bull, William Perkins. From the Boyne to Brampton : or, John the Orangeman at home and abroad, Toronto: Perkins Bull Foundation, 1936, 365 p. (online)
  • Gowan, Ogle Robert. Orangeism; Its Origin and History, Toronto: Lovell and Gibson, 354 p. (online)
  • Pierre-Luc Bégin (2008). « Loyalisme et fanatisme », Petite histoire du mouvement orangiste canadien, Les Éditions du Québécois, 2008, 200 pp. (ISBN 2923365224).
  • Luc Bouvier, (2002). « Les sacrifiés de la bonne entente » Histoire des francophones du Pontiac, Éditions de l’Action nationale.
Articles
Thesis

External links[edit]