George Benjamin (Orangeman)
Background and early career
Born in Sussex, England, he worked for a time as a journalist before emigrating to the United States. In 1834, he arrived in Belleville, Upper Canada, where he established a Tory newspaper, named The Belleville Intelligencer.
Orange Order activities
He became a Captain in the local militia and a member of the Orange Order in later years. He helped finance the building of a plank road between Belleville and Camden. He served as warden for Hastings County from 1847 to 1862.
Though he was Jewish; in 1836 he became grand master in British North America for the Orange Order, replacing Ogle Robert Gowan. At this time, the Orange Order had a strong voice in Upper Canada. Gowan's attempt to regain control of the Order in 1853 led to a split in the organization which was only healed in 1856 when both he and Benjamin withdrew from the leadership.
Benjamin had many political enemies, he was the subject of a cruel caricature in Susanna Moodie's 1843 short story "Richard Redpath".
Elected to Parliament
Benjamin died in Belleville in 1864 after a prolonged illness.
- Brian Busby, Character Parts: Who's Really Who in CanLit, Toronto: Knopf Canada, 2003. p. 148-150.