Orillia's oldest Fraternity
As members of the Orange Order of Canada, we along with the rest of the Brethren, "Support our Soldiers". Orangemen have served in every conflict that has ever affected Canada. And Orangemen are still proudly serving Her Majesty in the Canadian Forces today. We recognize the courage, dedication and steadfast loyalty that they have for their Queen and Country, and realize the stressful anxieties that they and their families endure while both being prepared for deployment and seeing active service in the conflicts that Canada is involved in. Whether it’s in the remote reaches of Afghanistan, or trying to provide aid, medical attention and restore order in places of chaos, such as is currently trying to be accomplished in Haiti in the wake of a fairly recent earthquake. No matter where they are serving or what circumstances took them there, we pray for their safe return and quick re-integration with their friends and families.
To all our Brethren who are currently serving, we eagerly await your return. To have the honour of being able to proudly welcome you back into our midst once again and to celebrate in fellowship, your safe arrival home amongst your Brethren.
The Orange Order in Canada can be very proud of its enduring relationship with the Canadian Military. It's involvement in defending this Dominion and the British Empire dates back well before confederation in 1867. Allow us to take a few minutes to share with you, some historical highlights regarding this patriotic relationship that spans over the last few centuries. The Orange Order of Canada has at many times in it’s history had Loyal members answer the call in Manpower, Home Defence, Service in Battle and sadly many have paid the ultimate price, so that we ourselves and our families can live in peace as we do today. Let us never forget the dedication and loyalty that these brave men showed for both their country and Empire.
It is doubtless that there were among Wolfe's soldiers, members of the Orange Society. Almost a half-century prior to this, soldiers of Britain had planted the Flag on the shores of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland (1713), and many of them were identified with "The Orange Confederacy" established in 1688 and which spread quickly throughout the army and navy.
Even at it’s formation, one can clearly see how the military was involved. The warrant for the Grand Lodge of British America was issued by the Loyal Orange Institution of Great Britain, meeting in London, England, on April 23, 1832, and it was signed by Field Marshal, Ernest, Duke of Cumberland.
During the European war of 1812, One Orangeman who settled in Canada after serving in the British military was John Quin of County Armagh. He had joined the Royal Horse Artillery in 1798 and had fought with the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War. In all he fought in thirteen battles, including the Battle of Waterloo.
Here in the 1812 war of the America’s, there were Orangemen with General Brock at Queenston Heights and at Beaver Dams and Lundy's Lane in the war of 1812. During the War of 1812, the invaders from the United States had noted that Orangemen formed the backbone of the defence against them. One interesting footnote to the War of 1812 that Orangemen played the major role in was in recognizing the part played in the defence of Canada by the Six Nations Indians.
At a meeting at the Six Nations Orange Hall, in 1940, the members asked the Grand Master of Ontario West, C.W. Armstrong to use his influence in having a plaque placed at the monument at Queenston Heights in memory of the Six Nations Indians who had served and fought under General Brock.
At the 1941 Grand Lodge Sessions, Armstrong reported that he had contacted the controller of the National Parks Bureau and requested that they rectify this oversight. As a result of his request a bronze tablet was affixed to the General Brock Monument and that:
"Our Orange brethren on the Six Nations Reserve are proud of this recognition of the part played by their brave ancestors, and we all join in paying tribute to the Indians who fought and died that Canada may remain as an integral part of the Empire we belong to."
Upper Canada Rebellion 1837-38
The year 1837 witnessed the "Rebellion of Upper Canada." Lieutenant Colonel Ogle R. Gowan, who is often regarded as the "Founder of Orangeism" in Canada, commanded the Queen's Royal Borderers. At the battle at Hickory Island, Gowan established his military credentials. The affair took place on February 22 and 23, 1838. The majority of
the members of the Canadian militia units that defeated the Mackenzie rebels and preserved Canada from being annexed by the U.S. were Orangemen. Later in the year he was wounded three times, slightly, at the "Battle of the Windmill," near Prescott, Prescott, Ontario, in the County of Grenville occurring in November 1838.
It was here that for four days in 1838 a republican American society named the Patriot Hunters (Hunter Lodges) fought a pitched battle with Canadian militia, many of them Orangemen. The battle came at the end of the Upper Canada rebellion that had been instigated and promoted by William Lyon Mackenzie. Through editorials in his newspaper, the Colonial Advocate, and speeches made throughout Upper Canada and the United States, including one in Ogdensburg, New York, on February 12, 1838 he had misled many Americans about the loyalty that the vast majority of Canadians had towards Britain and the Crown. Mackenzie's son James was a member of the Hunters and also published their newspaper, The Freeman's Advocate from Lockport, New York.
Mackenzie convinced many Americans that Canadians would join an invading force in throwing off the "yoke of British imperialism". These misleading statements and the fact that many Americans wished to drive all British influence from North America gave rise to the growth of a secret American society known as the Patriot Hunters.
This society had found fertile recruiting ground in upper New York State, for many of the citizens living there had reason to remember the British and the Orangemen from the War 1812 just twenty-five years before. During the War of 1812, the invading troops from the United States had noticed that Orangemen formed the backbone of the defence against them and had spoken very bitterly about it.
What were Hunter Lodges? The members of this organization were pledged to seek a republican form of government for Canadians. In the oath which was taken by each Hunter was the phrase;..."especially never to rest till all the tyrants of Britain cease to have any domain or footing in North America." In September of 1838 a convention of the lodges of Ohio and Michigan was held at Cleveland where a "Republican Government of Upper Canada" was formed.
Throughout 1838 they conducted numerous acts of terrorism on Canadian soil including the burning of known Loyalist's property and even murder. They hoped by these acts to show Republican sympathizers in Canada that they were a major force and to cause them to rally to their support. Instead, these acts were deplored by Canadians and were eventually to secure their defeat.
The Hunters had their own banking scheme, secret cypher, and flag. The flag was an eagle which symbolized the United States swooping down and clutching a lion which represented Great Britain, and the four corners containing stars. Their motto was "liberty or death", which is certainly contradictory to their stated goal of depriving Canadians of their liberty to remain a colony of Great Britain
The motive of the Hunters in their drive to "liberate" Canadians was not all one of patriotism. Included in their plans to attack Canada was the fact that all Loyalist property was to be confiscated and each member of the invading army was to be given the right of plunder, a cash bounty of $20.00, and in addition they were promised $10.00 a month while on service and 160 acres of land in Upper Canada when the invasion succeeded.
Canadian Orangemen were well aware of Hunter activities and of the danger that they posed to Upper Canada. As the largest fraternal society in the colony and one that was dedicated to maintaining ties with Great Britain at all costs they had watched the growth of the Hunters Society with growing alarm. The Society of Hunters had been recognized as a danger to Canadian Orangemen and they took steps to make all members aware of it.
Fenian Raids from the USA 1866-71
The name "Fenians" was first applied by John O'Mahony to the members of the Irish nationalist organization which he founded in America in 1858. O'Mahony, who was a Celtic scholar, named the American wing of the movement after the Fianna, the legendary band of Irish warriors led by Fionn mac Cumhaill.
During the Fenian Raids, these Americans made several attempts (1866, 1870, etc.) to invade some parts of southern Canada which was the British Dominion. At the time of the Ridgeway Battlefield the Grand Lodge of British America postponed its meeting (usually held in the spring) until September because "nearly every Grand Lodge officer and about 1,000 members were at the front." Three quarters of the enlistments were Orangemen.
The ultimate goal of the Fenian raids was to hold Canada hostage and therefore be in a position to blackmail the United Kingdom to give Ireland its independence. Because of the invasion attempts, support and/or collaboration for the Fenians in Canada became very rare even amongst the Irish.
One lesser known Orangeman who served during the Fenian Raids, but who was to win a place in Canadian Orange history was Brother George Richardson. He served with the Prince of Wales Royal Rifles as a sergeant during the raids but prior to that, in 1855, he had enlisted in the 34th Border Regiment in England.
He also served in India, and on Apri127, 1859, at Cawnpore, he won the Victoria Cross. The London Gazette reported that: "Richardson did, despite the fact that his arm was broken by a rifle bullet and leg slashed by a sabre, rushed to the aid of his officer, who was attacked by six of the enemy, and that, crippled as he was, succeeded in killing five, and the sixth fled. It was also said of him that he was on three other occasions during the Indian mutiny recommended for the Victoria Cross, and that he refused a commission. In the end, he received his decoration personally from Queen Victoria in London in 1860.
Riel Rebellions (Northwest Rebellion) 1885
During the time of the Riel Rebellions members of the Royal North - West Mounted Police, who were essentially Canada's first defence in the West, formed a lodge and the Royal Grenadiers (Toronto) had 250 men of whom 148 were Orangemen and these saw service at Fish Creek, Batoche and Cut Knife Creek.
Alexander Muir, who composed that great Canadian patriotic song, 'The Maple Leaf Forever", carried to his grave a stiff left arm as the result of a wound he received in the Northwest Rebellion and he was with the Queens Own Rifles as a lieutenant in fighting and defeating the Fenians at Ridgeway. Muir was a school principal and was a member of Ontario L.O.L. No. 142, in the city of Toronto.
That same year the Grand Master of Ontario East, William Johnson stated in his address to the membership: "It was my privilege to witness the departure for the North West of the men who formed two of the companies of the now famous Midland Battalion.... One scene in the departure of "A" Company from Belleville will never be effaced from my memory. Amid the wild enthusiasm, the deafening cheers...... the Company was marching up Front Street in "columns of half companies." On the left of the front rank was a Lieutenant, at his left a Corporal, and on his right marched with the Company a gentleman dressed in clerical garb. They seemed absorbed in each other, and heeded not the excitement all around them. These three were father and two sons, the Rev. John Halliwell, Deputy Grand Chaplain of this Grand Lodge, and his two sons, Lieutenant J.E. Halliwell, and Corporal E.A.E. Halliwell. The father seemed proud to have two such sons, and the sons proud to have a father who, with his blessing and encouragement to inspire them, was willing to give them up at their country's call. Going forth under such auspices, and inspired by the noblest purposes, it need not be wondered at, that at Batoche they
"Foremost 'mid the fighting fell, and will for life carry with them the noble scars received on that well-fought field."
The Halliwells were without a doubt a staunch Orange family. Lieutenant Colonel Halliwell was in command of 'A' Company at the charge of Batoche, where he was seriously wounded. Captain E.A.E. Halliwell was shot five times while trying to carry his brother from the field of battle. He was later to become the British Vice Consul for the Republic of Mexico.
During the time of the Riel Rebellions the members of the Royal North - West Mounted Police, who were essentially Canada's first defence in the West, formed a lodge and the Royal Grenadiers (Toronto) had 250 men of whom 148 were Orangemen and these saw service at Fish Creek, Batoche and Cut Knife Creek.
The Boer War 1899-1902
The South African War was to be the first conflict that Canadian Orangemen were involved in great numbers, that also necessitated their leaving Canada and fighting overseas. To many of them it must have seemed a great adventure. It must also have given them a new perspective on the Orange Order. Doubtless they must have met Orangemen from different parts of the Empire and perhaps for the first time they fully realized that Orangeism was a worldwide fraternity and not just a local phenomenon.
Canadian Orangemen once again enlisted in large numbers and fought alongside the British against the Boers in South Africa. Indeed, in 1895 the 36th Peel Regiment held their annual summer training camp at Beeton, Ontario. During the tenure of the camp a County Lodge meeting was held and Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Tyrwhitt, the Commanding Officer and a staunch Orangeman, gave all Orangemen serving in the Battalion the day off in order to be able to attend the meeting. Not surprisingly, almost the entire Regiment announced that they had strong Orange sympathies.
"For Orangemen are always ready if need be to offer their lives in defending the honour and glory of the Empire. All honour to those sons of Canada who have gone to South Africa!"
George Sterling Ryerson who had served during the Northwest Rebellion also saw duty during the South African War. He was one of the top ranking Canadian commanders during the war and he was awarded the Queen's Medal for his service. Of interest is the fact that in 1896 he had been instrumental in founding the Canadian Red Cross Society.
Sam Hughes, who was later to play such a prominent role during the Great War, served in the Canadian military during the South African War. He had began his military career as a lieutenant with the 45th Battalion in 1873, rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1897. In South Africa he served as the chief of the intelligence staff of Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Warren. He later commanded a mounted brigade in the capture of Douglas and Orpen’s Heights and later was the officer in charge of the capture of three hundred Boers near Kuruman.
The Grand Lodge published a list of members and sons of members who had enlisted and it was announced that L.O.L. No. 1527 of Fort McLeod had closed down because so many of its members had gone to war. Clarke Wallace reported to Grand Lodge in 1900:
"Great Britain has once more been called upon to assert her rights in defence of the integrity of the Empire and justice and equality to her subjects in the Transvaal. In the ranks of the contingents are many Orangemen who, true to the teachings of the Order - to be loyal subjects of the Queen."
In 1900, the Reverend H. A. Fish, a member of L.O.L. No. 904, Hawkestone, Ontario was appointed as chairman of a committee to compose a resolution of condolence to the family of Fred Wasdell of Bracebridge who lost his life in South Africa. Wasdell was a member of the 3rd Victoria Rifles, Royal Canadian Regiment.
The years following the South African War and those leading up to the Great War, saw thousands of Orangemen in positions of influence in the Canadian military. Many regiments had Orangemen as their commanding officers and they provided a strong voice in favour of maintaining a strong volunteer Canadian militia and of maintaining close ties with the British Empire.
The Great War 1914-18
In the Great War, 1914-1918, tens of thousands of Orangemen and sons of Orangemen joined the colours. Canada's war effort was directed by an Orangeman - Sir Sam Hughes, who, despite being handicap, had Canada's First Contingent in England within ten weeks. There are many incidents, battles, acts of bravery, and sacrifices made that have been made by Canadian Orangemen during the War. Here are a just a few of the many.
The Second Battle of Ypres was the first time Germany used poison gas on a large scale assault on the Western Front in the Great War. In the first week of April 1915, the soldiers of the 1st Canadian Division were moved to reinforce the salient where the British and Allied line pushed into the German line in a concave bend. On April 22, the Germans sought to eliminate this salient by using poison gas. Following an intensive artillery bombardment, they released 160 tons of chlorine gas from cylinders dug into the forward edge of their trenches into a light northeast wind. As thick clouds of yellow-green chlorine drifted over their trenches the French colonial defences and British colonial forces on either side of the Canadians crumbled, and the troops, completely taken aback by this terrible weapon, died or broke and fled, leaving a gaping four-mile hole in the Allied line. A soldier in the Canadian lines discovered the neutralization of the chlorine gas was possible by pressing urine soaked rags over their noses and mouths. The Canadians were the only division that were able to hold the line. All through the night, the Canadians fought to close this gap. On April 24, the Germans launched another poison gas attack, this time at the Canadian line. In those 48 hours of battle, the Canadians suffered over 6,000 casualties, one man in every three, of whom more than 2,000 died. It was to be the first time a former colonial force (Canadians), under Sir Arthur William Currie (spelled Curry at birth), an Orangemen, pushed back a major European power (Germans) on European soil, which occurred in the battle of St. Julien-Kitcheners' Wood Wood.
The Grand Secretary of England instituted a new lodge among the Orange officers and men of the 4th Battalion. After the second battle of Ypres, they never had another meeting. Many of the men had been killed. Only 182 mustered out of a full battalion strength (a WWI British Battalion consisted of 1,007 men) when the first count was made."
The next area where Canadians fought was at the Battle of the Somme July to mid-November. Initially launched as a campaign to relieve pressure from the beleaguered French forces at the Battle of Verdun, the Allied casualties actually exceeded those at Verdun. On July 1, 1916, the British launched the assault which resulted in the largest massacre of British forces - over 57,550 casualties in one day. Among them were 732 men from the 1st Newfoundland Regiment, comprised in large numbers of Orangemen; of the 801 men of the Newfoundland Regiment, only 68 men answered the regimental roll call after the attack. 255 were dead, 386 were wounded, and 91 were listed as missing. Every officer who had gone over the top was either wounded or dead. On the day that the British forces suffered their worst losses in history, the 1st Newfoundland Regiment also suffered its worst loss in its history.
As the fighting continued, the Canadians (with the support of a new 4th Canadian Division) were asked to secure the town of Courcelette. In the major offensive which began at dawn on September 15 the Canadian Corps, on the extreme left of the attack, assaulted on a 2,200-yard sector west of the village of Courcelette. By November 11, the 4th Canadian Division finally secured most of the German trenches in Courcelette and then rejoined the Canadian Corps at Vimy Ridge.
The Battle of the Somme claimed 24,029 Canadian casualties. But it also gave Canadian troops the magnificent reputation for their courage and bravery of a formidable assault force. The Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Lloyd George spoke highly of them when he said:
"The Canadians played a part of such distinction that thence-forward they were marked out as storm troops; and for the remainder of the war they were brought along to head the assault in one great battle after another. Whenever the Germans found the Canadian Corps coming into the line they prepared for the worst."
Grand Master H.C. Hoken, Ex-Mayor of Toronto referred to the record made by the Orange Lodge in sending members to the front.
"They have given proof that this is the conviction of their hearts," he declared. Orangemen have gone overseas by the tens of thousands and they have died by the thousands to prove their loyalty to the Empire and something even greater for the principles of human freedom."
Orangemen also fought gallantly in the battle of Vimy Ridge and an Orange Lodge by the name Vimy was originally formed in 1917, only five months following the historic battle of Vimy Ridge. The lodge commemorates that battle as an historic development in Canadian history and pays homage to the more than 3,600 fatalities and the 11,000 wounded in battle.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge saw the four divisions of the Canadian Corps working together as one formation for the first time and together with the British Corps to their south had, by the end of the battle, captured more ground and prisoners than any offensive up to that point in World War One. The Lodge holds it’s meetings Whitby, Ontario and 2697 is the Lodge number.
Out of a total Canadian force of 600,000 which were largely Protestant men, there were at least 80,000 Orangemen in it’s ranks. When one realizes that the total number of Canadian casualties in World War One were exceeded 60,000, it becomes clear just what a tremendous contribution the Orangemen of Canada had made. It is almost certain that a minimum of 30% of all Canadian casualties in this war were Orangemen or former Orangemen.
Orangemen enlisted to fight for Canada and the Empire in mass numbers. In some cases during both World Wars, entire Lodges enlisted. As in the Great War, some of these Lodges were completely wiped out having all their members killed and were never to re-open again.
World War II 1939-45
R.B. Hanson (leader of the Conservative Party) left no doubt about where he stood on this matter and he made it clear that the Conservative Party of that time still considered Great Britain as Canada's first and foremost line of defence. He spoke against those who not only opposed conscription, but those who considered the United States our strongest ally. Hanson was only stating the obvious. At that time in 1940, both Canada and Great Britain were in a struggle for their very existence while the United States was still in a position of official neutrality.
The Toronto Orange Parade of 1941 was reported in the 'Toronto Star' under the heading, "Toronto Walk is Largest in World in '41". It was reported that over ten thousand Orangemen took part and that this was a decline from previous years because of the many members were either on active service or serving in 'war industry plants'.
The grandson of one of the signers for the Act of Incorporation petition for the Grand Orange Lodge of Canada in 1890 saw active service during this war. Clarke Wallace Floody was a member of Imperial Orange Lodge No. 2767 in the city of Toronto, and served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War Two. He enlisted in 1940 and was trained as a spitfire pilot. While serving with the 401st Squadron in 1941 he was shot down over Europe and was interned in Stalag Luft 111 as a prisoner of war. He had been a gold miner at Kirkland Lake prior to the war and was to put his knowledge to good use. Wally Floody was the designer of the famous tunnels, Tom, Dick, and Harry, that allowed 76 allied prisoners to escape from the camp. Fifty of the recaptured escapees were later murdered by the Germans in reprisal. Floody was a technical advisor on the movie made about this episode; 'The Great Escape'. In case you may have missed it, Wally Floody was named after Nathaniel Clarke Wallace, a former Grand Master of Canada.
Another Toronto Orangeman and future Grand Master of Ontario West, Reverend David P. Rowland, a member of Aughrim Rose of Derry L.O.L. No. 2159, served as chaplain in the Irish Regiment of Canada during this war. He was a Presbyterian minister in charge of York Presbyterian church. With the outbreak of war he resigned from his congregation to accept a commission as Chaplain of the Irish Regiment. He served overseas with them and was awarded the Military Cross and mentioned in several despatches. The following is the citation accompanying the awarding of the Military Cross by His Majesty King George VI:
"This Chaplain has served with The Irish Regiment of Canada since June 1940. During the years of training in Canada and afterwards in Britain he did excellent work in maintaining the state of high morale by his contributions in the recreational and educational field. His contacts with the men in matters of spiritual welfare have been of the best, and his understanding and sympathetic help have earned the appreciation of all ranks. During the Hitler Line Campaign and the attack on the Gothic Line he was of the greatest assistance to the Unit Medical Officer, working unceasingly as long as there was a casualty in the post. Although under constant mortar and small arms fire, the gallant Officer worked from the Regimental Aid Post to the Forward Companies, rendering first aid and personally assisting in the evacuation of the wounded. Honourary Captain Rowland has won the sincere admiration and confidence of the men by showing, as a non-combatant, the desire to share their danger, and his presence has helped greatly to rally the shaken. After the Battle he has worked without rest to assure that the soldiers killed in action should have a reverent and prompt burial. This Chaplain by his devotion to duty, skill and energy in comforting the wounded, and steadiness under heavy shell fire has encouraged and strengthened all ranks, and has set an example most worthy of recognition."
As in World War One, Canadian natives again joined the armed forces in large numbers. The Alderville Reserve, north of Cobourg, Ontario, had a population of approximately two hundred and fifty of whom some sixty-five enlisted, most of them Orangemen. Alvin Hagar, a member of the Ojibwa tribe, joined Alderville L.O.L. No. 1069 in 1936 and he enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1940. He was sent overseas in 1941 and served at Normandy in 1944. He was wounded at Antwerp on October 14, 1944. His father, William, also an Orangeman had served with the 19th Battalion during the Great War and was killed in action on May 8, 1918
"We are justly proud of the manner in which our Order has borne its part in the raising of our Canadian armies. It can be safely stated that no organization of any kind, whether church, fraternal, or political, aye not even the militia of ante-war time, has furnished as high a proportion of men to fight for their King and country as has the Orange Order." - Evan H. McLean, G.M. Ontario East"
There is sure to be endless other accounts of battles
involving Canada's Orangemen and as more information is found or becomes
available, it will be added so that visitors may read of further accounts.
However the above quote sums it up best. Canadian Orangemen, although
their military achievements have been largely overlooked by the history
books, have answered their Nations call time and time again.
Some content provided here has been taken from booklets penned by Alex Rough