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Orange Order in Canada

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Orange Order in Canada

The Grand Orange Lodge of British America, more commonly known as the Grand Orange Lodge of Canada or simply Orange Order in Canada, is the Canadian branch of the Orange Order, a Protestant fraternal organization that began in County Armagh, Ireland, in 1795. It has played a large part in the history of Canada, with many prominent members including four Prime Ministers, amongst them Sir John A. Macdonald and John Diefenbaker[citation needed], as well as Tommy Douglas[citation needed], founder of the New Democratic Party.

By the third decade of the new century, Order membership growth in Toronto was failing to keep pace with the city's skyrocketing population. And from the 1950s, the organisation began to lose political influence, a change symbolised by the fact that John Diefenbaker proved to be Canada's last Orange prime minister. Its male membership in 1984 stood at just over 14,000 in 616 lodges, a significant drop from the more than 58,000 members and 4000 lodges which made up Canadian Orangeism in 1955. Thereafter, particularly in its Ontario heartland, a slow but steady decline set in. Today, the organisation is dwindling and is viewed as an interesting survival from another age.

Prominent members

  • Four members of the Orange Order 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.
  • Possibly influenced by the number of Irish Newfoundlanders, the majority of whom were Roman Catholic, several of the diplomats who negotiated the Terms of Union between Newfoundland and Canada in 1947 were members of the Orange Order: 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, 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.
  • 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.
  • Angus Walters was the skipper of the Bluenose.
  • Until the late 1960s, almost all Mayors of Toronto were Orangemen with William Dennison being the last Orangeman to serve in office (1967-1972).

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