The Orange in Grey
The history of Orangeism is very deep and complex. In order to fully understand it one would need to examine the entire history of Britain, Ireland and the Reformation. Orangeism as it is known today began to form in 1688, when James II came to the throne. One of his goals was to reestablish Roman Catholicism as the major religion in Britain. A coalition of English political parties was unhappy with this plan, feeling it served to cement James' Catholic political and military alliances in Ireland and France. As a result of this struggle for power, they sent a messenger from London to invite William, the Dutch Prince of Orange, to take over the throne in order to defend the cause of Protestantism. He accepted the challenge and landed at Devonshire, England on November 5th, 1688. William and his army defeated James II at the Boyne River in Ireland on July 12th, 1690. July 12th is still recognized by Orangemen today.
Orange societies in one form or another have existed since 1688. They were organized so that Protestants could join together. The first Orange Lodge was established at The Diamond in Ireland in 1795. The first general meeting took place on July 12th, 1795. The Orange movement spread quickly throughout Ireland and around the world. Countries with strong Orange organizations include England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada.
No record can be found to confirm when Orangeism came to Canada, however most historians agree that there were organizations prior to 1812.
The Loyal Orange Association is organized into a system of lodges. Primary Lodges are located at the local level, Provincial Grand Lodges represent each province and the Grand Orange Lodge, whose headquarters are in Toronto, governs the national body. In Grey County there are four districts each containing a number of lodges established at various dates.
Canada’s Orangemen were often first in uniform in times of conflict showing their allegiance to the Crown and to Canada. Aside from involvement in wars, the Orange men and women promote and maintain the Protestant faith, democracy and the English language. They provide social activities to enrich the lives of their members as well as supporting initiatives to better the community, including children’s homes. The values of Orangeism today remain relatively unchanged. In their own words, they are “Protestant, Patriotic, Fraternal and Benevolent”.