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Orangemen and the Orange Order: Canadian History in Vintage Postcards

Orange Order Flag, Canada Highlighting in vintage postcards the history of towns and townships in the greater Lake Nipissing and Lake Temagami areas of Northern Ontario, Canada including the Nipissing District and portions of the Parry Sound district which are in the “Blue Sky Region.” These Canadian postcards are shown in digital, virtual museum format for educational purposes. If you have images or historical information which you’d like to share with our virtual museum, feel free to do so. To navigate these pages, mouse over the top navigation bar. Drop-down menus will appear of the areas of interest. Click on the thumbnails for larger images. Close the larger image before opening another thumbnail. The occasional duplicates for sale can be found using the search box on the main (home) page of VintagePostcards.org. This is an ongoing project; comments and questions to the webmaster at webmaster - at sign - vintagepostcards.org are welcome.

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North Bay, Orangemen in an Orange Parade Down Main St., 1884

One of the more important images in our collection is this 8 x 10” photograph of the “Orange Celebration North Bay July 12 1884,” as the photograph taken by E. W. Ross of North Bay states. Looking west on what we think is Main St. E., a wooden boardwalk (seen in the foreground) provides an excellent example of what early sidewalks looked like, before they were made of poured concrete. The parade is headed up by a gentleman on a white horse who represents King William of Orange, and a gentleman wearing a sash who rides a dappled horse. No doubt these two Orangemen were quite prominent in North Bay, and we’d like to know who they are. A marching band plays behind the two horse riders; each band member’s hat has a white plume on it. In the distance, there appears to be an arch through which parade participants pass. Does anyone have information on this arch? After their parade, Orangemen lodges sometimes organized family celebrations, known as “Times,” which included communal meals, dancing and/or picnics. The Lady Patricia Lodge of North Bay (Lodge 256) was organized for the wives of Orangemen, and was part of the Ladies Orange Benevolent Association (LOBA) in 1972. A RootsWeb genealogy page also shows that there was a LOBA Lodge No. 83 — Lady Mary — in North Bay in 1972.

 

Two early churches spires are seen, one at far left and a white church steeple behind some of the storefronts. We think that the white church steeple may have been St. Mary’s on the Lake, which was located where the Cochrane-Dunlop building was built in 1911 (later Lefebvre Sports, 122 Main St. W.), as the original Catholic church was in a small frame building on Main St. W. St. Mary’s dating to the mid-1880s, which would correspond with the 1884 date of this photograph.

To the North Bay, Ontario main page.

 

Numerous early storefronts need further identification in this important photograph; we’d love to hear from you if you have further information. For example, at right front (on the side of the street closest to the parade) is a two-story brick building in the Italianate style, which was popular from about 1860 to 1885. A sign in the storefront window appears to say: “Choice Groceries.” Does anyone know who the owner of the grocery store was? The fourth building down on that side of the street has a partially legible sign appearing to say: “Kinsell & Co.” What kind of store was this, and who owned it? The Ross photograph, which is somewhat faded, has been digitally enhanced for additional clarity by photographer Rick Muscoplat. Thank you, Rick, for helping us all to better enjoy this 19th c. photograph.

On the back of the E. W. Ross & Co. image are penciled notations saying what looks like “Rack & Green”, and the name “John Jarvis, C. C.” We welcome further information on these notations.

King William of Orange (William III), as Painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller

Orangemen’s Day (also known as The Glorious Twelfth, or the Twelfth) is a Protestant celebration held annually on 12 July. Originating in Ireland during the 18th century, Orangemen’s Day simultaneously celebrates the Glorious Revolution (1688) and the Battle of the Boyne (1690), at which Protestant King William of Orange defeated Catholic King James II. The Battle of the Boyne, an important part of Ireland’s history, was pivotal in shifting the balance of power between Catholics and Protestants in Great Britain and Ireland. Orange Order members and their marching bands still hold large parades throughout Northern Ireland, although the popularity of the Orange Order and its parades declined in the 20th century due to to the perception that the Order is sectarian and supremacist. This Protestant celebration is a public holiday in Northern Ireland and, to a lesser extent, in other parts of the world where Orange lodges have been founded. For example, Orangemen’s Day is still an official provincial paid holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador, observed on the Monday closest to July 12th.

 

Orangemen’s Day, while not a public holiday in other Canadian provinces, has produced the longest consecutively held parade in North America. The Twelfth March in Toronto, which began in 1821, was Toronto’s largest parade until the 1970s. Thousands of Orangemen marched past tens of thousands of spectators. At the time, the Orange Order was so influential that Orange Order membership was almost an unspoken prerequisite for holding public office. With changing social mores and multi-culturism, however, the influence of the Orange Order and the parade’s popularity have drastically diminished; only about 500 people participate in modern Orange parades in Toronto. Gay Pride parades, Carnival and Khalsa Day (a Sikh celebration) far outstrip the popularity of the Orangemen’s parade.

 

As English Protestant settlers moved north from southern Ontario into the Nipissing District, they carried with them their social customs, including the Orange Order. Based on records donated to the Institute for Community Studies and Oral History (ICSOH, a part of Nipissing University which ceased activity in 1910), the first Orange Lodge in North Bay, Lodge 876, was established in 1888 and was active for over a century. However, this photograph dated 1884 calls the 1888 date into question. John W. Richardson — who began serving as North Bay’s Mayor in 1902 — was first Master of the Orange Lodge, serving in that position for nine of the first 17 years of the Lodge.

 
North Bay, Orange Lodge Building, Late 19th C.

A 1940s CKC real-photo postcard (left) shows the handsome late 19th c. brick building at the corner of Fisher and McIntyre Sts. which was originally the home of the Orange Lodge in North Bay. In 1942, Bethel Gospel Hall moved to the Orange Lodge building. The Lodge burned in 1963-1964, with Bethel relocating to the corner of O’Brien St. and McKeown Ave. (1710 O’Brien St.) Two of the four corners at the Fisher and McIntyre intersection are parking lots, including a parking lot for the Sands Motor Inn at 366 McIntyre St. E. which incorporates the stone foundation of the Orange Lodge. Part of the stone foundation can be seen in the foreground of the c. 1960s chrome postcard of the Sands (right) and its “Wishing Fountain.” It’s often interesting, as an architectural historian, to “read” the built environment. (It’s sort of like putting together the pieces of a puzzle.) Learn more about the Orangemen in North Bay and Powassan.

North Bay, Remaining Stone Foundation of the Orange Lodge
 
Powassan, Orangemen Parade with Orange Lodge Banners

In 2004, however, the building which had housed the Orange Lodge (Where was it?) was sold and some records from North Bay Lodge 876 as well as records from several other area lodges were donated to ICSOH. The earliest donated material is an 1889 Roll Book from Powassan Lodge 758. Other materials include 78 roll books, minute books, ledgers and membership ledgers. Some of the contents can be seen in archived ICSOH records. One of the higher degrees mentioned in the ICSOH materials is the “Royal Arch Purple.” The Orange Order was replete with symbolism, and an arch can be seen in the distance in the North Bay Orange celebration photograph. To the left is seen a vintage postcard showing downtown Powassan buildings and crowds gathered for the 12th July Parade. Some of the Orangemen have already passed by. Careful inspection shows that there are two Orangemen banners being carried by members of the Orange Lodge. While the Toronto publisher’s name is illegible, the post card was mailed on 10 April 1911. Since the Orangemen parade occurs in July, the postcard is from no later than 1910. It was sent by someone named Leyda to Miss Lottie Belleau of Beamsville, Ontario, in the Niagara Peninsula region.

 
 
Orangemen in an Orange Parade in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2011, with Some Costume Similarities to Clothing Seen in the 1884 North Bay Orange Celebration

The most important symbol to Orangemen was the color orange, as it represents monarchs in the House of Orange in general and King William of Orange in particular. This color is seen on banners, collarettes and other items. During Orangemen parades, men usually wear white shirts and gloves under dark suits, and orange collarettes. Collarettes are narrow bands of cloth draped around the neck, fastened in front to form a “V” shape on the wearer’s chest. The collarettes are decorated with symbols that represent the Orange lodge to which the member belongs, the positions he holds, and the awards he has received. Resemblances can be seen between this contemporary 2011 photograph of an Orange Parade in Belfast, Ireland and some of the clothing worn in the 1884 North Bay photograph.

 
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In Canada, many Orangemen’s Day parade banners have an orange or blue background and the name of the lodge they represent. Symbolism often used includes:

  • A cross
  • The Bible
  • Biblical texts
  • A crown representative of the British Monarchy
  • King William of Orange, often seated on a white horse (as seen above in the North Bay photograph)
  • Water representing the River Boyne
  • Red or orange maple leaves representing Canada

 

According to Google maps, Orange Hall is presently located at 375 Sherbrooke St. in North Bay. We don’t understand how this correlates with the ICSOH statement that the building which housed the Orange Lodge was sold in 2004, with some contents archived at ICSOH. Any information on this would be appreciated.

Learn more about the Orange Order, in books such as the 1867 Grand Orange Lodge of Central Canada: Report of the proceedings of the…annual session of the Right Worshipful the Grand Orange Lodge of Central Canada and A Sermon Preached July 12th, 1855, in the Brock Street Presbyterian Church, Kingston, Before the Loyal Orange Lodges of the Midland District (Classic Reprint).

 

Old antique postcards tell the stories of North Bay, Temagami, Bear Island, Bonfield, Callander and Corbeil, Commanda, the Ferguson Highway (Highway 11), Marten River, Alderdale, Monetville and Noëlville, Nipissing Village, Powassan and Trout Creek, Sturgeon Falls, Sundridge, Tomiko Ontario, Trout Lake, Restoule, South River, Tilden Lake, Lavigne and Verner, Dokis, Rutherglen, Trout Mills and other areas of interest. Enjoy the story of Frederic Remington moose hunting near Mattawa, and the story of the Orangemen Parades in North Bay and Powassan. Or, see our collection of rare New Ontario Brewery artifacts.

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