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Article Published March 23, 2004

By: Paul Milner, Park Ridge, Illinois

BOOK: The Sash Canada Wore: A Historical Geography of the Orange Order in Canada.
    By Cecil J. Houston and William J. Smyth.

    Second printing by Global Heritage Press Inc., Milton, Ontario, Canada 2000. (first printing by University of Toronto Press, Toronto in 1980)

    215 pp., Illustrations, Index, Maps, Hardcover.
This book traces the fraternal organization from its birth in 1795 in rural Ulster, through its migration overseas, to when it became a major social and political force in the colonies of British North American, now Canada. As a result of media focus on the annual 12 July marches in Ireland, the Orange Order is viewed as strongly anti-Catholic. But the book gives a very different impression, portraying a politico-religious society which defended Protestantism, urged loyalty to the British monarchy and promoted the maintenance of Canada’s constitutional arrangements with Britain.

The Orange Order started in Canada as an Irish immigrant organization but quickly transcended into an integrated Protestant organization. Canadian and U.S. born members were attracted to it as well as Protestants from other ethnic groups. The estimate is that one in three Canadian men belonged. The impact was great, especially on communities in remote areas, where it met many social needs. The Order became an integral part of Canada’s colonial history.

This book describes very well, the rise of the Order in the nineteenth century and its gradual demise in the 1970’s. The Order grew initially in Ontario and moved both north and west as the country developed. Almost totally separate was the development in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and lastly in Newfoundland.

The numerical strength of the Order is shown by the number of lodges noted on maps of the different provinces. The Order changed as the political environment changed. However, it would not give up its loyalty to the monarchy and this ultimately reduced its significance in most communities.

This book provides good social and historical information about an organization that impacted the lives of many Canadian families.

Paul Milner,
Park Ridge, Illinois.

Read more about this book >>

Reprinted with permission: originally published in The Federation of Genealogical Societies' FORUM Magazine, vol 12, number 1

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