This photo shows one of the more impressive buildings in “downtown” Queensborough, the building that once housed the Loyal Orange Lodge (L.O.L., as you can see on the front of the building). The Orangemen were quite the force in rural Ontario once upon a time, but in my family’s quarter the institution (as opposed to the individual members – that’s an important distinction) was not, shall we say, held in high esteem. The Orangemen set themselves up in opposition to the Roman Catholic church and tradition, and while my family was staunchly Protestant, my father the United Church minister had no time for wars of religion or religious discrimination of any sort – or organizations that sympathized with same.
Today, July 12, is an important day in Orangedom – the “Glorious 12th,” the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, when the Protestant William (of Orange) defeated the Catholic James; they were rivals for the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland. The Orange Lodge traditionally held a parade (white horse and all) on July 12 to celebrate the victory.
A while back in response to one of my posts, my friend and former colleague Brian, in Abu Dhabi, sent in his memories of summers in a small Ontario town where the Orangemen were a force:
“My sister and I found the whole town mortally dull except for the annual LOL parade (back in those days LOL meant Loyal Orange Lodge). And the maiden aunt with whom we stayed wouldn’t let us, good Catholic kids, get anywhere near the parade, no matter how much we wanted to see the white horse, because obviously the Protestants would murder us if we got close.”
He’s laughing about it now, but for sure the tensions were real in those days.
There was always an Orange parade on July 12 in our area – Madoc, I think, but my family would always have been at the family farm in Haliburton County then because my dad took “vacation” (working 14 hours a day harvesting the hay) in July, so we weren’t around. Not that we would have attended even if we were.
But Dad was well aware of the parade and always found one fact about it most amusing: every year the same man was chosen for a position of pride, holding the open Bible (at a passage that must in the Orangemen’s minds have backed up their anti-Catholic position, though of course nothing in the Bible does anything of the sort). The great thing about this guy filling that role year after year was this: he couldn’t read.