2016 – Confederation

By: Grantham, Kyle, Ian and Kyra

The confederation of Canada in 1867 marked the start of the modern Canadian identity. Confederation strengthened the relationship between Canada and Britain, and unified the country. The newly founded nation caught the attention of many British and American men and women who were loyal to the British Crown. Some were enticed to settle in Canada by the prospect of cheap and abundant land.

Confederation meant no divorce from the Crown, especially in the culture of local communities. This can be seen by the rise in popularity English supporting clubs such as the Loyal Orange Lodge and Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire. The commemoration of the Royal Crown and Canada’s strong ties to Britain is shown in the ceremonies and memorabilia that was apparent across the nation in regard to the Queen’s death.

Today in Dufferin County, and by extension Canada, we can look back to confederation and see Britain in our roots, from the English architecture of the Orangeville town hall, to the Queen on our $20 bill.

To view and learn more from our research summary click the link here!



Souvenir Plate, United Empire Loyalist, Orangeville, ca. 1900
This plate was created in the year 1900 as a souvenir echoing the faith to the British Empire that caused many families to emigrate from the United States to Canada during and after the American Revolution (1765-1783). The owner of this plate had United Empire Loyalist ancestors who settled in Dufferin County following the War of 1812.

This white porcelain plate, boldly titled “For The Unity of The Empire”, is a piece of English memorabilia promoting faith in the British Empire. Issued by the United Empire Loyalist Association and created by Wood & Sons, England, in ca. 1900, this plate is a decorative placard representing the owner’s loyalty to the Royal Crown. The image on the front of the plate is modeled after the United Empire Loyalist monument in Hamilton, Ontario.

This plate was passed down through generations of United Empire Loyalists who immigrated from the United States to Dufferin County after the American Revolution. This memorabilia of UELs is symbolic of the many United Empire Loyalists who moved to Canada. Many of those loyalists were granted free land in mostly unpopulated, small communities. One of these loyalists was Orange Lawrence who is known today as the founder of Orangeville. Settlement of UEL’s helped to increase the population of Canada West (Upper Canada) and fortify the predominance of British rule.



Pin, Imperial Order of Daughters of the Empire, Orangeville, ca. 1945
This pin belonged to Audrey Bracken (1911-1997), a longtime member of the IODE (Imperial Order of Daughters of the Empire) in the Lord Dufferin chapter of Orangeville. The IODE’s main objective was to promote loyalty to the British monarch for the betterment of their nation and people.

The IODE pin is round white, red and blue pin with gold lettering around the edge that says “Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire”. A red and blue crown sits on top of the pin, the flag in the centre has white and gold tipped top projecting past the edge.

The IODE was an imperialist group that was created in Britain. Margaret Polson Murray was the founder of IDOE in the year 1900. The IODE was created to maintain Canadian loyalty to Britain and British social values through activism and projects led by women.

The Lord Dufferin chapter in Orangeville was organized in October, 18 1907. Christie Mckeown was the one who founded the Dufferin chapter of the IODE in 1907. The IODE in Dufferin County is best known for helping to establish The Lord Dufferin Hospital.

Audrey Bracken lived in Orangeville with her husband, Ewing V. Armstrong, who owned a creamery. Audrey’s brothers Bruce and Hugh owned the Orangeville transport. The IODE and Audrey’s family helped grow and strengthen Orangeville and shape it into what it is today.

Similarly, the IODE helped to promote the ideals and vision set out by the founders of Confederation – to see the growth and prosperity of Canada as a nation. Groups like the IODE helped to promote and influence Canadian services and businesses.




Queen Victoria Memorial Ribbon, James Curry, Farmington, Amaranth Township, ca. 1901

James Curry received this ribbon in honor of Queen Victoria in Great Falls, Montana on the occasion of her death in 1901. Curry was American-born, but lived much of his life in Farmington, Amaranth Township before returning to the United States. This ribbon was passed down through four generations of the Curry family. This ribbon seems to represent loyalty amongst average citizens to the British Monarch.

A black ribbon with gold lettering, 2 inches wide and 9 inches long. Lettering says “Memorial Service, Queen Victoria, February 3, 1901, Great Falls, Mont.” There is also an image of Queen Victoria on the ribbon.

James Curry received the memorial ribbon in Great Falls, Montana in 1901. Although James Curry’s family came from the United States, he remained in Canada for most of his life, but did return to the United States. Prior to coming to Canada, it is known that he sold wagons during the American Civil War to both the Confederacy and the Union. When the war ended, his wagon business with his brother dried up and he took up work as a blacksmith.

Curry eventually moved to Churchville, Ontario and then onto Farmington, Amaranth Township.  He likely came to Canada for work, but also as a loyalist to the British monarch. Perhaps this ribbon signifies that there were loyalists in Canada and Dufferin County.

Queen Victoria, featured on this ribbon, was a supporter of Confederation and is often called the “Mother of Confederation”. She had a large influence in Canada becoming united. She believed that Confederation would make Canada prosperous and said “I take the deepest interest in it,” to a Nova Scotian delegate. This ribbon commemorating her death speaks to the loyalism among Canadian citizens who also supported Confederation under which Canada would maintain close ties with Great Britain.

The day of Queen Victoria’s death would have been important to Canada. The Queen was very respected because although young when she ascended to the throne, she changed the tarnish of the crown in her reign. Queen Victoria was seen as the “Mother of Confederation” as well as the ruler of Canada for a long time. She was well loved in most parts of Canada and granted Royal Ascent for Confederation.


Membership Ribbon, Loyal Orange Lodge, Stanton, Ontario, ca.1900
This is a membership ribbon for the Loyal Orange Lodge in Stanton, Ontario, made in the early 1900’s. These ribbons would be awarded to every member of the Lodge and worn on the chest. The ribbons would signify both the member’s rank, and the lodge to which they belonged.

An orange and purple double layered ribbon with a second orange layer and crest on the front, with golden tassels on the side. It is a ribbon and is from the fraternal organization named the Loyal Orange Lodge (L.O.L.) in Stanton, Ontario.

This ribbon has the same design as other membership ribbons from the 1900’s. Every member was given one of these ribbons when they were accepted into the Lodge. Each ribbon has the number and location of the lodge that the member belongs to. The ribbons were worn on the chest with the Orange and Purple side outwards for regular meetings, with the Black side shown when a member had died, or they were in mourning.

The Orange Lodge was a public, fraternal organization. Membership was commonly passed down from father to son. It was considered an honour to be a part of the Order. The L.O.L. was a group who represented Irish and English Protestants, and so had great support in Dufferin, a very protestant county. If a member of the L.O.L. dies, then the other members of the lodge would help to cover the funeral and help organize the funeral. However, the group did not welcome members of other religions and races, despite having a firm belief in brotherhood and unity. L.O.L. had multiple different levels, with the Crimson Lodge being the top level, and the bottom level being the Orange Lodge. The organization was very secretive, making their inner-workings, very hard to research.

There were several Loyal Orange Lodges in Dufferin County. The Stanton Lodge was one of many Loyal Orange Lodges, spread across Ontario. The presence of the L.O.L. in Stanton shows that even small villages were under their influence. Sometime after 1856 and before 1900, the Stanton lodge merged with the lodge in Mulmur.

None other than perhaps the most famous Father of Confederation, Sir John A. MacDonald was a member of the Loyal Orange Lodge. Association with the Orange Lodge seems to have helped maintain his political career. Many of his first campaigns for Confederation took place within Orange Lodges. It has even been speculated that he intended to model government after the structure of the Orange Association. Therefore, it can be said that one of the most influential leaders of Confederation made decisions that were greatly influenced by the Loyal Orange Lodge. MacDonald was, however, decisively less anti-Catholic than many Orangeman – a belief that would have hindered his political career.