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Historic Mimico Orange Hall faces an uncertain future

July 2023

The Grand Orange Lodge of British America, more commonly known as the Grand Orange Lodge of Canada, is the Canadian branch of the Protestant political and religious fraternal society The Orange Order. Dating back to 1795, the Orange Lodge was founded in County Armagh in Ireland, to commemorate the victory of Protestant William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

In British North America, the Grand Lodge of the Orange Order was founded in 1830 in Brockville, and it expanded steadily so that there were over 20 lodges in 1860, 31 in 1880, and 56 by 1895. The once very powerful and influential organization has played a major part in the Canada’s history, with members including four prime ministers, including Sir John A. Macdonald and John Diefenbaker. Members of the order held key positions in many of Ontario’s institutions, such as governments, school boards and police forces, and were leaders of industry.

Toronto, once nicknamed “The Belfast of Canada,” was also a major centre for the Grand Orange Lodge. By 1844, six of Toronto’s ten aldermen were Orangemen, and over the rest of the nineteenth century twenty of twenty-three mayors would be as well.

The Mimico neighbourhood in the south-west end of present-day Toronto, once an independent town from 1911-1967, had its own Loyal Orange Lodge. The small building that served as the Mimico Orange Hall, was dedicated to the memory of the men of Sir Edward Carson Loyal Orange Lodge of Mimico who died in World War I. A cornerstone laying ceremony was held on 18 April 1919, officiated by Grand Master Horatio Clarence Hocken, Member of Parliament for Toronto West, with several hundred people in attendance.

The Hall served a number of uses in the community, including by the Mimico Baptist Church, which held their services in the building beginning in 1920, until their purpose built church on Hillside Avenue was ready in 1923.

The Orange Lodge Hall has more recently been used as an Elder Tree Montessori daycare centre. It’s currently up for sale and local residents fear that it may face demolition, as it doesn’t appear on the City of Toronto’s heritage inventory.

Sources: History of the Town of Mimico: Mimico Orange Hall – 46 Mimico Avenue (mimicohistory.blogspot.com), Mimico Orange Hall up for sale after 103 years; condos fears on site (torontonewswire.com), Mimico – Wikipedia, Orange Order in Canada – Wikipedia, Orange Order in Canada | The Canadian Encyclopedia, Horatio Clarence Hocken – Wikipedia, Mimico Orange Hall up for sale after 103 years; condos fears on site (torontonewswire.com).

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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