From left, John Arksey, county master for Rideau/St. Lawrence County Orange Lodges, Kevin Bradley, Grand Master of the Carleton Place Lodge, and Mark Alexander, provincial grand master, Ontario East, of the Grand Orange Lodge of Eastern Ontario, stand before The Holy Bible and the Union Jack, key tenants of the Orange movement, during the Carleton Place Lodge’s 185th anniversary celebrations this past September at the hall on Industrial Avenue.
King Billy’s white charger is getting put out to pasture – in Carleton Place, at least, with news that the Loyal Orange Lodge No. 48 will be closing its doors officially on New Year’s Eve.
The decision was made at a meeting of the Lodge this past October, as membership was declining significantly. In fact, the numbers were down so much that Grand Master Kevin Bradley said that members of the Lodge in Montague Township were regularly invited to meetings to make sure that the bare minimum quorum of five was met – a method of operations that was simply not sustainable.
“That’s not how a Lodge should be run,” said Bradley. “Life changes and you have to go along with it.”
During a telephone interview from his home on Wednesday, Nov. 25, Bradley revealed that the Carleton Place Lodge will now merge with the No. 512 Lodge in Montague Township.
“That way, they will have enough to keep going. We’ll go there and support them,” he said. “We will still exist, the Orange Lodge, in Lanark County.”
The Lodge celebrated its 185 anniversary this past Sept. 12 at its hall on Industrial Avenue, and its second-last official event will be its annual Christmas party on Saturday, Dec. 5.
The last anticipated Orange event at the hall will be the annual meeting and dinner of the Rideau-St. Lawrence County Region No. 1 on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016.
The hall will be put up for sale and the historical artifacts and banners will be put on display at the Loyal Orange Lodge No. 434 in Rocksprings. The furniture will be dispersed, as needed, to other Lodges throughout the area. The ladies’ wing of the Carleton Place Lodge will also see its members move to Smiths Falls or Munster, as will the junior Lodge members.
“There will be no Orange presence in Carleton Place at all, except for people who live here,” he said.
The one reminder will be the July 12th parade, commemorating the 1690 Battle of the Boyne in Ireland, between the forces of Catholic King James, and Protestant King William of Orange. Bradley is still the chair of the parade committee. While he does not know where the 2016 parade will be held, he hopes to see the 2017 parade make its way down the streets of Carleton Place, “as long as the town gives permission.”
The decision to close the Lodge, with him as leader, was a heavy one for him to make.
“I didn’t expect that it would be closing,” he said. Some prospective members that he had hoped would sign up never materialized. Had the membership continued to dwindle, “we couldn’t have even had a vote to close.”
He stressed that there will be “no official function for No. 48 to close down,” and that, with their 185th anniversary celebration and their upcoming Christmas party, “we want to end on a high note.”
The Grand Lodge of Ireland issued the original warrant for the Carleton Place Lodge back in 1830. On Feb. 24, 1845, the Irish Grand Lodge recognized British North America as a separate entity and the Lodge’s warrant was re-issued. The Orange Order, a Protestant fraternal organization, was founded in Ireland in 1795 to commemorate the victory of the Protestant King William of Orange over the Catholic forces of King James at the Battle of Boyne in County Meath in 1690. Many years ago, there were 30 Lodges throughout Lanark County. Now, with the closing of the Carleton Place Lodge, only the Montague Lodge and the Smiths Falls Lodge (No. 88), remain. The Almonte Lodge (No. 378) amalgamated with Carleton Place in 1987, Franktown in Beckwith Township (No. 381) in 1992, and Drummond Centre in Drummond/North Elmsley Township (No. 7) in 2013.
In an earlier interview to mark the Lodge’s 185th anniversary, Bradley noted that many streets in Carleton Place are named after families who were amongst the organizations founding members: Henderson, McNeely, Wilson, and Neelin, for example.
The Orange Hall moved to its current and final home on Industrial Avenue on July 12, 1996. They had used the Oddfellows Hall at the intersection of Albert and Beckwith Streets from 1992 to 1996. Before that, they met upstairs at 73 Bridge St., which currently houses The Eating Place restaurant downstairs.
Carleton Place Almonte Canadian Gazette