Remembering Orange Lawrence

OrangeOne of my clients asked me about who the founder of Orangeville was.  So, today’s post is about Orange Lawrence.

Located in Orangeville’s historic charm of downtown, is a 7.5-foot , 2,700-pound sculpture of Orange Lawrence.  It was put in place by a huge crane on September 2nd 2012, by sculptors Donna Pascoe and Peter Turrell.

According to the towns web site, the sculptors developed a technique to use magnesium phosphate cement for art casting. The sculpture also contains stainless steel re-bar and 10 percent non-recyclable glass. The sculpture, paid through donations, stands on a

Orange Lawrences grave

Orange Lawrence’s grave at Greenwood Cemetery in Orangeville west end (Hwy 109 & Veterans Way

base and towers above street level to welcome those coming into Town. The sculpture depicts the Town’s founder with his coat over his left shoulder, sleeves rolled up, and working plans in hand, symbolically ready to build his mill on Mill Street (now the Mill Creek Pub).
A time capsule, containing the Lawrence family tree and an excerpt from family historian Doug Kirkwood’s Family Reunion book, has been placed in the base of the sculpture.

History of Orange Lawrence (provided by the Dufferin County Museum & Archives):

  • Orange Lawrence was born in Connecticut, USA in 1796, and was the youngest of nine children. His parents Jonathon and Tryphena Powers Lawrence moved their family to Canada around 1800.
  • Coming from a family of United Loyalists, Orange Lawrence became a captain in the militia during the Mackenzie Rebellion in 1837.
  • Orange Lawrence bought a farm near Oakville, in Halton Co. in 1823 and moved to Orangeville around 1845, when he was given land from the crown in 1844
  • He was appointed postmaster in 1847.
  • Shortly after coming to Orangeville, which was at that time known at Grigg’s Mills, Lawrence laid out the streets in the southern part of the town.
Orangeville Lawrence's Home

He lived in the southeastern section for a while, but later moved to the property on the corner of York and John Street.

He married Miss Sarah House of Beamsville and they had a family of five girls and three boys. Sarah Street was named after Lawrence’s wife.

  • Orange Lawrence built a sawmill, a gristmill, the community’s first hotel and first store where he opened the first post office.
  • Their daughter Rhoda, married John W. Reid and inherited the family home in 1858. She in turn willed it to her daughters
  • There are many tales surrounding the naming of the Town, but the favourite tale states that on the day of the Town’s baptism, a great number of people were gathered around Lawrence’s new mill site, where the framework was already up. Mr. Corbett hung a bottle of whiskey from the highest plate (as it was custom), and stated “A good frame deserves a good name. What shall we call it?” An Irish lady, Mrs. Newton shouted “call it Orangeville”. And so began its name
  • Orange Lawrence’s construction can still be seen around Town today, one of the oldest works being the Greystones Restaurant, which at the time of its construction was known as Graham’s Tavern.

The first patent of land was issued to Ezekiel Robinson, a land surveyor, on August 7, 1820. This was followed by land issued to Alan Robinet in 1822. In 1863. As a young man, he moved to Canada and settled in Halton County. During Mackenzie’s rebellion in 1837, he was a captain in the militia. Lawrence purchased the land that became Orangeville from Robert Hughson.

Orange Lawrence's Grave

His personal sacrifices and tireless energy helped to build the community and thriving village.

Orange Lawrence committed suicide December 15, 1861. In 1873, the Act of Incorporation was passed and Orangeville was given town status on January 1, 1874.

Categories: Community News, Culture & Heritage, Orangeville History

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5 replies

  1. why did Orange kill himself?

  2. Thank you for doing this page. Orange Lawrence he was my 4th great grand uncle. We are currently putting together a family tree and this information is extremely interesting.

    • Lola Ann…Orange Lawrence was my 3rd great grandfather. My father’s Mother was Merval Lawrence, daughter of Albert Victor Lawrence…my Grandmother and Grandfather (James Barton Drope), never married…I had some contact with Juanita Rose (?) a long time ago, but not since. I would have loved to have been at the statue ceremony…representing my side of the family…

  3. This man is my husband,Edward Lawrence’s Gr.Gr.Gr. Grandfather. We hope to visit Orangeville sometime.

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