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19C Orange violence

Twelfth of July, Montreal, 1877

Montreal Daily Star, 11 July 1877, page 2

Twelth of July

The responsible heads of the Orange Society have agreed to rescind the resolution on the books of the order to celebtrate the Twelfth of July by a public demonstration.  While reserving the Society the right of parading, they yield to the representations made them by a deputation of the City Council and of members of the various national and benevolent societies, and waive what they consider a right in favour of proceeding quietly and unobtrusively to Knox Church on Thursday, there to commemorate their festival.  The action taken by the Orange order is worthy of all praise.  They have listened to the voice of reason, and resolved to act as good citizens, to refrain from anything that would look like a challenge to those who oppose their existence, and to conduct their celebration, in short as becomes peacable and respectable members of a community, respecting the feelings and prejudices of their fellows of different faith or opinion. The thanks of the city are due to the Orangemen in the present instance.  By the exercise of self denial and a moderation of view they have arrived at a decision which certainly will save the city the scenes of violence and disorder which it had reason to anticipate, not at the hands of the Orangemen, but of those who opposed them, for their walking of itself would be a harmless matter.  They have chosen the better part, and for their wise and patriotic conduct they are deserving the commendable approval of the community.  They have, through their representatives at the meeting of last night, expressed a desire to live in a spirit of unity with their brethren of another creed and faith; let us hope that something beneficial will come of their amicable advances in this direction.

The conduct of the Orangemen in the present emergency contrasts more than favourable with the attitude of the Irish Catholic Union, a secret society of the class condemned by the Church.  The Orangemen gave way, not because they were afraid of the armed sections of the Union, but because of their respect for law and order, and of the rights of property.  The Union has maintained its position of menacing hostility throughout, and up to the last moment almost, Mr Devlin, who may be said to have spoken its intentions, prophesied bloodshed. He could not have spoken confidently in advance, if he did not know what the men who have been buying arms and ammunition intended to do.  If, as Mr Devlin in his speech has more than intimated, that the Irish Catholic Union is an organization bound to enforce its opinions by riot and bloodshed, and there is no such thing as getting over the full significance of his remarks, then it is a body of the most dangerously lawless character, worthy of no sympathy at the hand of any good citizen. Upon it, in the event of hostilities, on Thursday, (now rendered improbable) would have devolved all the responsibility, and upon the authorities would have fallen the necessity of extirpating it.  Such an order has no reason of existence in a community like ours, and the sooner those who are its moving spirits learn that they will not be permitted to inaugurate a reign of terrorism unchecked, the better will it be for themselves. We feel pretty sure that the honor and dignity of the Irish Catholic people require no such defence as this organization, revolver-armed, pretends to offer.

No Procession on the 12th, Montreal, 1877

Montreal Daily Star, 11 July 1877, page 1

No Procession on the 12th

The Orangemen Patriotically Accede to the Request of their Fellow Citizens and Abandon the Procession in the Interest of Peace

A great weight has been lifted off the city by the patriotic conduct of the Orange body in acceding to the request of their fellow citizens, and abandoning , for this year, at least, their intention of walking to the church in procession on the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.  This resolution was not arrived at until a few minutes before midnight last night, and the deepest anxiety was manifested by large numbers of citizens who congregated in several places to know the result.  At St Patrick’s Hall the largest gathering with [illegible] and the heads of the Irish Societies were in session until a late hour.  The course that has been pursued reflects honor upon all concerned.  The sp[illegible] of wise concession and forbearance showed by the Orangemen deserve the highest recognition, and the Roman Catholics were among the first last night to acknowledge the spirit of conciliation that was manifested in the resolution arrived at.  Every one looked forward to serious trouble, if not loss of life if the procession took place, and the feeling that was prevailed for some time past in this community has been a profoundly painful one.  Much of the happy result accomplished is owing to the wise and moderate con [illegible] pursued by the leaders of the Irish societies, who suggested and succeeded in getting truly representative meeting yesterday [illegible] all our National Societies. The sensible speeches of those gentlemen, who met in the parlour of the St Lawrence Hall, and notably the observations of the chairman, could not fail to have effect in averting what was looked forward to as a civil war. Our city has been spared scenes of riot and disorder that would have fallen upon her like a nightmare.  Good sense has prevailed, and citizens now look forward to a long continuance of that peace, harmony and good will that should always prevail among a people and by the ties of a common Christianity and citizenship.  The matter has been acquitted in such a form that both sides can co[illegible] shake hands over the result, and no feeling of triumph or defeat be felt on either side.

We stated in last evening’s issue that the meeting in the St Lawrence Hall passed a resolution earnestly among the Orangemen to give up the procession.  This result was communicated to the leaders of the Orange Society by a deputation and a copy of the resolution signed by all the representatives of National Societies, [illegible] added to Colonel Smith and Mr Grant the latter County Master and Chairman [illegible] the mass meeting of Orangemen which was being held in the Orange Hall. These gentlemen promised to lay it before the meeting without delay and return as early as possible with an answer. The signers remained in session awaiting an answer, and the reports from time to time that arrive, up to the last kept up the most painful anxiety to know the result. At 11:45 pm all felt as if they could breath freely, as an advance courier armed with the pleasing news that the resolution was carried (although by a narrow majority) to abandon the idea of  having a procession.  Messrs. Grant and Smith followed soon after as the ambassadors of peace and evidently well pleased to come in that capacity.  The meeting to receive the report took place at once, with Mr Devlin in the chair.  The following is the substance of what occurred.

Mr Grant said there had been a large attendance of the membership of the order, who after discussion had come to a resolution, which had been carried by a small majority, not to make a public demonstration.  The committee would be served with an exact copy of the resolution which had been arrived at. The society reserved their right to march when they pleased, but there would be no procession on the 12th of July this year. The members would proceed to church about half past eleven and trusted that there would be no disturbance or endeavour to hinder them in the charge of their privilege and duty of going to church.

Col Smith said that he had only to say that this decision had been arrived at after earnest deliberation upon the requests of the societies. They had determined to give way but reserved their right to go to church. He trusted the societies would now do their duty and see that the Orangemen were not molested. The society had acted in deference to the wishes of their fellow citizens.

Mr Grant said he ought to state that a deputation from the City Council had this day waited on the Orangemen which had tended in a great measure to influence their decision.

Mr Devlin said it was only necessary for him to say that he congratulated the societies on the result which had been arrived at, which was calculated to sustain and continue the friendly feeling which had existed for years.  He regarded the result, not as a triumph of party, but as a triumph of peace, good will and fellowship, and as such he regarded it.  He would announce the result at another meeting this evening.  All might rest assured that the proceedings throughout had been conducted with good will as tending to the prosperity of the Dominion and of the city of Montreal.

Col Smith said that in light of the society had acted in the interest of peace and good will.

Mr Devlin said he considered the best thanks of the committee and of the citizens generally were due to the gentlemen who had waited upon the committee, and also to all who had cooperated towards this good result. The Irish Catholic societies did not desire to triumph over Protestants, but were actuated by desires for the best interests of the whole country.

Mr Kerry, St George’s Society, said before the meeting separated it ought to thank the gentlemen of the Orange Society present for the interest they had taken in the matter.  He thought a vote of thanks should be passed to them for their kind offices.

Mr McMaster, of the Irish Protestant Benevolent Society, in seconding the motion, said he had no doubt that the gentlemen had made many personal sacrifices for the peace of the city.

Several gentlemen having spoken in this sense.

Col Smith thought that the vote should be passed to the society generally.

Mr Kerry said he should be glad to amend his motion in that sense.

The motion having been carried.

Col Smith, in acknowledging it, said he hoped after all this would be considered brethren.  The meeting adjourned.

Monument to Thos Hackett, Montreal, 1877


From Mount Royal Cemetery, Montreal.  This monument is a piece of history.  It honours Thomas Hackett who was killed on July 12th.  Yes he was an Orangeman, and his death was considered such an affront to Protestants (hard core Orange protestants) in Montreal that they erected this monument above his grave.  It is rife with symbols of the Orange order, including King William in his glory.

The plaque originally stated that he was killed by Catholics, but that line was erased by the cemetery authorities who felt it was too strong a statement.  The plaque also failed to state that the gentleman was peaceably walking in the streets armed to the teeth, but there you go.

In memory of


Thomas Lett Hackett, LOA

Who was barbarously murdered

On Victoria Square

When quietly Returning from

Divine Service

12th July 1877

This monument was erected by Orangemen and Protestants of the Dominion as a tribute to his memory and to mark their detestation of his murderers.


Gavazzi riots, Montreal, 1853

Montreal Pilot, 11 June 1853, page 2

It was our painful duty yesterday to announce a few particulars of the lamentable events that occurred in this city on the occasion of Father Gavazzi’s lecture on Thursday evening. In doing so we confined ourselves almost entirely to the facts that had fallen under our observation; facts which need only be stated to convince every mind of the necessity of a searching investigation as to the causes that led to them. We regret to learn that rumor, instead of, as usual, exaggerating the importance and enormity of the evil, fell short of the reality. The loss of life, which at the time we penned our observations was we believed confined to two or three individuals, has swelled up to a much larger number, besides which many individuals have sustained serious injury, several of whom will be maimed for life. Altogether this is the most deplorable of the many unfortunate events connected with our civil dissensions which it has been our lot to record.
We have not hesitated to express our concern, that M. Gavazzi should have appeared amongst us. Lectures, such as he is in the habit of delivering, can only lead to inflame the passions, and excite religious rancour. We have already too many sources of dissension amongst us for us to wish this element added to our strife. But, whilst we thus decidedly reprobate religious controversies, conducted in the manner in which, those of Gavazzi are, we should be recreated to our principles, were we to hesitate to uphold the right of freedom of discussion, by every sect and persuasion alike; and to visit with our severest censure, any attempts at every infringement of that right, from whatever source it may emanate. We believe that the events of Thursday, where both parties have alike suffered, read a lesson to both—to the one, to respect the religious feelings or prejudices of his neighbor, and to the other to refrain from violently resenting every fancied affront or injury. It is our wish to draw the veil over further discussion; and we trust, that when the first feelings of resentment have died away, the harmony which has at most times- and of late- especially- existed amongst members of the various religious persuasions into which Canada is divided, may be again restored.

Loyal Protection Society and the sacking of Mr Brennan’s house, Montreal, 1845

Montreal Pilot

3 January 1845

We regret to say that two soldiers of the 93rd Regiment acted in a most outrageous manner in Griffintown last evening.  At rather an advanced hour they went into the shop of Mr. P Brennan (whose premises, will be recollected, were recently destroyed by the military and LPS) and demanded liquor, and upon the person in attendance refusing to give them any, they entered into a violent tirade against him and the Irish generally of this city- said that “the three Irishmen in gaol would be hanged and those out on bond would be transported, and if not that they (the soldiers) would burn Brennan’s house to ashes.”  Such was the alarm their conduct excited that Mr. Brennan felt it necessary to guard his premises during the night.  This it must be confessed is unusual conduct on the part of subordinate military men; but when we consider that it was the 93rd Regiment that was called upon to assist the LPS’s in the late violent assault and plunder of Mr. Brennan’s house, and when we, moreover, remember that upon that occasion, Corse, the Magistrate, was heard to say, by the Military as well as others, “Brennan, it is good enough for you, you have been a long time earning it,” when we say, these memorable circumstances are considered it cannot be wondered at that Mr. Brennan is a marked man and that an identity of feeling towards him exists among the civil and military Tories of our city. But Mr. Brennan and Mr. Corse, will both get justice- ay as true as the light that shineth- and we would advise those whom it may concern to attend to the behaviour of the military of Montreal, high and low,- as such conduct has been recently exhibited cannot and will not be endured.  We have received information that leads us to believe that the LPS’s are endeavouring to provoke another disturbance in Griffintown.

[LPS denotes Loyal Protection Society]

Orangeism, Montreal, 1844

Montreal Pilot

15 July 1844


Orangeism- 12th July in Montreal

Our contemporaries have given most dreadful accounts of the proceedings which took place on the 12th July, in this city.  There seems to be a combination amongst them to screen those innocent lambs the Orangemen of all blame.  The Herald laboring in his vocation as usual reiterates some of the falsehoods of which we lately convicted him, and on which we completely silenced him.  He says of Orangeism that it is “a thing which was never heard of in Montreal until it was thrown into the city at the last election.”  That is falsehood no. 1 we proved by his own ally Mr. Parsons of the Times, that it had been in existence here long previously.  Again the Herald says that Mr. Molson’s supporters were all denominated Orangemen.”  This is falsehood no. 2 and we might go on with our catalogue were it worth while.  As to the existence of Orangemen in Montreal we only have to refer to the letter of an Orangeman in the Courier in which it is stated, “several masters of lodges in this city are Englishmen.”  Here is proof that there are several lodges in existence.  A few days ago Orange flags and emblems were produced on the occasion of laying the foundation stone of a new church at which the Governor General was to be present.  Surely this outrage committed only a day or two previous to the Orange anniversary was enough to create excitement especially when it recollected that just at the present the imprisonment of Mr. O’Connell and the riots at Philadelphia have contributed to cause a great deal of excitement among the Irish Catholic population.  Now it is notorious that on the 12th of July many persons were parading the streets with Orange lilies with the obvious intention of insulting the Catholics.  We know of an instance of a young lady (sent no doubt by some evil minded person) who went into the store of a Catholic with a bunch of Orange lilies and asked to leave them on the counter.  The expectation doubtless was that some insult would be offered to the lady and that a handle might be made of it.

We are far from justifying any reprisals on persons guilty of such improper conduct.  We happen to know that in Canada Orange processions have very seldom been interfered with- The Catholic clergy have always exerted themselves to prevent anything like reprisals, and have warned their hearers to keep at home on the 12th July, and not interfere with the Orangemen.

Had that lady been aware that Orange lilies are carried on the 12th of July for the very purpose of insulting a portion of the population, she never would have placed one in her bouquet.  This case also should teach Irish Catholics how foolish it is in them to imagine that every one carrying an orange lily means to insult them.  There is but one feeling with regard to this outrage, and its universal condemnation will, we doubt not, have a beneficial effect in preventing similar ones in future.  The attack on the house in the Quebec suburbs, where, we understand, the members of an Orange Lodge had a dinner, was very unjustifiable, for although we believe that party tunes were played during the night, there can be no excuse for those who take the law into their own hands.  It appears that the Orangemen “were well supplied with arms and ammunition,” a strong proof that they intended to act in such a manner as to exasperate their neighbours.


Orangeman’s day plans, Montreal & Ottawa, 1878

This article describes how the government anticipated the violence that year, after the Mayor of Montreal had nixed plans of a Orange march in the city.

Notice in Daily Star, 6 July 1878, page 2.
Notice in Daily Star, 6 July 1878, page 2.

Montreal Daily Star, 8 July 1878, page 3


Troops to go into camp on the 11th– General Smyth in Command

(Special Despatch to the Star)

Ottawa- July 8.  The Government having received a requisition to preserve order in Montreal city on the 12th July, signed by six magistrates, Major-General Smith has ordered two thousand men to go into camp on Dominion Square on the 11th.  The force will include the Montreal troops, French and English, A and B Batteries, Kingston and Quebec, with Montreal detachment, Lord Aylmer’s regiment from Richmond and other Eastern Townships corps.  The Major-General leaves on Wednesday to take command.  It is expected that he will also be sworn in as Peace Commissioner.  The Magistrates who signed the requisition are Messrs. DL MacDougall, W Clendenning, Adam Darling, George Horne, and John Whyte.

Orangemen being escorted home, Canadian Illustrated News, 1878
Orangemen being escorted home, Canadian Illustrated News, 1878

Francis Hincks on orangeism, Montreal, 1877


Example of Orange activities in Montreal, Montreal Daily Star, 6 July 1878
Example of Orange activities in Montreal, Montreal Daily Star, 6 July 1878

Montreal Daily Star, 1 August 1877, page 2


Sir Francis Hincks on Orangeism


Sir Francis Hincks, in the letter published on Monday upon the Orange question, adopts the view held by the Star, that Orangeism has actually had no raison d’etre in Canada, and he counsels for the future desistance from celebrating the festival of the Order.  Reviewing the question largely, he says: “Canadian Orangemen should no more think of celebrating the anniversary in Montreal than Irish Orangemen in Dublin, Cork, Limerick or Waterford.”  It will be recollected that this was the argument of the Star  before the “Twelfth”, when it urged upon the Orangemen the advisability of refraining from any out-door demonstration, and we agree with Sir Francis that the perpetuation of the celebration may end in building up a permanent animosity of creed and race.  There is this to be remembered, however, in considering the question.  While the Orangemen yielded every point pressed upon them and religiously observed their obligations, they did not resolve to refrain from doing anything lawful.  They would have been perfectly within their right on the Twelfth had they paraded; whoever attacked them would have broken the laws.  Though their parade would have excited the displeasure of a portion of the population, that portion has no dispensation to commit violence.  Orange ribbons and banners have of themselves no significance to the Protestant body as a whole, and it is a fact that Protestants are wont to look with a good deal of amusement upon displays that spring as much from personal ambition to make a figure in a procession as from any adherence to defined principle.  But under our broad Canadian constitution, any man, or any body of men, may publicly make any kind of demonstration that does not conflict with the law, and the authorities are bound to extend them protection from violence or insult.  Some say that the Orange Order is an illegal society, falling within the privilege of the Colborne Act.  This is utter nonsense.  Thought the Order has never been granted the legal recognition of incorporation, its members are perfectly within their right in parading, if they please, while those who molest, or threaten to molest them, are clearly in the wrong.  Even if the society were an illegal one, it would be for constituted authority to prevent its making a street display, and not for irresponsible individuals.


Orangeism has now come to be invested with features which it never before possessed in Canada.  By the sad events of the month, it has grown from being a Canadian copy of an Irish faction that should have died a natural death long ago, to be the representative, in  sense, of principle of equal rights.  This cannot but be perceived by the most unobserving.  If all classes and creeds are on equal footing in Canada, then the Orangemen are on no lower a plane than any other organization, and when they make a display they are entitled to equal respect with any other.  Their display may, to some, be annoying, to others idiotic- it is a matter of sentiment or opinion, but it is representative of the freedom of action and of opinion, of the entire liberty of the subject, which make the proudest boast of Canadians, and he who violently threatens to, or actually does, disturb the peace by molesting their display, breaks the laws and violates the principles of a constitution under which he lives.  No matter how sentiment may be offended, the law does not regard sentiment as an excuse for violence.  The law does not accept prejudices of creed or nationality as conferring any prescriptive right to commit a breach of the peace.  This should be well understood, especially among those who seem to think that because the Orangemen were not attacked bodily on the “Twelfth” a great deal of virtue was exhibited.  There is no credit due any man for refraining from breaking the laws.  In the present instance, the threat implied and expressed, that Orangemen would be assailed if they walked in Montreal, has lifted up an Order, heretofore comparatively insignificant, to a representative position, and rallied around it such sympathy and moral support as it never had before.  Had the Irish Catholics contented themselves to laugh, good-humoredly, at the Orange display, instead of making a tremendous fuss about it, the Order would have remained at its original level.  Things have gone differently, however.


We do not want to see Orangeism perpetuated in Canada, and crystallized into a standing contestation between the faith of the people.  Goodness knows there is enough to be done in building up the country, without wasting time over discussions that are now actually senseless.  There are greater issues depending than the periodical shouting of the glories of William III, a monarch whose Protestantism was so very marked that he could enter into an alliance with a Catholic king against a Protestant power, and whose firm ally was ‘the Protestant Pope.’  Human life is too short to be wasted in petty turmoil, wherefore do we hope that the day is coming when the dissensions which are now embittering the intercourse of people of differing creeds will be sunk in a more fully developed enlightenment.  But this is to be remembered: Canada can never rise to the height of her destiny until her people learn the fundamental principles of civil liberty and equal rights, until all erroneous ideas about exclusive privileges are eradicated.  All men, all religions, all organizations within the law are here free and equal, and no matter what may be the cost, this must be indelibly impressed upon every citizen and subject.  When the doctrine is fully understood, and firmly upheld, then there will be peace.  Not by the abandonment of any right, as Sir Francis suggests, but by mutual acknowledgement of the doctrines lying at the base of our constitution, and that mutual concession which is the best evidence of intelligence.  In the light of a broader  acceptance of the principles to which we have alluded, Orangeism would disappear, but so long as brute force is threatened and organized violence preached, so long must it exist and be entitled to the support of constituted authority and of all good citizens.

Orange commentary, Montreal, 1878

The planned celebrations for Orangeman’s day in 1878 upset so many, that a group of Justices asked for and received permission for the army to come to town to make sure that the anticipated violence did not happen.  It didn’t.  Here is a summation of the day from the Montreal Daily Star.


Montreal Daily Star, 13 July 1878, page 2


Happily the Battle of the Boyne has not been fought over again on the Banks of the St. Lawrence, and to day that peace which appeared so likely to have been broken has been maintained, and the self-appointed champions of King James and King William had no opportunity of again trying their respective strength.  Considering the manner in which authority was divided, it is remarkable that things happened as they did; for with many it was uncertain in whom the authority reposed.  Confidence was therefore, to a certain extent, lost, and it was only the Year of ultimate consequences, should the military intervene, that prevented the breaking out of the long anticipated trouble.  It must certainly have been annoying and irritating to such disciplinarians as General Smythe and Colonel Strange, who were upon the ground, to have to stand by quietly and witness such demonstrations as were tolerated, when ample power was at their command to suppress them.  But, as the old saying is, “All’s well that ends well.”

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