Ogle Robert Gowan was born at Mount Nebo, County Wexford, Ireland on July 13, 1803, the son of John Hunter Gowan and Francis Anne Turner. His godfather was Colonel George Ogle, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland at that time. Gowan became an Orangeman at the young age of fifteen when he was initiated in County Wicklow. In the 1820’s he published "The Antidote", a small political newspaper in Dublin in partnership with George Perkins Bull. The paper folded when Bull was jailed for slandering a Roman Catholic priest. The parting was a bitter one and Bull and Gowan were to have a running feud both in Ireland and Canada until Bull’s death in the 1850’s. In 1825 Gowan wrote and published his first tract on Orangeism entitled, "The Annals and Defence of the Loyal Orange Institution in Ireland." That year saw the dissolution of the Grand Lodge of Ireland at the urging of the British government and Gowan quickly became the assistant Grand Secretary of the Benevolent and Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland and it was his association with this organization that was to cause so much controversy for him in later years.

Gowan emigrated to Canada in 1829 with his family and settled at Escott Park, Leeds County, Upper Canada. He had knowledge through his Orange connections in Ireland of the numerous isolated Orange Lodges in Canada and soon after his arrival in Canada put that knowledge to use. Many Canadian Orangemen had long sought a central organization to give the Orange Association in Canada some political power. They realized that without a central governing authority that the Orange Lodges would remain ignored by the power brokers in Upper Canada.

Gowan now set about to do just that. He called a meeting of most of the Orange Lodges in Upper and Lower Canada to be held in the Brockville courthouse on January 1, 1830. The result of this meeting was the formation of the Grand Orange Lodge of British America, with Gowan being elected as Deputy Grand Master, the Grand Master’s position being reserved for the Duke of Cumberland. The Duke never assumed the title and for all intents and purposes Gowan filled the office from Canadian Orangeism’s official beginning as a Grand Lodge.

He first ran for politics in the Upper Canada election of 1830 in which he lost running as an independent. Gowan had angered many Orangemen and Tories by refusing to be the running mate of any of the local members of the Family Compact. To promote his political interests after his defeat he founded the "Brockville Sentinel" in 1830 which lasted just a few years. He also bought the "Brockville Gazette" and ran it for a short time before selling the paper to fellow Orangeman Arthur McClean.

Gowan feuded with the local Family Compact families, the Jones’ and Sherwoods who tended to look down their noses and Gowan and his Orangemen. Gowan didn’t care for his political base was the working class immigrant Irish Protestants who had been shut out of a voice in the Upper Canada Legislature. He was elected for Leeds County in both 1834 and 1835 but both elections were declared invalid because of allegations of violence and intimidation at the polls by his supporters. He was elected in the general election of 1836 which was called by the Lieutenant Governor Sir Francis Bond Head and that same year he founded the "Brockville Statesman".

During the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837 Gowan raised a volunteer company of militia, composed of Orangemen and named them the ‘Brockville Invincibles’. He was given a commission as a captain in the 2nd Regiment of Leeds militia and commanded a company of the Queens Own Rifles which he led during the capture of Hickory Island. He was commissioned a lieutenant-colonel and led his militia battalion at the Battle of the Windmill where he was wounded twice. Following the battle his battalion was given the title of ‘Queen’s Royal Borderers’ in recognition of their service.

During 1836 the news that the Orange Order in Ireland had dissolved and Governor Head stated that he hoped that Canadian Orange Lodges would follow their example. Pressure was put on Gowan but he refused to bend and the Canadian Grand Lodge continued uninterrupted. In 1839 Gowan wrote a pamphlet on responsible government and the government responded by removing him as an agent of crown lands in the Johnstown District. That same year in the Upper Canada Legislature he introduced a bill to divide the clergy reserves among all legally recognized denominations. There was tremendous opposition to both of these proposals from with the ranks of Canadian Orangemen.

During the Baldwin-LaFontaine Reform government of 1841 Gowan was stripped of his government appointments and lost his bid for re-election. He was elected again in 1844 and this time won great admiration for his skill as a parliamentarian and a debater. LaFontaine, who was no friend or admirer of Gowan, stated that "Gowan is the most accomplished speaker in the House."

During this time Gowan became a friend and confidante of John A. Macdonald who had joined the Orange Association in 1841 in Kingston, Ontario. It was Gowan’s influence that made Premier William Henry Draper offer Macdonald the post of Attorney General. Macdonald realized his debt to Gowan and wrote that : "We cannot expect to obtain his (Gowan) services and refuse the reward and highly as I appreciate his powers of benefiting us, I confess I fear his means of doing mischief more."

Gowan stepped down as Grand Master in 1846 and was succeeded by George Benjamin. He moved to Toronto in 1852 and bought the "Toronto Patriot" and was elected as a Toronto alderman in 1853 and 1854. In 1853 he challenged Benjamin’s leadership at the Kingston Grand Lodge sessions and set in motion a terrible division in Canadian Orange ranks. Gowan and Benjamin both set up rival Grand Lodges and for two years the split continued. Most Orange Lodges supported Gowan with just over one hundred of them in the Benjamin camp. The Benjamin Grand Lodge rehashed the charges against Gowan that were laid by George Perkins Bull over whether or not Gowan had ever been an Orangeman in Ireland. The split was healed in 1856 with Gowan stepping down and Benjamin also refusing to stand which left George Lyttleton Allen as the new Canadian Grand Master.

Gowan was re-elected to Parliament in 1858 following two defeats in the riding of Ontario North when he was victorious in North Leeds. He retired from politics in 1861 after serving twenty-seven years in the Legislature and on his retirement he was called "the father of the House". Gowan was the prime mover of the Imperial Grand Orange Council Meetings and had suggested as early as 1855 to the Earl of Enniskillen that there would be a great benefit for Orangeism if meetings were held at which Orangemen from all parts of the Empire were invited. He was Canada West’s first official delegate at the first meeting held in Belfast in 1867.

In 1859 Gowan published his most ambitious work on Orangeism. That year he published three volumes entitled "Orangeism, its origins and history". The fourth volume which dealt with Canadian Orangeism was never published and the manuscript was lost. Gowan had sent it to Mackenzie Bowell for proofreading and to make sure that there were no errors in it regarding the Canadian Orange schism during 1853 - 1855. It was apparently never returned and has never turned up.

Gowan, who had been the founder first lodge master of L.O.L. No. 1, Brockville, had transferred his membership to L.O.L. 137 when he moved to Toronto. Until his death on August 21, 1876 he continued to attend Grand Lodge meetings and was a mover of countless motions at them. He opposed the setting up of provincial grand lodges and continued to fight the idea for several years after it had become an accomplished fact in 1860.


Gordon Sydney Harrington was born at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on August 7, 1883. He studied law at Dalhousie University and graduated with an LL.B. degree in 1904 and was called to the bar of Nova Scotia in that year. He set up his law practice in Glace Bay and was created a K.C. in 1915. He served as the mayor of Glace Bay from 1913 - 1915.

Harrington served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force from 1914 - 1915 and was the Deputy Minister, Overseas Military Forces of Canada, in London, England from 1918 -1920. On his return to Canada in 1920 he again practiced law in Glace Bay and Sydney.

He was first elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly in 1925 as a Conservative in the riding of Cape Breton Centre and was again re-elected there in 1928. He served as Minister of Public Works and Mines from 1925 - 1930 in the government of Edgar Nelson Rhodes. He served as Premier of Nova Scotia from 1930 - 1933. Harrington’s government was defeated in 1933 although he was elected in the riding of Cape Breton South. He continued as leader of the opposition in the House of Assembly from 1933 - 1937. Gordon Harrington was a member of L.O.L. 1596, Glace Bay and died at Halifax on July 4, 1943.


William Charles Gwynne was born at Castleknock, Ireland in April, 1806. He graduated after eight years at Trinity College, Dublin, with a Bachelor of Medicine degree in 1831. He came to Canada in 1831 and settled in York, Upper Canada. He married Anne Powell, granddaughter of William Drummer Powell and by 1838 had become a member of the Medical Board of Upper Canada.

By 1839 he had become the Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of British America but seems to have left the Association sometime following that year after an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Ogle Gowan as Grand Master. Gwynne, although married into a very prominent Upper Canada family opposed the Family Compact in politics.

In 1842 Governor Sir Charles Bagot appointed Gwynne as professor of anatomy at King’s College, Toronto. He sat on the board of King’s College from 1843 and continually led the minority position on the board to the Church of England’s dominance in the day to day running of the college. When the college was reorganized as the University of Toronto in 1849 Gwynne remained as Professor of Anatomy. He returned to Britain in 1853 after the Hincks government abolished the university’s medical school but returned in 1856. After his return to Canada he shunned both politics and medicine. William Gwynne died on September 1, 1875/