An Archival Intern and the Loyal Orange Lodge

17 avril , 2024

By Hailey Swift

Hailey Swift is a graduating student in the History Department at Bishop’s University. She completed an archival internship with the Eastern Townships Resource Centre over the Winter 2024 semester. Here is what she had to say about her internship experience.

One virtue of using the archives as an intern is that I did not know what I was getting into. I had no prior knowledge of the Loyal Orange Lodge fonds, nor the existence of the Loyal Orange Order. My first encounter with the documents were the minute books, financial ledgers, and more.

I was not the first individual to work on the Loyal Orange Lodge fonds; it was already divided into seven series based on location and content. Series one to five contain information about branches of the Loyal Orange Lodge located in different areas of Quebec, and series six is an artefact series consisting of ribbons. The seventh series, branch #689 of the Ladies Orange Benevolent Association, also known as the Maple Leaf Lodge, already existed within the Loyal Orange Lodge fonds but no descriptions of the materials had yet been added.

With such a long-standing association, some of the documents are around 154 years old; the earliest establishment date of the materials in the fonds is May 1, 1890. Because I was dealing with such old documents, and due to the majority of them being handwritten in nature, I enjoyed looking at the handwriting and how it evolved from the 1800s into the late 1900s – even from one individual to another, depending on who took the minutes or was in charge of the ledgers. Working on this project, I greatly appreciated my middle school teacher who forced my classmates and me to learn cursive on our own time; she refused to accept printing.

One of my tasks involved evaluating documents based on whether they should be archived in the Loyal Orange Lodge fonds or not. This involved verifying documents for duplicates, seeing whether a document had to be transferred to another fonds, and appraising a document for its historical value. One of my most enjoyable moments came from this process; in the box was a loose paper containing a receipt for a piano that had no outward connection to the Loyal Orange Lodge. I took note of the receipt’s date, and dug through one of the financial ledgers until I found the same date. Sure enough, the ledger included a purchase made from the company listed on the receipt for a piano. I had successfully connected the piano receipt to L.O.B.A. #689! Because we had a record of the purchase in the financial ledger, however, the receipt itself was considered to have no historical value; regardless, I felt much satisfaction in my brief investigative episode.

It should come as no surprise, then, that my favourite task was writing the authority records for the different branches. Authority records describe the individual persons, families, and corporate bodies (including associations and organizations) who create the documents that are kept in the archives. Writing the authority records involved both combing through the documents in the ETRC Archives and scouring BAnQ’s online newspaper database for mentions of the specific lodges in newspapers. From this process I learned a variety of facts; the significance of July 12th, Orangemen’s Day, and the community fostered by the Battle of the Boyne, which took place in 1690, and that the Loyal Orange Lodge meetings were sometimes held around 7:30 p.m. before the full moon.

My time spent with the Loyal Orange Lodge fonds allowed me to improve my archival skills, and gave me an appreciation for researchers and individuals who search through multitudes of information to reveal gems from the past.

Crédit photo: : P020 Eastern Townships Heritage Foundation fonds
A band celebrates Orangemen’s Day (The Twelfth) atop a wagon pulled by horses, in 1930.
Crédit photo: : P166 Loyal Orange Lodge fonds
A certificate attesting to the incorporation of Loyal Orange Lodge #1308 (Sawyerville) in May 1890.
An Archival Intern and the Loyal Orange Lodge
17 avril , 2024
Jody Robinson