Ogle Robert Cowan

Deputy Grand Master of the

Grand Lodge of British North America

Settler Robert Leighton arrived in 1848, also from Ireland, and it was on his property that the first Loyal Orange Lodge (LOL) No. 567 was established.  These lodges were part of Orange Order in Canada – an influential Protestant fraternal organization that had many prominent members throughout the 1800’s and early 1900’s.  The countryside of Ontario was littered with these lodges, some of them harbouring the kind of religious torment typical of the fractious relationship between the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. 

Prior to the arrival of the railway in the 1870’s, Brock township had a dozen or so small hamlets scattered about the countryside.  These hamlets were lively centres of trade, church and social gatherings for the rapidly expanding rural population that was settling in the township.  One such hamlet was Derryville – a vibrant little community located near what is now the intersection of the 11th Concession of Brock and Highway 12 – a few kilometres south and west of Cannington. Due to the large influx of settlers from the Emerald Isle, the hamlet was named after Londonderry, what is now the second largest city in Northern Ireland. 

In the 1830’s and 1840’s families came to settle around the 10th and 11th Concession and ‘Centre Road’ (so-called because it ran through the middle of Ontario County as far south as Whitby).  Scottish immigrant James McDougall opened a hotel in 1836, while TC Graham opened a store in 1848.  John Allin opened a blacksmith shop in 1858 while some of the original farmers like William Evert and Mathew, both from Ireland, came in 1853.  

Social life in Derryville revolved around the church, the lodge and the hotel – which closed its doors as a hotel when prohibition was passed.  All sorts of local functions occurred there, as well as Orange Lodge meetings.  Derryville LOL was one of the oldest in Ontario, originally started by Rev. Gowan, who was the son of Ogle R. Cowan who founded the Orange Lodge in Canada somewhere around Brockville. 

Harold King, as King William (of Orange) astride his horse 'Jerry' on parade in Cannington.

Derryville thrived.  Mr. Whiteside ran a bustling store and post office, Mr. Allan ran a prosperous Carriage and Agricultural Implement Factory, a second hotel opened up, a Methodist church, built of logs and by free labour, opened up in 1862 – later bricked in 1899 it stayed in business until 1966, 104 years of spiritual solace.  In 1897 Henry Ferron purchased the post office from John Allen, running it until he handed it off to his daughter Lizzie in in 1917.  She kept it going until her death in 1948 – 51 years of family business. 

Changes in transportation spelled the death of Derryville.  When the railway ended up in Cannington, many businesses and residents relocated there to take advantage of that new technology.  Radical changes to Highway 12 forced the removal of some buildings – and made it easier for locals to shop and worship elsewhere.  The lodge was used for a short while by the Junior Farmers, but was abandoned by them.  In 1986 the Cannington Historical Society arranged to have it moved to its current site.

Over the years since, the lodge has hosted many society meetings, special events and is also a place where displays on the local military, retail, cultural and medical history of the community reside.  

Typical of the times, the original lodge burned in 1867.  It was quickly rebuilt largely due to the efforts of William McMaster, who became the the first Master in the new lodge.  In 1894 the members raised money for a new banner to display in the lodge, and to carry in parades.  Money for the banner was raised at a concert – which speaks volumes about the social life of this tiny town.  Unfortunately, history would repeat itself on July 13th, 1933 when another fire destroyed this second lodge.  Undaunted, the members of the lodge rebuilt the building – which is now featured as part of the museum in McLeod park. 

Derryville Hall

Hall is relocated to the museum complex in 1986