Orangeville is known for wood sculptures and a welcoming community, but how did it begin? Named not for the fruit, but for Orange Lawrence (b.1796), an early investor in the community. The Connecticut-born entrepreneur settled in the Oakville area in 1823, then into the (now) Orangeville downtown. Orange commissioned the Grigg mill on the local stream – justly named Mill Creek, a part of the Credit river. A village then sprung from its success, and a new community was beginning to form; But Orange never got the chance to see the fruits of his labour, passing a few years before its official establishment in 1864.
On December 15th 1861 Orange hung himself in his home after he failed to be elected onto the North Wellington riding. His home still stands, currently being a perfectly normal occupied home except the historic plaque stating the tragic end of its former owner. Why would Orange be chosen to be the proud icon of a city with such a dark history? It can be seen as dark comedy to name a town after a man who failed to be elected into its own governance, and subsequently killed himself after. While it may seem an ill omen at first glance, we must remember his contemporaries. They believed Orange to be such a huge part of their community that it was his community. Instead of hide in shame of him and his act, they chose to commemorate him. Orangeville is a town of memory, and compassion.
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