One of the earliest settlers identified is John Corbit who acquired land in the Brown’s Farm area in 1829. Here Spring Brook, a tributary of the Credit River, provided water for these settlers and power for several mills located downstream.
In 1833 Seneca Ketchum bought 200 acres on the north side of what would become Broadway, creating a settlement on Purple Hill. Four years later George Grigg bought 100 acres on the south side and by 1844, when Orange Lawrence and his wife, Sarah, arrived from Connecticut, a well-established community called Grigg’s Mill had taken root beside Mill Creek.
Orange Lawrence was just the type of settler this developing community needed – an entrepreneur! On his arrival he bought 300 acres. He laid out the southeast part of town, bought Grigg’s Mill, opened a general store and a tavern, and built a second mill. He also founded the first school in Orangeville, and it was he who became the village’s first postmaster in 1847. So strong was the mark he left on this community that everyone agreed Orangeville was a most appropriate name.
In 1868 the Toronto, Grey, & Bruce Railway (TG&B) proposed a narrow gauge line that would run from Toronto to Owen Sound. This line would pass through Orangeville, which by then had become the most important town along this route. In April 1871 the first train arrived in Orangeville. Orangeville was the divisional point on the main line as well as the starting point for several branch lines to places such as Fergus, Elora, and Mount Forest.
Within six months of the railway’s opening, Orangeville was shipping out as many as 16 loads of grain a day as well as timber, lumber, and fence rails. Its grain warehouses sometimes stored as much as a 100,000 bushels of wheat. The 1871 census tells us that the population had risen to approximately 1400, doubling in less than ten years.
The year 1875 saw the construction of the Town Hall, a clear measure of the kind of growth the town was experiencing and in 1881 the population had doubled once again. At the same time as the business centre flourished, so too did the residential areas. Housing was needed for the many newcomers and for the railway workers who were moving to Orangeville as railway service expanded.
By the end of the century, 40 of the early buildings on Broadway that can still be seen today had been constructed. The architecture varied though much of it was based on the Italianate style. At this time, however, the town’s development began to slow down. There are several reasons for this reduction in the population. By the end of the nineteenth century there was very little crown land left in Dufferin County and the children of these early settlers had to move away if they wanted to continue to farming.
In recent years, Orangeville has experienced enormous growth and regeneration. Today the population is approximately 28,900. Much of this growth is as a result of the town being a bedroom community for the greater Toronto area.
Take a stroll along Broadway, where much of Orangeville’s early history can still be seen today. The charming boutiques, unique galleries and specialty shops will delight you and it won’t take long before you are tempted by the aromas of fresh bread baking, soups simmering, and chefs’ creations being prepared to perfection.
Wander the streets and marvel at the creative Art Walk of Tree Sculptures. The Town of Orangeville has turned the streets into a public gallery of art by transforming trees that have come to the end of their life cycle into beautiful and unique displays of art.
Sit back and relax in the plush red seats of the historic Opera House as you are taken on a theatrical journey by Theatre Orangeville. Since its inception in 1994, Theatre Orangeville has had some of the best professional theatrical artists from all over Canada perform on stage.
With four seasons of activities, Island Lake is the perfect destination for renting a canoe or kayak during the warmer months and when the weather becomes cooler, ice fishing , skating, snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing are popular.
Public Elementary Institutions:
- Credit Meadows Elementary School
- Island Lake Public School
- Mono-Amaranth Public School
- Montgomery Village Public School
- Parkinson Centennial Public School
- Princess Elizabeth Public School
- Princess Margaret Public School
- Spencer Avenue Elementary School
Public Secondary Institutions:
- Westside Secondary School
- Orangeville District Secondary School
Catholic Elementary Institutions:
- St. Andrew’s Elementary School
- St. Benedict’s Elementary School
- St. Peter’s Elementary School
Catholic Secondary Institutions:
- Robert F Hall Secondary School (Caledon)
- Headwater Hills Montessori School
- Dufferin Area Christian School
- Hillcrest Private School
- The Maples Academy
- Orangeville Christian School
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