Master of Arts (MA)
Faculty of Arts
Barry M. Gough
The Sentinel and Orange and Protestant Advocate was the organ of the Orange Order in Canada and spoke for the Lodge on a wide range of social and political issues. This thesis will examine the paper’s views on moral and religious questions and the major issues at the three levels of Canadian politics between 1877 and 1896.
The paper was published weekly in Toronto and distributed across North America, although the bulk of the circulation remained in Ontario. The Sentinel was published and edited by Edward Frederick Clarke, who also pursued a successful career at all three levels in Canadian politics and within the Order. The policy of the paper was to defend the Protestant religion and the Orange Order from criticism and the perceived aggression of its Roman Catholic opponents.
The Sentinel’s views on social questions were moderately conservative. The paper favoured voluntary temperance but rejected legislation as a solution to the alcohol question. The Sentinel was a strong proponent of the right of workers to organize trade unions and in this opinion different from most other newspapers of the day.
The Sentinel displayed a strong bias towards Toronto in dealing with municipal politics. The paper rarely endorsed candidates at the municipal level and only occasionally discussed the issues of city politics. When it did deal with municipal government the paper was generally moderate, rejecting the excesses of the Reform movement but urging effective measures to prevent corruption at city hall.
The Sentinel was faced with consistent failure in pressing its concerns at the provincial level in Ontario. The paper repeatedly attacked the policies of Liberal Premier Sir Oliver Mowat but met with no success in changing the pattern of Ontario’s politics, or in helping the Conservatives to replace Mowat’s Liberals. The paper’s strong support for the Conservatives was displayed most clearly in the dispute over liquor licensing but was to be found consistently in the Conservative camp. The Sentinel’s concerns at the provincial level were primarily sectarian and most notable among them was the failure of the Orange Lodge to gain incorporation and the complicated issues of separate schools. The paper advocated for the abolition of separate schools and urged that English be the language of instruction in all Ontario schools.
The Sentinel supported the Conservatives at the federal level in Canada. This support was apparent in the paper’s acceptance of the National Policy in all its facets. The Riel Rebellion of 1885 and the criticism directed at the Lodge in its aftermath hardened the paper’s attitude towards French Canada and set the stage for the sectarian disputes of the late 1880’s and the 1890’s. The Sentinel exercised a moderating influence on the Protestant movement in Canada in the crises surrounding the Jesuit Estates Act and the manitoba Schools question. In both cases the paper disagreed with the policy of government but refused to abandon the Conservatives for a new, all Protestant, party. Similarly, The Sentinel welcomed the appointment of Sir John Thompson as Prime Minister despite the fact that he was a Roman Catholic.
The Sentinel was a moderate, well written voice for the Orange Lodge in Canada. Between 1877 and 1896 the paper provided a concise summary of the Order’s views on the social and political issues of the day.
Thomson, Andrew, "The Sentinel and Orange and Protestant Advocate, 1877-1896: An Orange view of Canada" (1983). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). Paper 10.