110 years in business for Lord Dufferin IODE

August 3, 2017   ·   0 Comments

Lord Dufferin IODE has a rich history of serving the community. Pictured above, representatives from the 110-year-old organization pose for a photo at the height of its annual geranium fundraiser, which raised funds for IODE’s student bursaries.

By Mike Pickford

What do the letters IODE mean to you?

On their own, with no knowledge of what exactly they represent, the likelihood is not a great deal. That’s the challenge a group of 20 local ladies face as they attempt to educate the public and generate interest in what is the oldest service club in the community.

The abbreviation stands for Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire. Here in Orangeville there are two chapters of the organization, the elder of which – Lord Dufferin IODE – has an incredible history intertwined with the very beginnings of this community.

“We started up in Orangeville back in 1907, a few years after the very first IODE was founded in Montreal,” said Dori Ebel, former President of the Lord Dufferin IODE and a lifetime member. “110 years this organization has stood; 110 years of history, 110 years of members, 110 of service and 110 years of friendship. That’s a truly remarkable feat.”

That places Lord Dufferin IODE ahead of such notable long-time service clubs as the Rotary Club of Orangeville (now 80) and the Orangeville Lions Club (68). It outdates even the Orangeville Royal Canadian Legion by almost 20 years and has even been around longer than our local hospital. Not by much, though – only a matter of a few years, in fact.

And that’s because the Lord Dufferin IODE was initially established with the sole goal of building Orangeville’s very first hospital. In the town of about 2,500 population, 53 women bandied together shortly after the turn of the century in an attempt to raise funds for the eventual construction of a health centre at the heart of the community.

“If you were to go back and do some research, I believe the story goes a little like this… A young person was shot in this area back in the early 1900s and, because there wasn’t a hospital in the area, he had to be transported over to Fergus, as that was the closest hospital at the time,” Ms. Ebel explains. “Sadly, he died. It sparked a bit of an uproar as people decided he may have survived if we had our own hospital. They believed if they could treat people here in Orangeville they could save lives, and so the journey began.”

It took them five years but, after raising well over $10,000, a site for the hospital on First Street was found and it opened as the Lord Dufferin Hospital. The initial building is long gone but over the years a series of additions saw it continue as Dufferin Area Hospital until finally it was replaced by Headwaters Health Care Centre, with the former hospital now serving as most of the Lord Dufferin Centre.

The Lord Dufferin IODE ensured the hospital was staffed and stocked with the necessary supplies and equipment. The organization ran the facility for close to 50 years before turning it over to the provincial government in 1953. Since then, the group has tackled numerous projects in the Orangeville area, more often than not with great success.

It was that story of the hospital that first drew Ms. Ebel to learn more about the IODE when she moved to Orangeville in 1994. After being introduced to the Lord Dufferin chapter by a friend and member at the time, she knew right away it was something she wanted to be involved in.

“I really liked the history. For 50 women to have the desire to come together that long ago to build a hospital… That’s unbelievable. I couldn’t even imagine doing something like that today,” Ms. Ebel said.

While fundraising, building and running a hospital isn’t at the forefront of Lord Dufferin IODE’s agenda nowadays, they still do an unbelievable amount of good in the community, says Dori. In 2016 the group, which today boasts 20 active members, logged just over 6,000 volunteer hours, helping out with such events as the Orangeville Rotary Ribfest, Christmas in the Park and St. Mark’s annual Christmas Dinner. The group also regularly hosts child ID clinics in collaboration with the Orangeville Police Service.

Time isn’t the only commodity Lord Dufferin IODE offers up with some regularity. The organization frequently dishes out large sums of money to different causes in the community. Ms. Ebel noted IODE will routinely help out Choices Youth Shelter and Family Transition Place in Orangeville, while the group also donates money to the Orangeville Food Bank and regularly purchases new equipment for Headwaters Health Care Centre. It runs an annual geranium fundraiser, with support from Orangeville Flowers & Greenhouses, which helps to fund bursaries for students pursuing post-secondary education.

With that particular initiative complete for another year, to great success according to Ms. Ebel, the chapter will be focusing on a new Beauty First campaign over the coming months. Designed to help women battling illnesses feel good about themselves in their own body, the project will encompass a wide variety of subjects.

“This whole Beauty First thing came about because we were talking about how devastating chemotherapy can be for women suffering with cancer – losing their hair and things like that. So we thought we could do something where we’re offering wigs, beautifications etc. to help make women feel good about themselves,” Ms. Ebel said. “We’ll be focusing our attention on that over the next little while.”

And while it may sound like it’s give, give, give with Lord Dufferin IODE, there is some take too according to Ms. Ebel.

“This is a sisterhood. I’ve made friends for life through IODE, it’s such a special organization,” Dori said. “Not only does IODE give women the opportunity to share their ideas and share their ideas, it gives them an opportunity to give back to their community and it gives them an opportunity to meet new people.”

The organization has generated some interest throughout the community over the past year, with a couple of new members jumping on board. With a fresh, new president in place too in the form of Linda McMahon, Dori says she’s excited about what Lord Dufferin IODE will be able to accomplish over the coming years.

“We have been getting some new members out recently, which is absolutely wonderful. That’s exactly what you need in a community service group like this; new people, fresh blood with fresh ideas,” Ms. Ebel said. “This community is a growing community and we have a lot of young women moving here – if you’re looking for something to do, if you’re looking to meet people come on out to one of our monthly meetings and see what we’re all about”

She added, “We’re not just here to be pretty faces, we’re here to reach out and do what we can for people. We’re here to support one another and to support our community.

Lord Dufferin IODE meets every fourth Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. in its conference room at the Lord Dufferin Centre. For more information on the organization, visit

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