About Orono

Orono was founded in 1832 when Asa and Harriet Baldwin settled in a modest cabin built by Asa prior to his family’s arrival. 

The story goes that after a few hours getting acquainted with her new home Mrs. Baldwin decided to walk to the stream and get some water. Arriving at the stream, she dipped a pail of water in and to her amazement discovered two speckled trout in the pail. On her return to the cabin she said to her husband “Father, we have come to a land of milk and honey”.

How did Orono get its name? It was during the 1840s — before which the settlement was loosely called Jericho, Slab City and Bloomington, when one day the men in the village gathered at the Blacksmith shop to decide on a name. A travelling Methodist preacher, Mr. Beal, remarked how the lay of the land was not unlike his hometown of Orono, Maine. So, (as history reads) the name Orono was chosen. Orono, Maine, is named after Chief Joseph Orono of the Penobscot tribe.

Orono is the locale for some of the most enjoyable and popular annual events in Clarington. The daylong Annual Orono Antique Street Festival fills Main Street with antiques, vintage furniture, collectables and retro finds.  The Orono Fair hosted by the Orono Agricultural Society is held the first weekend after Labour Day every year. The three and half day fair draws nearly 30,000 annually to celebrate the area’s agricultural roots.  It features Equestrian events, Livestock shows, School and Children’s exhibits, Agricultural Education, Art Show Competition, Pie and Cake Auction, Woodworking, Cooking Demonstrations, Live Entertainment, Truck and Tractor Pulls, Demolition Derby and much more.  The Annual ‘More Than a Car Show’ held the third weekend in September at the Orono Fairgrounds is a family event featuring old and new cars and ‘More’.

At the centre of the village, residents and tourists enjoy the Sydney B. Rutherford Woods Walk Park, one of the many wooded areas in the village.  Orono Crown Lands at the west end of Station Street are walked daily by residents and geocachers alike.

Orono’s picturesque setting is the perfect backdrop for Movies and T.V. with credits including: 

Deranged (1974) filmed at 3926 Concession Rd.6,

The Dead Zone (1983), David Cronenberg, filmed in the Town Hall,

Wind at My Back (CBC, 1996-2001) filmed in downtown Orono

First Do No Harm (1997 – TV movie),  Jim Abrahams, starring Meryl Streep,

Dracula 2000 (2001), Patrick Lussier, starring Gerard Butler & Justine Waddell in the Town Hall

Schitt’s Creek (January 2015, Season 1, Episode 2, Orono Water Tower) 

11/16/63 (2016 – TV series), starring James Franco

Anne With an E (CBC series 2017), in the Town Hall

Polar (2019) Netflix film starring Mads Mikkelsen and Vanessa Hudgens

Famous People Orono

Mary Waddell, born in Orono, was the first woman appointed to the mathematics staff where she remained until 1947.   She entered Osgoode Hall in 1921 and was called to the Bar at Osgoode Hall in 1924; the only woman to be both a lawyer and a teacher in mathematics at the university.  Miss Waddell received a great honour when she became the first Canadian woman to join the American Mathematical Association. (p. 288-289)

Clarence Vinson was born in Orono.  As a pianist and composer, he is recognized for “The Three Graces”, “I Long for Home Sweet Home”, “Maplehurst Two-Step”, “Grand Master”, and “Invasion March”.   He was employed with the largest music company in the world, Enterprise Music Co. of New York and his “Invasion March” was played by all the leading bands of America. (p. 288)

Arthur Alexander Drummond was born in Toronto; however, he lived in Orono for 49 years.  In 1926 he became the manager of the local bank.  Mr. Drummond was a recognized painter belonging to the Canadian Society of Graphic Arts where he became a member of its Executive Council.  He is also listed in “Who’s Who in American Art” published by the American Federation of Art.  Some of Mr. Drummond’s paintings are now in England, Norway, Japan, Holland, Turkey, Australia, Africa, Bermuda, the United States and Canada.

Besides being recognized as a great painter, Mr. Drummond was a fine violinist.  For many years, he was first violinist with the General Motors Symphony in Oshawa and played violin in Andrew Knox’s local orchestra. (p. 284-285)

Francis (Frank) Knox attended Queen’s University at Kingston where he later became Professor of Economics.  His opinions on the nation’s economic matter were highly valued in federal government circles. (p. 285)

“Frank Knox, who taught continuously in the Department from 1924 to 1964, was a legend in his own time.  He was widely acknowledged as one of the great teachers at Queen’s.  . . . Knox served as editor of the Canadian Banker, the journal of the Canadian Bankers Association, from 1940 to 1957.  In it, he wrote a quarterly feature entitled “The March of Events”.  The latter was a thoughtful essay on monetary policy and the current state of the Canadian economy.  . . .  Perhaps Knox’s greatest contributions were made in the years immediately after World War II, when the university was overwhelmed by returning veterans.  As a veteran of WWI, Knox was able to relate to the problems faced by these veterans.  (QED Newsletter)

McElroy, D. Keith, MD attended the University of Toronto. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Chi medical fraternities, he became an instructor of surgery in the Canadian Army during WWII. He married Margery Noble in 1945. He was named honorary Police Surgeon in recognition of his ability to pinpoint the location, and perform the removal of bullets in police officers. In 1947, Dr. McElroy became a Fellow in Orthopaedics at Lahey Clinic in Boston. He invented the operation and instruments used in the Bilateral/Lateral Spinal Fusion, designed several operations to decrease disabilities in CP patients, and developed Injection Therapy. Dr. McElroy taught graduate and undergraduate classes for 40 years, and lectured extensively to Orthopaedic Societies worldwide, resulting in his archiving over 120,000 teaching slides on various medical subjects. He held honorary memberships in the Italian, Spanish, Turkish and Swiss Orthopaedic Associations, and was a member and executive officer of several American and Canadian Orthopaedic Medical Societies.   (Legacy)

Born and raised in Oshawa, Jim and his wife Sherri moved to Orono in 1968.

Jim states that as a pre-teen fishing trips with his Dad sparked his interest and fascination with all things wild.  He credits his family, friends and primary school teachers for supporting his interest, thereby enabling him to enlighten others.  For example, in the mid-1950’s Jim wrote field notes in the Oshawa Naturalists Club Newsletter, and his photography (birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and wildflowers, etc.) followed in the early 1960’s.  He wrote a column, “Stray Feathers”,  in Oshawa This Week newspaper for a while and a column in Orono Weekly Times for a few years.

Books published:

Tozer, Ronald G. and James M. Richards. 1974. Birds of the Oshawa-Lake Scugog Region, Ontario (383 pages; Alger Press) (includes Orono and all of Clarington)

Conrad, John and Jim Richards. 2007. Reflections of Our Village: Orono, The Village With a Difference (104 pages; Orono 175 Celebration Committee)

Richards, James M. and Anthony J. Gaston. 2018. Birds of Nunavut (2 vols., 810 pages; University of British Columbia Press)

Booklets and brochures published: Local

Richards, Jim. 2007. Visitor’s Guide: McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve, Oshawa Second Marsh and Darlington Provincial Park (74 pages; General Motors of Canada Ltd., Friends of Second Marsh, City of Oshawa, Union Rod & Gun Club)

Richards, Jim. 2007. Birds of the Orono Crown Lands (checklist of the Crown Lands and vicinity (8 panel brochure; Durham Land Stewardship Council, OPG Darlington, Armstrong IGA, Bragg’s Wild Bird Seed)

Bryan Bickell was raised in Orono and enjoyed baseball and hockey.  His ultimate choice was hockey.  After turning professional, he played for the Ontario Hockey League, the Americana Hockey League and as of 2007 the NHL.  Mr. Bickell played with the Blackhawks for 10 years during which he recorded the game-tying goal during Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final 2013.  He also played in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs which the Blackhawks won. 

Orono Community

Noteable Landmarks

The original building on this site was a wooden church built in 1845 being replaced by the Bible Christian Church in 1869.  In 1882 the Sunday school building was torn down.  In 1885 the Anglican parish bought the building and in 1869 the historic redbrick church was built by the Orono congregation.  St. Saviours Anglican Church continues today.  The church organ and a 1894 photo can be seen at the Sarah Jan Williams Heritage Centre in Bowmanville.



John Waddell helped to promote the flax industry and converted the old furniture factory, located behind 5360 Main Street, to a flax mill and built this warehouse in 1923. On August 15, 1923 the roof collapsed killing three and injuring many more. Roy Thornton had a miraculous escape; from a position at the extreme height of the peak he clasped a girder which he rode to safety. The building was rebuilt by October 1924. This is one of the last buildings illustrating Orono’s many industries in the 1900s. There were five mill ponds in the valley, including Orono Leigh Machine Works, Leigh Foundry, Thompson Tannery, Orono Creamery, Cheese and Cheese Box Factory and saw mills.

The Orono News operated from this location from 1885 to 1936 and was purchased by the Canadian Statesman in 1935. In 1937 Roy A. Forrester started the Orono Weekly Times at this location. It was carried on for many years by his son Roy. C. Forrester. It continues today, 83 years later. Other papers in the 1800’s were The Orono Sun, Canadian Visitor and Day Dawn.

Built in the 1850’s it is considered one of Orono’s first brick buildings. Also known as the “Standard Hotel” and “Kumrite Inn’. The building was originally twice as large as it is today and there was a balcony between the first and second floors. The building was also occupied by a branch of Morris Funeral Company in Bowmanville. A depiction of the original building can be viewed on a mural on the building on the south side of Centreview Street.
Now Terrens Wellness Centre.
Orono’s second town hall, the first was on the south side of Centreview Street, east of the former Mason’s Hall, built in 1857, destroyed by fire in 1898. This town hall opened in 1899, but the ceremonies were cut short by the fire bell sounding. The building contained meeting rooms, a jail cell and a theatre. In 1935 the clocktower was added, donated by Mrs. Nicolas Harris. The building was built in the late Victorian Style; however, the round-headed openings of the main floor entrance and windows show influence of the Romanesque Revival style popular in Canada during the 1890’s, especially for public and government buildings.
The only 19th century Fire Hall left in Clarington; it used to have a tower to dry hoses. The tower has been taken down. Today the building has been converted into the Fire Hall Bistro.
Built between 1919 and 1920 originally home to the Standard Bank, before becoming the Bank of Commerce and later CIBC. The Standard Bank first came to Orono in 1902, on Main Street where Terrens Wellness Centre is now. Bowmanville, Newcastle and even Newtonville had Standard Bank branches. The site originally had a house on it, built in 1853, but it was moved to Princess Street. It is now home to Soper Creek Yarn.
Built in 1882 for John Waddell and his wife. Waddell was the founder of the Orono Cheese Factory, Furniture Factory and co-owner of the North American Hotel. The house remained in the Waddell family until 1969, when it was purchased by the Township of Clarke Public Library Board. Clarke Museum & Archives occupied the upper floor between 1971 & 1980 before moving to Kirby.

Opened in 1951 replacing an earlier structure that was destroyed by fire in 1950. The previous church was brick and had been built in 1862. It replaced the original wooden Church of 1847. This property once had a cemetery, moved in 1885 as cattle were damaging the grave stones. The Church is modeled after ‘The Little Church Around the Corner’ in New York City. After 1950, relics were discovered in the previous cornerstone including a small 5 cent piece, 20 cent coin, 10 cent coin, large cent all dated 1862. A U.S. $1.00 gold piece, religious and Toronto newspapers, were all place in the cornerstone of this building in 1951 by Mrs. Henry Barraball. The stain glass windows at the front are from the 1862 church rescued by James Lowery.

The Church was sold in 2020 to Masjid Alwadood Orono Mosque.

A drill shed for the local militia was built on the area site in 1866. This was common during this era as Newcastle, Bowmanville and Kendal had drill sheds. The cornerstone of the armory was laid during the Orono Fair in 1913, with completion of the building the following year. The building was used until after World War II for both military and civilian functions. This is the only armory in Clarington. It was purchased by the Orono Police Trustees in 1954 and continued to serve as a meeting place for community groups. Since 1954 it has been occupied by hydro offices, a film company, museum storage and currently is home to the Orono Antique Market.

Walking/Cycling Tour

Downtown Orono has a hidden gem that quite a few aren’t aware of.  The Sydney B Rutherford Woods Walk Park is a gorgeous trail system directly behind the downtown area.  It has 4 entrances into the forested park; a north trail head at the Main and Mill Street entrance, another one further south on Main Street across from the old bank.  Another one at Station Street and a south trail entrance at the north end of Buttercup Hollow Park.  It was named after Sidney B Rutherford who was born November 5, 1916, and was known as a passionate educator.  After his death on Feb 15, 1992 his family and the community created this Woods Walk to honour his memory.  Sidney was known for his love of nature and is the reason behind the creation of the Park.  These trails are beautiful and peaceful with a calming effect that Sidney would appreciate.

If there is one thing that everyone knows about Orono it is our famous leaning water tower.  Yep it is still leaning and not fallen over yet.  It has appeared in Schitt’s Creek the TV show.  It has been photographed from every possible angle and is a popular subject conversation between Oronoites.

As the story goes,  the tower had been declared an historical structure years ago, but the town couldn’t afford to fix it. So, they can’t knock it down, and they can’t fix it up.

We will update this story when we here more about its history and when it was built/in use.

So if you are in Orono be sure to get a pic with one of Orono’s biggest attractions. 

At the end of the first World War, citizens of Orono decided to commemorate the end of war and remember those who died. In 1923, The Orono Community Memorial Park was built. Park founders raised funds for concerts, dances, street fairs and much more. Shortly after, two tennis courts, a swimming pool and a baseball diamond were constructed.  Improvements have continued over time and we have currently updated the park and splash pad area, the tennis courts and have included a pickleball court.
The original cemetery was located at the north end of Church street with earliest burial in 1844.  The new cemetery located at the north end of Mill Lane had the first burial, Mrs. Richard Ruddock, in March of 1880.
The Orono Crown Lands occupy 633 acres of the former Ontario Tree Nursery. Fifteen km of well marked and maintained nature trails meander through a varied habitat of mature evergreen and deciduous hardwood forests. Many trails are easy walking, with benches and a large picnic area west of the Ochonski Rd. entrance. Wilmot Creek, one of Ontario’s best cold-water creeks, runs through the property. A spawning run of rainbow trout occurs in mid-April with a salmon run in late August.Activities include walking, hiking, bicycling, fishing, dog walking, as well as cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. There are no admission or parking fees and free trail maps are available. Please consider submitting a membership form or donating through the donation stations at our parking lots.

This memorial was constructed on November 10, 1957, in memory of First and Second World War veterans.  The site was later re-landscaped by the Orono Horticultural Society and Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 178, of Bowmanville, Ontario.