George Turner Orton, who represents Centre Wellington in the House of Commons, is a son of Dr. Henry Orton, who came to Upper Canada from Leicestershire, England, and settled in Guelph in 1835, was County Coroner many years, and died at Fergus in 1869, and Mary nee Jerram, also a native of England; and was born in Guelph, January 19, 1837. His mother died at Nottingham, England, in 1858.
Our subject received a grammar school education at Guelph; studied German while with a private tutor at Berlin, County of Waterloo, Ontario; and for the medical profession at the College of Surgeons, Dublin, Ireland, and at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, where he was graduated M.D. in 1860. He was subsequently elected a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, England.
Dr. Orton practiced a short time in England, and at Ancaster, near Hamilton, with his brother, Dr. Henry Orton, and in August, 1861, settled in Fergus. Here he soon built up a remunerative practice, and has made a good reputation as a physician and surgeon, being one of the oldest men in practice here.
Doctor Orton was a Captain of a Volunteer company, formed soon after the Fenian Raid of 1866; is Surgeon of the 30th battalion “Wellington Rifles,” and was Councilman and then Reeve for three successive years.
He was appointed County Coroner in 1870, but never served; was an active promoter of the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway, which now passes through Fergus, also of the Credit Valley Road, which is being completed to Fergus.
Dr. Orton was an unsuccessful candidate for the House of Commons in 1872; was successful at generals election in 1874; unseated on petition and under protest November 3, 1874; re-elected on the 13th of December, 1874, and 17th of September, 1878. He is a Liberal Conservative and strongly favors reciprocity with the United States on an equitable basis. He takes great interest in agricultural matters; twice in the House of Commons, 1874 and 1876, moved for a Committee on the Agricultural interests of the Dominion, and was the most prominent advocate of agricultural protection, chiefly as a means of obtaining equitable reciprocity with foreign countries, his persistent agitation in favor of which, may have largely influenced the result of the general election of 1878, and the subsequent adoption of the Dominion National Policy. The Doctor is also interested in manufactures as a means of building up a larger home market for the agricultural products of Canada, his own town, as well as others, and the Dominion generally. In 1873 he organized a Brewing Company in Fergus, whose ales and porter are extensively used in Canada, under the firm name of Holland and Co., and he is still a member of the firm.
Some time ago the Doctor gave a popular course of lectures in Fergus, on chemistry, and he has also lectured, more or less, on physiology and the laws of health, thus aiding to educate the people on important subjects, pertaining to their mental and physical well being.
The wife of Dr. Orton was Ann Farmer, daughter of William Farmer, formerly of Sutton-Maddock, Shropshire, England, and for many years engaged in lumbering on the Gatineau River, in the Huron district; married in 1862. They have three children living, and have buried four.