Oro-Medonte was previously two neighbouring townships, brought together in 1994, under a restructuring of Simcoe County. It is divided into lines based on the concession system implemented by the British colonial government in the mid-1700s. Currently there are 15 lines that are now streets and highway exits off Highway 11.
First Nations had long established encampments and trails on the bank of Hawkestone Creek, Ridge Road and throughout the Township of Oro-Medonte. In the 1830s Richard Hodges established a landing for settlers, mainly from the British Isles, who after arriving by lake steamer, on Lake Simcoe, followed these trails to their settlement in search of independence and land ownership.
Craighurst started as a small community on the Penetanguishene Road in the 1830s. Its post office was established in the 1850s, at its peak in the late 1800s, Craighurst had 4 hotels, three churches, and a school house.
A thriving community of a tavern, hotel, store and the first post office was located near the lake east of the creek at Hodges' Landing. The first postmaster was Charles Bell. Two dams and 3 mills sawed logs and ground grains. It is thought that the first mill was established by John Williamson who subsequently built the large brick house on the North-East corner of the Ridge Road and Line #11 South. In 1856 a new wharf was constructed and the name was changed from Hodges' Landing to Hawkestone.
The establishment of Shanty Bay was strongly influenced by the Underground Railroad. Many African-American refugees first settled near the water in shanties (small homes), contributing toward the name of the village. Lucius Richard O'Brien (1832-1899), the noted Canadian oil and watercolour landscape painter was from Shanty Bay. His father founded the village. Shanty Bay also has one of Canada's oldest surviving churches, St. Thomas Anglican Church, built between 1838 and 1841 and dedicated in 1842.
In 1866-67 a drill-shed was erected by the Oro Company, 35th Battalion the Simcoe Foresters. At this time when the Fenian raids were alarming the country, eight company drill-sheds where built in Simcoe County, the county paying $390 and the government $250 for each. The company was manned by pioneer men of Oro, local Wm.E. O'Brien of Shanty Bay became Lieutenant Colonel of the Battalion in 1882. This building served Oro Company until the turn of the century and was dismantled around 1918.
During 1871 the railroad reached Hawkestone. An extensive "station" evolved with a freight shed, stockyards and a massive water tower to supply the requirements of the steam locomotives. Many types of products were shipped out and supplies shipped in. Another branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway was built through Craighurst in the early 1900s, opening from Bolton to Craighurst in November 1906, when a station was opened. On July 19, 1907 the track was extended to Bala and by June 1908, the line was completed to Sudbury. This is now part of the railway's main line between the east and west.
Edgar was the site of a cold war radar site from 1952 to 1964.
In 1959 the Ukrainian National Federation (UNF) purchased the "Pugsley Farm" property located on the East half of LOT 23 and Lot 24 in Hawkestone. The 200+ Acres were developed into a large Recreation Area and Children's Camp where Members of the UNF and their families have spent their summers on the shores of Lake Simcoe. A portion of the property was subdivided into 100 half acre lots, and sold to members of the UNF who built summer homes and cottages adjacent to the UNF. The entire property was named "Sokil", which is the Ukrainian word for "Hawk" in reference to the village of Hawkestone where the community was established. Today the private subdivision is maintained by the "Sokil Property Owners Association" (www.sokilvillage.com)which manages the non-municipal water system, roads and other related issues. The UNF still maintains the Recreation Area and Children's Camp, where three children's summer camps run throughout the summer, as well as weekend overnight camping area, seasonal cabin rentals and a seasonal trailer park. St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic chapel also conducts services each Sunday throughout the summer season.
The mayor and deputy mayor also represent the township at meetings of Simcoe County Council.
Bass Lake Provincial Park and the Copeland Forest Resources Management Area are located within the township. Two major ski resorts, Mount St. Louis-Moonstone and Hardwood Hills, are also located within Oro-Medonte.
The Lake Simcoe Regional Airport is located in the township near the community of Guthrie.