L’Orignal was granted as part of the Seigneurie de Longueuil by the Company of New France to François Prévost in 1674 (seeSeigneurial System). The Seigneurie de Longueuil was one of only two seigneuries granted in the French regime in what is now Ontario (the other was René Robert Cavalier de La Salle's Fort Cataraqui, at present-day Kingston).
L'Orignal was acquired in 1796 by Nathaniel Tredwell, a wealthy American from Plattsburg, New York. In 1812, when Tredwell refused to swear allegiance to the British Crown, his property was confiscated and he fled to the United States. He returned in 1840, but meanwhile his son Charles had recovered it and sold it to some 100 settlers. The village was made capital of the new Ottawa district.
Preserved from its past are St Andrew's Presbyterian church (1832), which is an example of Regency architecture. The District Court House and Jail (built 1824-25) is the oldest remaining courthouse in Ontario. While the courthouse is still in use, the jail closed in 1998. L'Orignal is a French-speaking alcove in a predominately anglophone region.