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The History and Development of Freemasonry in Canada

The History and Development of Freemasonry in Canada

by Myron LUSK

A paper prepared for a school of instruction

at the Masonic Spring Workshop, Banff, 1974.

Canada is an amalgam of people from widely diverse backgrounds and

cultures. They have blended together, not always harmoniously, to

form a great nation in spite of, or perhaps because of, their

divergent customs and heritages. The mixture has resulted in a

strong resilient alloy.

So to our Masonic history in Canada has many avenues of origin. It

to travelled and coursed through time and trials to triumph in the

Grand purpose of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. Only such a

noble and Mystic tie could have brought our craft to the orderly

systems which we now enjoy today, through and from the scattered

allegiances of yesteryear.

To cover the entire subject of Masonic History in Canada in detail

would be a monumental task. To attempt to do so in the confines of

this paper would be a travesty. However, I will endeavour to give a

general chronical of our beginnings, which might help us to

appreciate the intricacy of the whole story.

"Learning originated in the East and thence spread it's influence

to the West ". That familiar phrase, generally speaking, describes

the general direction of progress of Freemasonry in Canada, along

with the movement of the Military, Police, Railway, Commerce and

other pioneer organizations and individuals.

The "East" encompasses a wide spectrum. Our derivations are

multiple England ( Modern ), England ( Antients ), Scotland,

Ireland, France, and appendages of those in Massachusetts, Vermont,

New York, Minnesota, etc. Later there was influence from Australia,

and that is a very long way East isn't it ?

All of this points to one obvious result, there were and still are

many "workings" or "rites" put into use across our land. To further

complicate that complexity, the Grand Lodge of Scotland, at that

time had not adopted a standard 'ritual'. A Lodge under it's

jurisdiction could practise any recognized work it wished,

providing it was not inconsistent with Freemasonry. We will find

reports of the application of this flexibility put to good use,

later in this history.

With the loose alliances and poor communications of the day, the

visitations of Masters and Past Masters of various Rites and

workings, to some degree, further adulterated those endeavouring to

maintain some degree of consistency. In reading the communications

of the Grand Lodge of Canada West, I encountered frequent mention

of inconsistency in the work. Following are some extractions from


Hamiltan, June 1848 ... " Resolved - that the R.W, Provincial Grand

Master do elect some well skilled Master or Past Master of a Lodge

from time to time, who shall have power and authority as a district

lecturer, ( with power to summons Masters and Wardens of Lodges in

his district ), to proceed to and visit Lodges in his district in

which he may reside and instruct them accordingly, and such

appointment to remain valid until a Grand Lecturer be appointed:

the said District lecturer to receive no salary from the funds of

the Provincial Grand Lodge ".

Cobourg, June 1849 ... " Resolved - that a committee of five be

appointed for the purpose of establishing a uniform mode of

working. This committee was to report at the half yearly

communication in November next ".

Toronto, November 1849 ... " Direction was made to the Board of

General Purposes to enquire why the committee on a uniform mode of

working had not reported ".

Sounds familiar doesn't it Brethren ? Uniformity of human nature


This problem was not peculiar to Canada. One has only to study the

history and formation of the United Grand Lodge of England to

verify that. The creation and story of the Emulation Lodge of

Improvement or the Lodge of reconciliation would be more than

enough material for a paper. I am hard pressed to cover my subject

without delving into English History.

Examination of the June 1850 Communications, indicates the temper

of the time and suggests that attentions were probably fixed on the

matter, one united, autonomous Grand Lodge in Upper Canada.

Although there were some quarters of fealty to the mother Grand

Lodge in England, a large segment demonstrating open discontent.

This undoubtedly was felt to be the first prerequisite to

establishing such specifics as uniformity in the work.

The interesting subject of the many workings or rituals practised

in the various Canadian jurisdictions will be covered later in this

writing. But first things first. Let us trace our beginnings in


Ancient Freemasonry has it's "Regis Manuscript" and Canada has it's

own link with antiquity. I refer to the "Masonic Stone" or "Nova

Scotia Stone". This piece of trap rock about two and one half feet

long and two feet wide, bears the inscription of the square and

compasses, and the date 1606. It is of indigenous rock of the kind

forming the substratum of Granville Mountain. This slab was found

on the shore of Goat Island in Annapolis Basin in Nova Scotia.

Conjecture is, that it may have been the gravestone of one of the

early settlers as it was found near the burial ground shown on

Champlains map of the settlement and it is known that at least one

of the colonists died in the year 1606. Champl ain made a record of

his death as 14 November, 1606.

This valuable historic artefact was donated to the Canadian

Institute of Toronto to be set in the wall of their new building,

which was under construction. Pictures of the stone were taken and

an entry record of it's receipt made in the minutes of the

institute. It was fortunate that was done, for the plasterer

stupidly covered the entire wall with plaster, and even the spot

cannot be traced. If the entire building should ever be torn down,

it is hoped that a diligent and careful search will be made for thi

s Masonic treasure.

I have found that the saying, "No one has done more to change the

course of history than the historians", holds true for Masonic

history as well. Much speculation regarding when and where the

first Lodges met can be found, but no evidence is available to

support it. Even the most reliable sources vary in the dates they

profer on the same subject. I have, therefore, cross - referenced

incidents reported by various authors and offer you what I consider

to be the closest to reality.

It is fitting that the first Masonic Lodge of record should appear

in the locality where the "Nove Scotia" stone was discovered. There

are claims that as early as 1721, there was a Masonic Lodge in

existence in Annapolis Royal.

Erasmus James PHILLIPPS was made a Mason in Boston in 1737 and

returned to Annapolis Royal in 1738 to establish what is considered

to be the first Lodge in Canada, under charter from Massechusetts.

It is certainly conceivable that there were Military Lodges in

existence before 1738, but we can use this date as 'provable'


Moving East to West, let us set the pattern of dates for the

earliest authenticated charters of Masonic Lodges.

Newfoundland received her initial charter from Massechusetts in

1746, Prince Edward Island from the Provincial Grand Lodge at

Halifax in 1797, Nova Scotia as I have already stated, from

Massechusetts in 1738, New Bruinswick from Halifax in 1789, Quebec

and Military Lodges meeting there after the seige and capture of

that Citadel in 1759, but there is no record of the Grand Lodge of

England issuing Warrants to Quebec before 1762.

Worthy of mention at this time is the fact that there were six

Lodges warranted by the Grand Lodge of Boston during the american

expedition against Canada, ( 1756 - 1759 ) which occurred in this

territory, Ontario traces her Masonic birthplace to the Niagara

area to what is now Fort Niagara is the United States. A military

Lodge of the 8th Kings Regiment of Foot, met and worked there

regularly from 1773 - 1785, drawing members from both sides of the

river. Manitoba obtained it's first charter from Minnesota in

1863, Saskatchewan from the Grand Lodge in Canada in Ontario on

1879, Alberta from Manitoba in 1882, and British Columbia from the

Grand Lodge of England in 1859.

These original dispensations are cited for historical precedence

only, as in most Provinces, the primary Grand Lodge issuing the

warrant did not remain the governing body for long, as both civil

and military migrations and growth, contributed to change as well

as the eventual formation of Independent Grand Lodges.

Now let us make a brief historical progress report on each

Provincial jurisdiction and relate the 'workings' or 'rituals'

practised therein. Research indicates that what we now use,

originated from Irish, English, Scottish and American Lodges. The

English emulation became the most prevelant and eventually assumed

the title, "Canadian Rite". It would seem that the ancient "York

Rite" reached us directly from the sponsorship of American

jurisdictions and Lodges which were warranted during the

'expedition agai nst Canada'.


The original Lodges, warranted from Massachussetts, ceased to exist

by 1832. But the craft was revived in 1848 under dispensation from

the Provincial Grand Master in Nova Scotia. Then they made direct

petition to the Grand Lodge of England, and were granted a charter

for St. John's Lodge # 579 dated 05 June 1850. It is still working.

District Grand Lodge was created in 1870 and celebrated it's

centennial in 1970. The Grand Lodge of Scotland chartered Lodge

Tasker # 454, in 1856 and celebrated their centenni al in 1966. To

this day, Newfoundland supports two District Grand Lodges that of

the United Grand Lodge of England and the Grand Lodge of Scotland.

All but two of the English Constituted Lodges now practise the

'emulation', or 'Canadian' work the others employing 'ancient

york'. The Scottish Lodges now practise the standard ritual of

'Scottish Freemasonry', but formerly used the 'Duncan' which was

written, but passed by word of mouth only. The harmony which exists

between the two governing bodies is exemplary, and inspires mutual

co-operation, in many beneficient ventures.


The Island, at that time named St. John, received her first warrant

from Halifax, on October 9, 1797 for St. John Lodge # 26. This

remained the solitary Lodge until 1827. In 1859, Victoria Lodge was

warranted by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. When Nova Scotia formed

it's own Grand Lodge in 1869, Prince Edward Island applied to

England and was made a district to that body, and appointment of a

Provincial Grand Master was made in 1870.

One Scottish Lodge continued in Charletown. Then in 1873, having

observed the successful formation of Grand Lodges in other

jurisdictions, and having entered Confederation, Prince Edward

Island decided to do the same. Their own Grand Lodge came into

fruitition in 1875.

They first decided to adopt the working of the New Brunswick Grand

Lodge, based on the Massachusetts ritual. This was not excercised,

and the Lodges continued the use of the 'Webb' work, published in

New York. One Lodge implemented the 'look to the east' ritual

which was almost the same the former being ciphered, the latter

being completely written out. Later the Nova Scotia work was

recommended by the Board of General purposes and adopted. However,

objection from some Lodges resulted in yet another change of

opinion, and Grand Lodge reinstated the old work, but allowed

Lodges the perogative to practise the Nova Scotia work under

dispensation from the Grand Master. Therefore, there are two

'versions' of the Ancient York work employed in Prince Edward



After the founding of the first Lodge in Canada, in 1738 in

Annapolis Royal by Erasmus James PHILLIPPS, who was made Provincial

Grand Master, by warrant from Massachusetts, the Antient Grand

Lodge of England chartered Lodges in Halifax and established a

Provincial Grand Lodge in 1757. St. Andrews Lodge has met

continuously from 19 July 1750. Then the Grand Lodge of Scotland

chartered Thistle Lodge ( now Keith # 17 ) in 1827 and later a

Provincial Grand Lodge.

The Scottish Lodges in turn gave birth to the Grand Lodge of Nova

Scotia in 1866, which was ultimately joined by the English Lodges

in 1869.

One Lodge retained it's allegiance to the United Grand Lodge of


It should be mentioned here that Cape Breton Island was set off as

a seperate Province in 1785, and that it's first Lodge was formed

in Sidney in 1786. In 1820 the Island gave up it's seperate

political and Masonic existences and merged with Nova Scotia.

The work in Nova Scotia is predominantly 'Ancient York', with a

small majority practising 'English' or 'Canadian' work. It is

interesting to read a report of the Grand Lodge proceedings:

"The ancient York work was exemplified and this rite 'as practised

in the state of New York' was adopted, with permission to two

particular Lodges 'working the rituals of the Grand Lodge of

England and Canada' to continue to do so ".

Here I would like to make reference to the incredibly redundant

title assumed by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia at this

time - it was called the " Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most

Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons in

the Province of Nova Scotia, in North America,and the Masonic

Jurisdiction thereto belonging". !!!!!!!! Small wonder that Prince

Edward Island turned elsewhere. !!


Unlike Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick remained under the

Provincial Grand Lodge of Halifax when she became a seperate colony

in 1874.

There had been numerous Military Lodges there, but most were

disbanded in 1783 with the departure of the Loyalist Provincial

Regiments. Their first warrant from Halifax dated 1789 ( although I

found one writer quoting the date of 1784 ), for Hiram Lodge.

The present Grand Lodge was instituted in 1867 and it adopted the

Massachusettes or Ancient York ritual, similar to Nova Scotia and

Prince Edward Island.


Here we must bend the rules a little to establish the early history

to accomodate the 'travelling warrants', of the Military Lodges.

The Grand Lodge of Ireland first issued them in 1737, and England

followed their example several years later. There is no telling how

early the first military Masons opened thier first Lodge in Quebec,

or for that matter anywhere in Canada. But we are still aware of

their presence and their valuable contribution to freemasonry's


The Grand Lodge in Boston issued warrants for Lodges during the

'expedition against Canada' - 1756 - 1758, and there were six new

Lodges contributed as a result.

About the same time the Grand Lodge of Scotland appointed Colonel

YOUNG of the 60th Regiment as Provincial Grand Master of America. A

Provincial Grand Lodge was established in 1759, subsequent to the

conquest at Quebec under the authority of the Grand Lodge of


Eight Lodges with 'field warrants' ( Five Irish, One scottish, Two

english ) celebrated the St. John festival in December, where

Lieutenant Guinnett of the 47th Regiment was elected Provincial

Grand Master and was succeeded by Colonel Simon FRASER, of the 78th

Regiment the following year. Then in 1822 it's jurisdiction was

divided into two Provincial Grand Lodges one for the District of

Quebec and Three Rivers, the other for the District of Montreal,

and William Henry. It is claimed by one writer, R.J. MEEL SREN,

that the 'emulation' working was introduced to Canada by the latter

body. These two Grand institutions continued until 1855, when the

Grand Lodge of Canada was formed.

The present Grand Lodge of Quebec was established in 1869. They

adopted a revised version of the 'emulation' or 'Canadian' work

from the Grand Lodge of Canada in 1874.

Scottish Lodges joining the Grand Lodge of Quebec in 1881 were

permitted to retain their Scottish working.

Several Lodges in Montreal work in the french language, and one

preserves some elements found in the 'french' rituals. Some Lodges

bordering the United States exemplify the 'Ancient York' work. The

widest use however, is the 'emulation' or 'Canadian' Work.


As mentioned earlier, the Military Lodge at Fort Niagara was the

predecessor of all others in Ontario. It is difficult to

differentiate between early Ontario and Quebec, geographically,

until they became 'upper' and 'lower' Canada in 1792.

Then the Grand Lodge of England appointed Captain William JARVIS as

'substitute Grand Master'. Very poor records are kept of this era,

but apparently St. John's Lodge was renamed St. John's Lodge of

Friendship # 2. There is no record beyond 1810 of this Lodge.

Following the American revolution in 1793, Colonel Simcoe moved his

troops from Newark ( now Niagara - on - the - lake ) to York, ( now

Toronto ), where Rawdon Lodge has been set up in 1790. In 1797

JARVIS moved the seat of the Provincial Grand Lodge to York. This

angered the brethren in Newark, and they formed a rival Grand Lodge

of Niagara, and so informed JARVIS. They operated as an authorized

Grand Lodge even to the extent of forwarding reports and fees to


The war of 1812 - 1814 further debilitated Freemasonry in Ontario,

and when Grand Master JARVIS died in 1817, and the 'Morgan affair'

followed, Masonry indeed had fallen on hard times.

During the period of 1812, Simon MacGILLIVARY was appointed Grand

Master, and although he did not devote his whole attention to the

task he at least kept the Craft in operation until his death in


Revival under the third Grand Lodge began under Ziba PHILLIPS.

Simoulteaneously, in 1842, Sir Alan McNAB was appointed Provincial

Grand Master by the Grand Lodge of Scotland, which he announced

after St. Andrews Lodge petitioned to the Grand Lodge of England,

in 1845, to appoint Thomas Gibbs RIDOUT as Provincial Grand Master.

This was successful and it is astonishing to learn that he was

first appointed Grand Master when he was a Fellowcraft !!!

RIDOUT did not fulfill his duties, and he was absent from many

meetings. This unfortunate situation coupled with the seeming

indifferent attitude adopted by the Grand Lodge of England, and the

urging of Lodges under the Grand Lodge of Ireland, which also

functioned at the time, moved the Brethren to take steps to

incorporate an independent Grand Lodge.

Finally at a meeting in Hamilton on 10 October, 1855, forty-one

Lodges from as far East as Montreal and West as Windsor, sent

delegates. They voted forty to one to form a Grand Lodge of Canada,

and elected Grand Master William Mercer WILSON.

Acceptance of this new Grand Lodge was not immediate by other Grand

Lodges. However, in 1857 the Provincial Grand Lodge met for the

last time, then in 1858 McNABB's Ancient Grand Lodge dissolved and

threw in with the Grand Lodge of Canada. Not all Lodges affiliated

with the new organization. In fact there was even another Grand

Lodge af Ontario formed for a short time, about 20 years later.

Thus the first Grand Lodge at various times passed through the

following titles:

Provincial Grand Lodge Provincial Grand Lodge of Canada West

Ancient Grand Lodge of Canada Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted

Masons of Canada.

Mercifully in 1867, the name "Grand Lodge of Canada in the

Province of Ontario" was adapted, following Confederation, and has

been perpetuated.

The simple title "Grand Lodge of Ontario" was not available for

their use because another 'clandestine' group had registered that

title as their own.

The 'emulation or Canadian' ritual is almost exclusively practised

in Ontario with notable exceptions in London using the Irish work.


At Churchill, on Hudsons Bay, stand the ruins of Fort Prince of

Wales, built by the Hudsons Bay company, about 1733 - 1740. Built

into the fortress is a massive block of stone on which can still be

seen the distinctive individual mark of the Operative Mason who cut

the stone. More than that we know nothing of whether he or they

were speculative or operative, but there is much interesting to

tell of what we do know. Surprising as it may seem to many. Masonry

in Manitoba received it's first dispensation from Minnesota on 20

May 1864, to meet at the Red River settlement. It was named

Northern Light Lodge and emerged from Hatch's Independent Battalion

af Cavalry, Minnesota Volunteers, a unit organized for the express

purpose of securing the Sioux Indians, who had been in revolt in

1862 - 1863.

They had been ordered to the border at Pembina in Dakota Territory.

One Lieutenant MIX rode to the Red River settlement to enlist the

services of the Govenor of the settlement in the connection with

the pursuit of a band of Sioux Indians by the U.S. Cavalry into

Canadian territory. There was apparently fraternal conversation as

well, for later a news item in the 'nor'wester' relates details of

a party from the settlement journeying to Pembina to join the

Masonic Lodge there.

Masons from the ranks, under the leadership of C.W. NASH, who

became Worshipful Master secured a dispensation from the Grand

Lodge of Minnesota to form Northern Light Lodge at Pembina. It was

accomplished and the inaugural meeting was held in January of

1864. From letters written by the Worshipful Master, we know it

was the desire of the Lodge as well as the interested parties at

Fort Garry to become members of the Craft. Unfortunately five

months later, in May, the soldiers were moved to Fort

Ambercrombie, and all the papers, records, petitions, and

documents along with the dispensation were returned to the Grand

Lodge of Minnesota. This did not end the matter however, because

three Canadian brethren who had been active in the Military Lodge

arranged for five more Canadians to journey to Pembina to receive

their degrees before the exodus of the Lodge it appears that they

received their three degrees, at this one meeting, which was not

uncommon in those days. These faithful brethren wishing to e nsure

the endu ring practise of Freemasonry in the West made petition to

Minnesota, and their dispensation was granted 20 May 1864. It was

named Northern Light Lodge and met at Red River settlement, in a

room above the store of A.G.B. BANNATYNE. The inaugural meeting of

the Lodge was held on Thursday 08 November, 1864 and John SCHULTZ

was elected Worshipful Master, Andrew G.B. BANNATYNE senior

Warden, and William INKSTER Junior Warden. This marked the first

regular meeting of a Masonic Ladge in the Canadian North west.

Trouble developed in the settlement over the transfer of t he

Territory and labour seems to have been suspended at the end of

1867. But Masonry had been introduced to the West.

With the passage of the Rupert's Land Act in 1868, great unrest

prevailed and saw the seizure of Fort Garry by RIEL and the

eventual re-establishment of constituted authority by Lord

WOLSELEY's expedition. Among WOLSELEY's troops were several Masons

who decided to remain in the west when the force was dispersed.

They organized 'Winnipeg Lodge' under dispensation, first meeting

on 10 December, 1870, and later changed the name to "Prince

Rupert's Lodge," receiving their charter under that name from the

Grand Lodge of Canada numbered 240 on that Grand Register. The

Worshipful Master was R. Stewart PATTERSON, Chaplain to the forces

Senior Warden - Lieutenant William N. KENNEDY, and Junior Warden -

Sergeant Major Mathew COYNE.

Freemasonry flourished and saw the formation of Grand Lodge of

Manitoba, 12 May 1875. William C. CLARK was elected Grand Master

and William N. KENNEDY was elected Deputy Grand Master. This was

done with only three Lodges in the jurisdiction, constituting less

than 200 Masons. But this meagre commencement was to be of

tremendous importance to the west as we shall see. Growth was not

immediate because of the great expanses, transportation, and

communications difficulties, and sparse population in the new fron


At one point in 1878, there was a temporary setback because of a

schism. A rival Grand Lodge challenged for recognition because of

Ritual differences, but the problem was resolved.

The enormous influence that the Grand Lodge of Manitoba had on

Freemasonry's progress in the west is undeniable. Their

jurisdiction at that time extended over the district of Alberta.

Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon Territories.

'American' or Ancient York ritual came up with the U.S. Cavalry and

later with the newcomers from the Maritimes. The 'English' or

'Canadian' work with the British soldiers of WOLESLEY's expedition,

and migrants from Quebec and Ontario. The rift which occurred

because of these ritual differences was overcome, so today both of

these workings are recognized by the Grand Lodge of Manitoba and

practised in her Lodges.


The schism which existed between these two rival Grand Lodges in

Manitoba pre-empted Saskatchewan to seek her first dispensation

from the Grand Lodge of Canada in Ontario. A group of dedicated

Masons met in the Hudson's Bay store at Prince Aibert on 28 March

1879 to discuss forming a Masonic Lodge. The first meeting of

Kinisto Lodge was held on 08 October 1879 and it was warranted 14

July 1880.

Manitoba settled the schismatic problem experienced there and in

1882 transferred all allegiance from the Grand Lodge of Canada in

Ontario, made to the Grand Lodge of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Having observed the forming of a Grand Lodge in Alberta in 1905 and

with the added impetus of the establishment of Saskatchewan and

Alberta as Provinces, Saskatchewan Masons held a meeting at Prince

Albert on 25 May 1905, where they decided it was advisable to

create a Grand Lodge of Saskatchewan which became a reality at a

convention in Regina 03 August 1906.

The enthusiasm of our forefathers was admirable. The following is

an exerpt from the report of the Grand Master of Manitoba on a

visit to Qu'appele Valley Lodge in 1891. "I witnessed the

conferring of a first degree in a most impressive manner.

The candidate, a rancher, has ridden 62 miles on horseback to be

present. He had to leave for home immediately after being

initiated. He thus undertook a journey, by saddle horse, of one

hundred and twenty four miles to receive his first degree. We

should remember and learn.

Saskatchewan has almost total uniformity in 'Canadian' rite work in

their Lodges, with the exception of Two, which practise the

'Ancient York' rite with the sanction of the Grand Lodge of



The peaks and valleys of the Pacific Coastal Range and the waves of

the Pacific ocean symbolize the pattern of the early days of

Freemasonry's history in B.C. Our brethren there encountered a

multiplicity of problems. The indomitable spirit of these fellows

carried them through.

From a meeting in a store in Victoria, a petition was forwarded to

the Grand Lodge of England on 12 July 1858 which resulted in the

return of a warrant which arrived 14 March 1860. The dedication of

Victoria Lodge took place in August of that year under the

direction of Robert BURNABY. The first Worshipful Master was Joseph


In 1862 Union Lodge was formed in New Westminster then the Capital

of the mainland colony of B.C. It began with the 'English' work,

but in 1877 the Lodge voted to adopt the Scottish work. The

newcomers to the colonies of Vancouver Island and B.C. from

California who had been attracted by the gold rush and coal

discoveries, found the Masonic rituals of the two 'English' Lodges

strange and unfamiliar. Consequently they petitioned the Grand

Lodge of Washington Territories to form a Lodge of their own in

Victo ria to work in their more familiar 'American' rite.

This met with disapproval voiced by Victoria , " . . . that all

charters come from the mother Country ... ". A sponsorship was

rushed by application being made to the Grand Lodge of Scotland

where liberal ritual recognition policy would allow the operation

of the 'American' rite, yet fulfilled the qualification of Victoria

regarding the Mother country sponsorship. This Lodge became

Vancouver Lodge # 421, late in 1862, under Grand Lodge of Scotland.

By 1871, there were five Scottish and four English Lodges


All but one of the Scottish Lodges expressed a desire to form an

independent Grand Lodge. All but one of the English Lodges opposed

the petition. Despite refusal of permission of the Grand Lodge of

Scotland a meeting was called for 18 March 1871 to discuss this

undertaking. Normal objection by the Provincial Grand Master

successfully interupted their plans, and in spite of electing Dr.

I. W. POWELL as Grand Master, the new Grand Lodge was postponed


Feelings ran high in the two sections of the Craft, but ultimately

it was agreed, mutually, that the independent Grand Lodge was in

their best interest. On 21 October 1871, a convention was held in

Victoria, attended by representatives of all Lodges, except one of

the 'English' section. A unanimous vote in favour of an autonomous

Grand Lodge of B.C., was recorded. Dr. I.W. POWELL was elected

Grand Master and Robert BURNABY was an honourary Past Grand Master.

The single dissenting Lodge, did in fact, affiliat e the following


It is interesting to note that it was not until 1874, three years

duration, that the Grand Lodge of England afforded recognition to

the Grand Lodge of B.C.

Nine years elapsed before the Grand Lodge of Scotland relaxed their

stringent stance and acknowledged Grand Lodge of B.C. in 1880, then

only with certain specific reservations.

Later, the founders of a new Lodge, principally from Australia, who

had landed in Vancouver after participating in the Klondike Gold

Rush, was granted permission to implement the ritual adopted in New

South Wales, described as an impressive and eridite ritual made up

from what a committee deemed the best of the Irish, English and

Scottish rituals. This Lodge became Lodge Southern Cross # 44 in


Thus we find there are four types of rituals being excercised in

B.C. Canadian ( Ontario ), American, English, and New South Wales.

It is also interesting to note that some of the American Lodges use

the 'Look to the East' ritual book of Ralph P. LESTER, which is

considered spurious by many jurisdictions.


Finally I will endeavour to summarize our beginnings in our own

Province of Alberta. The original Masonic Lodge chartered from the

Grand Lodge of Manitoba was Saskatchewan Lodge # 17 which met at

Edmonton. There is no relationship to our present day Lodge by the

same name. It was dispensated on 13 January 1882, instituted 13 Feb

1882, and constituted 21 April 1883.

They elected Phillip HERMINCK worshipful Master, James KERNSHAN

Senior Warden, Ralph Robert BURTON Junior Warden. Originally

started by 13 charter members their transient nature so reduced

their numbers that the remaining members felt obliged to surrender

the charter to the Grand Lodge of Manitoba.

But Alberta Masons were not so easily discouraged., and forty of

them met in George MURDOCH's shack in Calgary to organize a Lodge.

They subscribed sums of five to twenty five dollars each in either

money or lumber to erect a Lodge in Calgary. It was first decided

that they would petition the Grand Lodge of B.C. for dispensation,

but it was finally agreed because of the natural barrier of the

Rocky Mountains and the easier access to Winnipeg, they should

apply to the Grand Lodge of Manitoba instead.

On 10 January 1884, a dispensation was granted to Bow River Lodge

to meet at Calgary on the Monday before the full moon. This is what

is referred to colloqually as "Moon Lodge." It was instituted on

the 28 January 1884 and it's charter dated 14 Feb. 1884. 24

petitioners had recommended that M.J. LINDSAY be Worshipful Master,

George MURDOCH senior warden, Fred E. NEWMAN Junior Warden.

Bow River Lodge members passed a resolution on 14 January 1889,

that the Past Masters and the Wardens of the Lodge be formed into a

committee of the Lodge to confer with other Lodges to form a Grand

Lodge. On 20 April 1890 it was decided by the Lodge to grant $200.

from the Lodge treasury as a guarantee fund towards the

establishment of a Grand Lodge. The members present at that meeting

also signed a guarantee amounting to upwards of $300. additionally.

It was resolved at the 20 June 1890 meeting that a convention of

the Lodges located at Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Anthracite and

Pincher Creek be held at Calgary with Bow River Lodge to consider

formation of a Provincial Grand Lodge. Alberta was not yet a

Province and this technically presented jurisdictional problems,

which delayed fruitition of this dream until 1905.

On 19 April 1905, a communication to Bow River Lodge from

Worshipful Master Brother O.W. HEALY of Medicine Hat Lodge

suggesting a conference of delegates assemble in Calgary on

Victoria Day, 24 May 1905, to further pursue the subject, was

received. Instead it was decided that a convention of delegates

appear and present the proposal to the Grand Lodge of Manitoba to

meet at Medicine Hat on the Monday before Grand Lodge convened.

Worshipful Master Rev.C.W. HOGBIN of Bow River Lodge did call a

convention as suggested for 24 May 1905, and the following Lodges

were represented there:

Bow River # 28 Medicine Hat # 31 Alberta # 37 MacLEOD PERFECTIUN #



Worshipful Master Brother HOGBIN was nominated as Chairman, and

R.W. Brother George MacDONALD as Secretary of the meeting. After

full discussion the following resolution was passed: "That we

proceed to form a Grand Lodge as soon as possible after 01 July

1905." Again, because Alberta was not a Province yet, the

jurisdictional technicalities delayed their efforts. Finally on 01

Sep 1905, Alberta became a Province. This removed the greatest

stumbling block to the creation of a Grand Lodge of Alberta so

longed for by the brethren.

On 12 August 1905, R.W. Bro. HOGBIN issued a notice to all Lodges

in Alberta to convene once more at Calgary on 12 October 1905.

.....Seventeen of the then eighteen Lodges then working were


Now # 1 Bow River Lodge # 28 - Calgary

Now # 2 Medicine Hat Lodge # 31 - Medicine Hat

Alberta Lodge # 37 - Fort MacLeod

Now # 3 North Star Lodge # 41 - Lethbridge

Now # 4 Cascade Lodge # 42 - Banff

Now # 5 Spitze Lodge # 45-PicherCreek

Now # 6 Edmonton Lodge # 53 - Edmonton

Now # 7 Innisfail Lodge # 58 - Innisfail

Now # 8 Red deer Lodge #59 - Red Deer

(Charter Lapsed ). Perfection Lodge # 60 - Calgary

Now # 9 Eureka Lodge # 65 - Lacombe

Now # 10 Acacia Lodge # 66 - Edmonton

Now # 11 Red Deer Lodge # 73 - Red Deer

Now # 12 Victoria Lodge # 76 - Fort Saskatchewan

Now # 13 Jasper Lodge # 78 - Edmonton

Now # 14 Wetaskiwin Lodge # 83 - Wetaskiwin

Now # 15 Mountain View Lodge # 85 - Olds

Now # 16 Nanton Lodge # 97 - Nanton

Now # 17 Britannia Lodge # 98 - Ponoka

Now # 18

The fulfillment of their cherished dreams came to reality on 12

October 1905, when the new Grand Lodge of Alberta was duly

constituted and officers elected and installed.

Presiding at the convention was G.W. HOGBIN, with George MacDONALD

acting as Secretary.

The Officers of our first Grand Lodge were as follows:

Grand Master - R.W. Bro. George MacDONALD - Calgary Deputy Grand

Master - H.C. TAYLOR - Edmonton Senior Grand Warden - T.F. ENGLISH

- Edmonton Junior Grand Warden O.W. HEALY - Medicine Hat Grand

Treasurer - B.Nelson BROWN - Calgary Grand Secretary - J.J. DUNLOP

Edmonton Grand Register - J. HINCHCLIFFE - Red Deer Grand Chaplain

- J.S. CHIVERS - Lethbridge.

The Province was divided into three Masonic Districts, Calgary,

Medicine Hat and Edmonton.

Assisted by Dr. A. BRAITHWAITE, M. W. Bro W.G. SCOTT Grand Master

of the Grand Lodge of Manitoba installed the officers and both of

them were in turn, duly elected honourable Past Grand Masters of

the Grand Lodge of Alberta.

The seal which was adopted was that of the Grand Lodge of Manitoba,

with three crowns substituted for the buffalo which appears in the

space at the lower left corner.

In 1935 the Grand Lodge of Alberta decided to extend it's

boundaries, by annexing that portion of the North West Territories

lying to the west of the fourth meridian and extending to the

easterly boundary of the Yukon. This extension made Alberta the

largest in land area of any Grand Lodge jurisdiction in North


In conclusion I am grateful to have been assigned the service of

researching an authoring this paper for the 1974 Masonic Spring

Workshop in Banff. It has caused me to study an important subject I

have neglected.

Delving into our History has revealed to me how our early Canadian

Masons, the love and ernest labour they expended to start our

beloved Craft working, perservered through the years, through all

manner of difficulty from without and within to deliver it to us,

fine and strong as it is today. They have left us with a noble

heritage. Will the readers of the history of our time find us as

worthy ????

Myron LUSK

Note .... I have borrowed freely from the following sources and am

indebted to the writers and these brethren who so freely made these

works available to me:

The History of Freemasonry in Canada ... by J.Ross ROBERTSON

Freemasonry in Canada before 1750 ... by R.V. HARRIS The Grand

Lodges in Canada ... by Cyril C. MARTIN ( An overview of their

formation ).

Rituals in Canadian Masonic Jurisdictions ... by John E. TAYLOR

Early Masonry in the Canadian West ... by William DOUGLAS A Brief

History of the Grand Lodge of Alberta ... by Sam HARRIS Bow River

Lodge # 1, Calgary Alberta ... by Fred J. HAND Lodge Plan for

Masonic Education .... by Grand Lodge of Alberta Various Grand

Lodge Proceedings, plus a few thoughts of my own.
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