A History of the Early Days of Freemasonry in British Columbia
R.W. Bro. William G. Gamble
The pioneers of Freemasonry have laid broad and deep the foundations of the Craft in this province, and not only does our Order owe tribute to their memory, but so also does the State, for they have given strength and stability to citizenship, and have set intellectual, moral, and spiritual standards for men in every walk of life.
We should remember also those who by Masonic addresses or by Lodge work have helped in the forward march of Freemasonry, and that great body of men who have in their writings translated the best Masonic concepts into a living language, and have beyond measure enriched Masonic ideals.
Would that all the great in Freemasonry could pass in mental review before us, as on a moving picture screen, and could flash into our lives even the merest spark of desire to live the life of true Freemasons, so that, influenced by their words and works, but most of all so inspired by their ideals, that we might turn away from deceptive shadows and, facing the East, see as we progress ever onward and upward a vision of Masonic perfection shining straight before us, bright and clear as our spiritual concept of the City of God; but nothing else in Freemasonry can take the place of a deep, strong, and constant belief in the first and great Commandment: "Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."
When Joshua sent the two and a half tribes into the land of their possession, on the other side of Jordan, he said: "Take diligent heed to do all the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you, to love the Lord Your God, and to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments, and to cleave unto Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul."
Thus were summarized the commandments on the first Table of the Law; and those on the second Table may be even more briefly summarized in the single commandment: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
Therefore, as Freemasonry is founded on the Volume of the Sacred Law, its highest ideal is a strong and constant belief in the Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of Man.
The Early Days
Freemasonry in British Columbia, as in other parts of Canada, followed the path of settlement. In the early days in eastern North America, and later in the North and West, the chief attraction was the fur trade. The demand for furs in Europe, and the potential wealth of furs everywhere in the land that is now British North America led to the formation of fur companies, chief of which was the Hudson's Bay Company established in 1670 by the Charter granted by Charles II to Prince Rupert and his Associates.
After the British conquest of Canada the North-West Fur Company, formed by Scottish merchants in Montreal, sent out explorers and constructed a line of fortified trading posts which became important centres of the trade in furs with the Indians. This company was first to push its operations into the Pacific slope. East of the Rockies there was a bitter rivalry, even to bloodshed, between the two companies. The British Parliament put an end to that rivalry by uniting the companies under the name of Hudson 's Bay Company.
John McLoughlin was made Chief Factor of the whole territory west of the Rocky Mountains, and James Douglas became his first assistant. Chief Factor McLaughlin established the main centre of trade at Fort Vancouver on the north bank of the Columbia River. That place did not seem desirable as a permanent site because Fort Vancouver might be found to be in American territory when the boundary line was settled between American and British territory.
James Douglas was therefore sent northward to discover a more satisfactory place for the chief centre of trade. He chose the southern tip of Vancouver Island, which selection was approved by the company. In the following year, 1843, he set forth with fifteen men in the Steamer Beaver, the first steamship to sail on the Pacific, and erected a palisaded fort, which was officially named Fort Victoria. A few years later when the boundary line was being settled, it proved to be an important factor in keeping the whole of Vancouver Island in British territory.
At first the settlement grew very slowly. However, in 1857 gold was found in the sand bars of the Fraser River, and the following year, when some gold dust was sent to San Francisco, a great rush began to the new fields. Almost overnight Victoria became a city of shacks and tents.
Victoria Lodge, No. 1085, E.R.
In that same year on July 10, 1858, notice was given in the Victoria Gazette of a Masonic meeting to be held on the evening of July 12 to consider matters relating to the Craft. It was to be held in the new store belonging to Southgate and Mitchell, at the south-east corner of Yates and Langley Streets.
So far as it can be determined the men in attendance at that preliminary meeting were: Joseph J. Southgate, George Pearkes, William Jeffray, James N. Thain, William H. Thain, Ronald J. McDonnell, and Allen McDonald.
In due course application for a charter was made to the Grand Lodge of England. It was issued, dated March 19, 1858 and signed by the Earl of Zetland, Grand Master.
Before the Lodge could be formed a Freemason, Samuel James Hazeltine, Chief Engineer of the "Labouchere", was injured in an accident, and died in the Royal Victoria Hospital on August 26, 1859. The Masonic Brethren formed an "Occasional Lodge," and wearing white gloves and aprons made by a tentmaker, marched to the hospital, and from there to the cemetery beyond Christ Church, where they interred the remains of their late Brother with Masonic Honours.
The Warrant for Victoria Lodge, No. 1085, arrived on March 14th, 1860. It was constituted on August 20th, by R.W. Bro. Burnaby, P.M. of Royal Somerset and Inverness Lodge, No. 4. He was assisted by Henry Aquilar, P.M. of Good Report Lodge, No. 158, London. Installed were: Joseph Johnson Southgate, W.M.; George Pearkes, S.W.; William Jeffray, J.W.; James Nealon Thain, Treasurer; Amor de Cosmos, Secretary; William Henry Thain, S.D.; Kady Gambitz, J.D.; Lumley Franklin, I.G.; R. J. McDonnell, Tyler.
Union Lodge, No. 1201, E.R.
Union Lodge, New Westminster, was organized on December 16th, 1861, and was constituted as No. 1201, E.R., on June 24th, 1862, by R.W. Bro. Burnaby. Installed were: R.W. Bro. Henry Holbrook, W.M.; Dr. J. Vernon Siddall, R.E., S.W.; Valentine Hall, J.W.; Capt. J. Cooper, Treasurer; George Frye, Secretary; Dr. S. E. Crain, S.D.; R. Dickenson, J.D.; B. F. Moses, I.G.; D.B. Hickey, Tyler.
Vancouver Lodge, No. 421, S.C.
Vancouver Lodge, Victoria, was formed by Brethren who wanted the American Work. They were opposed, at first, by the English Freemasons at a meeting of Victoria Lodge because they considered that a dispensation to form a new Lodge should emanate only from a Grand Lodge of the Mother Country. Therefore, Dr. Israel Wood Powell, who had recently come to the colony, advised the petitioners to apply to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a Charter. To this procedure, Victoria Lodge offered no objection. A charter w as issued by the Grand Lodge of Scotland, on August 4th, 1862 to Vancouver Lodge, No. 421, S.C. The Lodge was constituted on October 20th, of that year. The three principal officers were: William Jeffray, W.M.; Samuel Goldstone, S.W.; and Alex. Cain, J.W. In a few months W. Bro. Jeffray resigned, and went to the United States and Dr. Powell became Worshipful Master. George Coe became Secretary. Eventually he too went to the United States, but visited Vancouver Lodge in April, 1867 and was made an Honorary Member. In December of that year he became the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Idaho.
On June 3rd the Freemasons laid the Corner Stone of the Jewish Synagogue, at Blanshard and Pandora. The Congregation Emanuel, the German Verein, the Hebrew Benevolent Society, St. Andrew's Society, the Masonic Lodges, the band of H.M.S. Topaze, and also many ladies were present. John Malowanski, the first initiate of Victoria Lodge, offered prayer in Hebrew; and S. Hoffman informed the assembly that it was the 2675th year from the erection of King Solomon's Temple. Kady Gambitz presented the silver trowel, and R.W. Bro. Burnaby laid the Corner Stone. The Scroll recorded the names of all those who had taken part in the ceremony, many of them well known in the history of the Colony. The Colonist reported:
Thus ended an eventful day in the History of the Jews on Vancouver Island, and it must ever be a source of infinite gratification to that body that the ceremonies of the day were participated in by all classes of our community with a hearty good will and brotherly feeling, evincing the highest esteem in which they are held by all their fellow citizens in the City of Victoria.
R.W. Bro. F. W. Howay wrote of a tragic accident at Hope:
The winter of 1861-1862 was very severe. The snow at Hope and Yale was from four to five feet deep. On Front Street in Yale it was even with the tops of the houses. The mercury fell to thirteen degrees below zero and the Fraser was frozen from below New Westminster to the canyons. On January 28th, 1862 Mr. E.W. Crowe, with an Indian companion, undertook to travel on the ice to New Westminster. About two miles above Harrison River he stopped to drink at an air hole. The ice gave way and Mr. Crowe was precipitated head foremost into the river. The Indian, one of Billy Ballou's express messengers, returned to Hope with the sorrowful news. Mr. Crowe was one of the early settlers in Hope and one of its most enterprising merchants. The Masonic fraternity of the village met on January 31st at Hope and passed resolutions of sympathy.
In the year 1861 some miners at Cayoosh wrote to Victoria Lodge:
We find that our number consists of seventeen worthy Master Masons, and we meet on occasion, for the purpose of brightening and improving ourselves in Freemasonry. We have had a dinner on our great Patron's Day. There are many here of the proper material, wishing to be received into the Order, and our being so far away from other Lodges induces us to petition in this wise, so that we may be able to assist many worthy distressed Brethren wbo pass and repass, but our being so far away and not properly organized, we are unable to meet these demands upon us. Also to keep from rusting, as well as for the diffusion of Masonic knowledge, and maintaining brotherly love and our beloved Order, we have appointed a Worshipful Master and Wardens, pro tem. in the hope of receiving a dispensation from your honourable body.
R.W. Bro. Burnaby and Bro. Lewis drafted a reply, and enclosed forms and instructions, and these were forwarded by the secretary, T. C. Nuttall, on May 10th, but the miners had dispersed to the gold fields.
These incidents show that Freemasonry meant something to the brethren in those pioneer days. Now when the radio, television, and the automobile and aeroplane have done so much to annihilate distance, it is difficult to understand pioneer life as it was in those days. Men struggled day by day for a mere existence; aboriginal conditions threatened, and the encircling forest oppressed with inexpressible loneliness, but the memory of a Lodge recalled to Freemasons the pulsating influence of Masonic brotherhoo d, and the sublime teaching of the omnipresence of the Eternal.
Nanaimo Lodge, No. 1090, E.R.
Thus far, Masonic Lodges had been confined to Victoria and New Westminster. The discovery of coal on the Island led to the founding of Nanaimo, and the formation of Nanaimo Lodge. In 1849, a S'nenymo Indian, who was having his rifle repaired by a blacksmith in Victoria, saw the rifle being heated by the burning coal, and he said he knew where the "black stones" could be found. Thereupon, he was taken to Mr. McKay, a Hudson's Bay officer, who promised him a reward if he would bring some of the "black stones" to the Fort. This he did the following spring, and two years later, on August I 4th, Douglas wrote to Mr. McKay thus: "Sir, you will proceed with all diligence to Wentyuhuysen Inlet, commonly called Nanymo Bay, and formally take possession of the coal beds lately discovered there for and on behalf of the Hudson's Bay Company." The name of the city is derived from the Indian word "Sue-ny-mo" or from S'nenymo, the name of the Indian tribe.
Application was made for a Warrant in 1865, and it was granted to Nanaimo Lodge, No. 1090, E.R., in that year by the Grand Lodge of England, but it was lost in the wreck of the "Labouchere", and the new Warrant did not arrive until 1867. The Lodge was constituted by R.W. Bro. Henry Holbrook on May 15th. He was assisted by Victoria Brethren who had come on the steamer "Sir James Douglas." R.W. Bro. Burnaby was unable to attend. The officers installed were: W. H. Franklyn, W.M. and founder; William Clarke, S.W.; William Stewart, J.W.
Cariboo Lodge, No. 469, S.C.
The discovery of gold in William's Creek, Barkerville, in 1861, by William Dietz, for whom the creek was called, and William Barker, for whom the town was called, led to the formation of a Lodge, after the completion of the road, in 1866. The petition was signed on December 8th of that year, and was presented to Vancouver Lodge on January 16th, 1867 by Jonathan Nutt. It was endorsed and given to Dr. I. W. Powell, to be forwarded to the Grand Lodge of Scotland, as Vancouver Lodge had made application, previously, to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a Provincial Grand Lodge, and had recommended Dr. Powell for the office of Provincial Grand Master. He was appointed to that office by Commission, dated May 8th, 1867. The Charter for Cariboo Lodge, No. 469, S.C. was received on December 7th, 1867, and the Lodge was constituted on June 24th, 1868. The first officers were: Jonathan Nutt, W.M.; D. McNaughton, D.M.; John Muir, Substitute Master; J. W. Hill, S.W.; George Grant, J.W.; R. Borthwick, Treasurer: W. Cochrane, Secretary; J. S. Thompson, S.D.; A. Campbell, J.D.; W. Jones, I.G.; G. C. Webster, Tyler. Other Charter Members were: Henry E. Seeley, W. Muesta, I. W. Powell, B. P. Anderson, W. H. Fitzgerald, and N. F. Foster.
British Columbia Lodge, No. 1187, E.R.
Meanwhile, Victoria, Union, and Nanaimo Lodges were working for a District Grand Lodge, as, by a regulation of December 6th, 1865, all Minor Grand Lodges outside of England were to be so named; but they required another Lodge. A petition, signed by Thomas Harris as W.M.; John Banks as S.W.; and Henry Nathan as J.W.; and also by: George Creighton, A. Finlay Main, and Eli Harrison, was forwarded to the Grand Lodge of England. A Warrant was issued to British Columbia Lodge, No. 1187, E.R.
R.W. Bro. Burnaby installed the following officers: Thomas Harris, W.M.; A. Finlay Main, S.W.; Henry Nathan, J.W.; Paul Medana, Treasurer; A. Theakstone, Secretary; E. Harrison, S.D.; George Creighton, J.D.; I. Ragazzoni, I.G.
The Grand Secretary of the Grand lodge of England noted that John Banks had left the Colony, and A. Finlay Main had been appointed in his place, and he said: "If it is intended that he has been appointed to the office, I beg to inform you that such proceeding is irregular, as it is not in the power of anyone, save the Grand Master himself, to put anyone in a Warden's Chair at the institution of a new Lodge." He also noted that certain persons had been appointed to office although their names were not attached to the petition; also, that the Lodge had not been consecrated.
Thus early, difficulties began to arise because of the remoteness of final authority. R.W. Bro. Burnaby constituted the Lodge on October 27th, 1867; and he was appointed District Grand Master by patent from the Grand Master of England on September 10th, 1867. The officers of the Provincial Grand Lodge (S.R.) were installed on December 24th, 1867; and the Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Bro. Israel Wood Powell, and his Officers conducted the installation of the Officers of Vancouver Lodge on December 27th, 1867.
Caledonia Lodge, No. 478, S.C.
Half the number of members of Nanaimo Lodge wanted the American work. They made application to the Provincial Grand Master for a dispensation to form a Lodge, to be named Caledonia Lodge. The Lodge was instituted by R.W. Bro. Powell on November 18th, 1868, and the two Lodges agreed to an equal division of assets and liabilities. Caledonia Lodge, No. 478, S.C., was constituted on April 5th, 1869. The Principal Officers were: S. D. Levi, W.M.; William Stewart, S.W.; James Harvey, J.W. The principal District Grand Lodge Officers (E.R.) were: R.W. Bro. Robert Burnaby, D.G.M.: R.W. Bro. Henry Holbrook, D.D.G.M.: R.W. Bro. J. F. McCreight, D.S.G.W.; R.W. Bro. W. H. Smith, D.J.G.W. The first meeting was on August 20th, 1868. After the opening, the Brethren attended a Service in St. John's Church, and on their return to the Lodge Room, R.W. Bro. Powell presented R.W. Bro. Burnaby to R.W. Bro. Holbrook for installation, after which the visitors retired, and R.W. Bro. Burnaby installed the other officers.
Mount Hermon Lodge, No. 491, S.C.
The next meeting of the District Grand Lodge (E.R.) was held in New Westminster. In the absence of R.W. Bro. Burnaby, R.W. Bro. Holbrook presided. He not only dismissed a complaint against Union Lodge for accepting a candidate without previous notice to the brethren at Burrard, but severely reprimanded those who made the complaint. This the Brethren at Burrard considered the more unfair, as the candidate in question was a personal friend of R.W. Bro. Holbrook. In consequence of this and other considerations, the brethren of Burrard determined to withdraw from Union Lodge and from the English Jurisdiction, and to form a Lodge of their own at Burrard Inlet, where Bro. Sewell Prescott Moody's mills were situated. Bro. Moody helped them to build a Hall, and his accountant, Bro. J. C. Hughes wrote to the Provincial Grand Secretary, R.W. Bro. Heisterman, who advised him to apply at once for a dispensation. This the Burrard brethren did, and the dispensation was issued on January 11th, 1869.
The Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Bro. Powell, came to Burrard on January 15th, and some of the Brethren met him at the wharf and escorted him to the Lodge Room. Dr. A. W. S. Black, a visitor, acted as Secretary, and Bro. J. C. Hughes acted as Tyler. All the other officers took their own places. The Lodge was then opened, and R.W. Bro. Powell, Provincial Grand Master, consecrated it and installed the officers, namely: J. C. Hughes, W.M.; W. O. Allen, S.W.; Philander W. Swett, J.W. The Lodge was named Mount Hermon, and numbered 491, S.C. The Charter was dated May 5th, 1869. At a meeting of the District Grand Lodge, on March 11th, 1869, the Brethren invited the cooperation of the Provincial Grand Lodge in forming a Fund of Benevolence, and they appointed to the Committee Hon. J. F. McCreiglit, Joshua Blackbourns, and Eli Harrison. At the second meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge Simeon Duck, W. Jackson, and James Harvey were appointed to the Joint Committee.
At that meeting, the Provincial Grand Master said that discussion after an unfavourable ballot was productive of evil and a slur upon the Lodge; that, whether in or out of the Lodge, no brother had a right to say how be voted; and that comment is unlawful. He also advised that the greatest care should be taken in admitting visitors, and that the most convincing proof of true and honest fellowship should be demanded; and, that if a single doubt existed, the portals of Freemasonry should be firmly closed to the applicant.
He mentioned a complaint that a rejected candidate had been received into a Lodge of the sister jurisdiction, but that R.W. Burnaby had claimed that the Lodge had a perfect right to receive and deal with the application. He said that there were other instances, and he added: "Lodges located in the same town which give encouragement to the immediate, or if you will, prompt acceptance of petitions of candidates rejected by a sister Lodge, not only open wide our portals to the questionable, if not the unworthy, but lower the respectability and utterly destroy, in so far as their influence is concerned, the prestige of Freemasonry."
R.W. Bro. Burnaby made a careful investigation, but could find no evidence of solicitation, as charged by R.W. Bro. Powell, and that the required time had elapsed between rejection and re-application in the case of the candidate in question. He also contended that the candidate, in applying to another lodge, was only exercising the right that would have been his, had he chosen once more to risk a second application to the Lodge that had rejected him.
The whole truth was that R.W. Bro. Powell believed in perpetual jurisdiction over rejected material, and R.W. Bro. Burnaby did not.
Movement for an Independent Grand Lodge
On December 10th, W. Bro. A. H. Adams brought the matter before Vancouver Lodge by a series of resolutions in which he noted that eight Lodges with a total membership of three hundred were supporting two Grand Lodges and contributing to two others, which were ten thousand miles distant; that no money was left for local or charitable purposes; that two jurisdictions tended to create jealousy and rivalry, and that decisions were not final.
When the resolutions were brought before the Provincial Grand Lodge, on May 1st, 1869, the Provincial Grand Master would take no part in the movement until he had submitted the resolutions to the Grand Lodge of Scotland. At the request of Victoria Lodge, R.W. Bro. Burnaby wrote to the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of England, and informed him that there were many Americans, and Canadians also, who came from jurisdictions where they had an Independent Grand Lodge and were acquainted with some form of the American work.
The Grand Secretary in his reply said that as a District Grand Lodge under the Grand Lodge of England, they had a far more influential position than as an Independent Grand Lodge, "whose paucity of numbers would simply render it ridiculous." He did not even consider R.W. Bro. Burnaby's letter of sufficient importance to lay it before the Grand Master, but trusted that the judiciousness of R.W. Bro. Burnaby's measures and the good sense of the Brethren would not render such a proceeding necessary.
The Provincial Grand Lodge held its third and last meeting on June 25th, 1870, but no mention was made of an Independent Grand Lodge. The Brethren of the Scottish Jurisdiction concentrated their efforts on the formation of a fifth Lodge, which was instituted as Quadra Lodge, on January 11th, with James Allen Grahame as Master. On January 18th, 1871, Vancouver Lodge decided to form an Independent Grand Lodge, and appointed Simeon Duck, G. C. Keays, H. F. Heisterman, and George Grant to carry out the Resolutions and to invite the co-operation of the other Lodges in the Colony. On July 14th, 1870, R.W. Bro. Robert Burnaby issued the following Commission: "Know all men by these presents that we, Robert Burnaby, District Grand Master of F. and A. Masons, in British Columbia, hailing from the United Grand Lodge of England, by power in me vested, do hereby appoint, constitute and nominate our well beloved and trusty Brother W. W. Francis, to act for us and duly to represent us in any and all regular Communications of the Grand Lodge of Oregon, when and wherever convened." This was the first appointment of a Grand Representative from this Province to a foreign Jurisdiction. At a meeting of the District Grand Lodge on March 11th, 1871, the following resolution was passed:
"That the Board of General Purposes do not think it desirable to take steps at present towards the formation of an Independent Grand Lodge of British Columbia, whilst they feel that circumstances may occur in the future to render such proceeding desirable."
A Convention for the formation of an Independent Grand Lodge was called by Vancouver Lodge for March 18th and 20th, 1871, although Dr. Powell was in England. At that Convention, all the Scottish Lodges were fully represented. W. Bro. Eli Harrison was the only Freemason present from the English Jurisdiction. He was given full voting privileges.
The Convention elected a full slate of officers, and arranged to meet on Monday, the 20th for installation, which Past Grand Master, Ellwood Evans, of Washington, agreed to conduct. M.W. Bro. Evans advised by telegram, that he would be in Victoria on Monday, at 7:30 in the evening, but although the telegram was received early on Monday morning, R.W. Bro. Burnaby did not receive notice until 4:30 in the afternoon. Then he received an invitation to be present as one who had always taken a great interest in Freemasonry.
Just before the meeting, the District Grand Secretary delivered to V.W. Bro. H. F. Heisterman, the Convention Secretary, a letter from R.W. Bro. Burnaby, demanding to know by what authority they met; and a letter was delivered to M.W. Bro. Evans, protesting against the proceedings. The District Grand Secretary then protested personally and retired. Thereupon, M.W. Bro. Evans asked the Provincial Grand Secretary to read the minutes of the Proceedings. He found that a number of the Lodges refused to take part in the formation of an Independent Grand Lodge and that the Grand Master elect was in England. He therefore refused to conduct the installation, and early next morning returned to Olympia. A somewhat lengthy correspondence then took place between M.W. Bro. Evans and R.W. Bro. Burnaby, but, while it doubtless led to a better understanding between them, it added little to the situation, except to halt what might have been a disastrous proceeding from Masonic point of view.
Dr. Powell arrived home early in June. He took no steps towards forming a Grand Lodge. As soon as possible he had an interview with R.W. Bro. Burnaby, and together they reviewed the whole situation. They agreed that, since neither Grand Lodge had shown any real interest in their problems, the solution depended on themselves alone. Therefore, they decided to take a per capita vote of all the Freemasons in the Colony; and, if a clear two-thirds majority favoured the establishment of an Independent Grand Lodge, it should be established; if not, matters would have to remain as they were, at least for the present. Dr, Powell then wrote a circular letter to the Lodges under his Jurisdiction, expressing regret at the differences of opinion that had arisen between the Jurisdictions. In his opinion, first, last, and always, the most important object of a convention of Freemasons should be the unity and unanimity of both Jurisdictions in British Columbia.
He said that when he had received the high honour of being the representative of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, previous to the appointment of a District Grand Master, his first action was to endeavour to bring the government of both Crafts under one head, as they were in Nova Scotia at that time. He said that if it were the wish of the Brethren of his Jurisdiction, as would appear from the action of the several Lodges, that the time had arrived for the establishment of an Independent Grand Lodge, and the consequent resignation of his trust, he appealed with confidence to their sympathy, support, and co-operation in making his efforts for unity gloriously successful. He said: "Let us all practise that great Masonic virtue of mutual forbearance, and we shall have the great satisfaction of making permanent provision for the future preservation of perfect harmony, and brotherly love of all Freemasons of this Colony, which will be your highest and best reward."
He said the conference with the District Grand Master bad been beset with many difficulties; and he bore evidence to the more kindly spirit which had actuated the distinguished Brother in all their consultations, without which any effort of his would have been vain and valueless. He said he thought it proper to make no comment on the past in view of the greater importance of the future. He commended to them the example of the Right Worshipful Brother, who had assured him of his cordial assent and future co-operation, as proof of which he quoted from R.W. Burnaby's letter to the Lodges of the English Jurisdiction, dated June 26th, 1871, as follows: "After long and full discussion with R.W. Bro. Powell, Provincial Grand Master, we have considered together that it will be for the best interests of Freemasonry in the Colony to ascertain the views of the Craft generally, as to the formation of an Independent Grand Lodge, in which all should be able to unite; and for that purpose to take a per capita vote, yea or nay, on the subject. The Brethren under my jurisdiction are requested to dismiss from their minds all questions that have been raised, and to give their unbiased vote on this important point, with a view to the preservation of harmony, and unanimity in our Ancient Craft."
According to the instructions, the secretary was to read the circular at the regular communication in July, but no vote was to be taken then; the Brethren were given time to consider the matter. Then a special meeting was to be called under seal of the Lodge, and, after due discussion, a vote was to be taken, viva voce, or by ballot, as the Lodge should decide. The result was to be sent to the Grand Secretary of the Jurisdiction, in a letter signed by the Master and Secretary, and sealed with the seal of the Lodge.
Union Lodge did not vote, at first, but the Secretary, John Murray, wrote to the District Grand Secretary on August 28th, 1871, stating all objections made by R.W. Bro. Holbrook, but he was informed that it was necessary to send in the returns according to the Instructions, as the District Grand Master was pledged to return the numerical result to the Grand Lodge of England. The New Westminster vote was received on September 21st, 1871. The result of the vote in the English Jurisdiction was: Victoria Lodge, 18 for and 3 against; British Columbia Lodge, 19 for and 7 against: Union Lodge, 2 for and 9 against: Nanaimo Lodge, 1 for and 6 against. Thus, the total vote in the English Jurisdiction was 42 for and 25 against. In the Scottish Jurisdiction the vote was unanimous for an Independent Grand Lodge.
On September 21st, the Grand Secretary of the Provincial Grand Lodge sent the following notice to the Lodge:
Referring to the Grand Master's circular of June 25th, 1871, requesting a per capita vote of the Brethren of our Jurisdiction on the question of an Independent Grand Lodge of British Columbia, I am requested to enclose herewith for the information of your Lodge the resulting returns of such votes. In accordance therewith, your Lodge is now desired to authorize the Worshipful Master, Past Masters, and Wardens to meet like representatives from all other Lodges in the Province, in Convention, on the 21st of October, 1871, at 7:30 p.m., in the Masonic Hall, Government Street, Victoria, to determine details, and to take such action as may be deemed necessary for the formation of an Independent Grand Lodge of Freemasons in British Columbia. Proxies, in lieu of Officers, may be appointed only if there is no possibility of the latter being able to attend.
Formation of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia
Representatives from all lodges, except Union, met at the appointed time and place; at 7:00 o'clock; as many members of the former Convention as were present had met and cancelled the proceedings of the former Convention.
At the Convention of the day, a Credential Committee had been appointed. When the meeting was called to order by the Chairman, W. Bro. James Allen Grahame, and when called upon they reported as follows:
Victoria Lodge, No. 783: C. Thorne, W.M.; R. Burnaby, P.M.: J. F. McCreigbt, P.M.; Henry Nathan, P.M.; John Banks, P.M.; S. L, Kelly, S.W.; I. Ragazzoni, J.W.
Vancouver Lodge, No. 421, S.C,: W. Dalby, W.M.; Dr. I. W. Powell, P.M.; Simeon Duck, P.M.; M. W. Waitt, P.M.; Joshua Davies, Proxy for G. C. Keayes, P.M.; James Crump, S.W.; and John Stafford, J.W.
Nanaimo Lodge, No. 1090, E.R.: W. H. Thain, proxy for A. Allport, W.M.; George Booth, Proxy for W. Clarke, P.M.: George Bevillockway, S.W.; Edward Quennell, Proxy for Mark Bate, J.W.
Cariboo Lodge, No. 469, S.C.: H. F. Heisterman, proxy for J. S. Thompson, W.M.; Jeremiah Madden, proxy for Jonathan Nutt, P.M.; Alex. Gilmour, proxy for John Bruce, S.W.; R. F. Rithet, proxy for Edward Pearson, J.W.
British Columbia Lodge, No. 1187, E.R.: Thomas Shotbolt, W.M.; J. Winger, S.W.; and R. Brown, J.W,
Caledonia Lodge, No. 478, S.C.: Eli Harrison, proxy for William Stewart, W.M.: S. D. Levi, P.M.; W. R. Willson, proxy for J. Kenwick, S.W.: J. Kreimler, proxy for A. Muir, J.W.
Mount Hermon Lodge, No. 491, S.C.: Dr. W. Jackson, proxy for John McDonald, W.M.: Simeon Duck, proxy for J. C. Hughes, P.M.; Charles Taylor, proxy for Coote M. Chambers, P.M.; W. Dalby, proxy for G. W, Haynes, S,W. Quadra Lodge, U.D.: James A. Grahame, W.M.; Eli Harrison, P.M.: C. Strouss, proxy for W. Fraser, S.W.; H. B. Willson Aikman, J.W.
The Report was submitted by S. D. Levi and W. H. Thain, Credential Committee, and adopted.
Moved by R.W. Bro. Burnaby, and seconded by R.W. Bro. Powell: That in order to establish perfect harmony and accord, and to promote the lasting welfare of the Masonic Fraternity in British Columbia, it is expedient to form a Grand lodge in and for the Province of British Columbia. This was carried unanimously, and with great applause.
Moved by W. Bro. S. D. Levi, seconded by M. W. Waitt: That the representatives, now in Convention assembled, on behalf of their respective Lodges, do hereby declare themselves to be, and that they now proceed to organize, the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Antiant, Free and Accepted Masons of British Columbia. This was carried.
It was then moved by R.W. Bro. Burnaby, seconded by R.W. Bro. Powell: That the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of England, in so far as it may be found applicable to existing circumstances, be adopted, except that the following officers shall be elected: Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master, Grand Wardens, Grand Chaplain, Grand Treasurer and Grand Tyler, This resolution was carried.
R.W. Bro. Powell and R.W. Bro. Burnaby then retired. The officers elected were: Dr. I. W. Powell, Grand Master; Hon. J. F. McCreight, Deputy Grand Master; Simeon Duck, S.G.W.; Henry Nathan, J.G.W.; F. Gribble, Grand Chaplain; M. W. Waitt, Grand Treasurer; P. J. Hall, Grand Tyler. H. F. Heisterman was appointed Grand Secretary.
R. W. Bro. Burnaby was made Past Grand Master, and W. Bro. James Allen Grahame was made Honorary Past Deputy Grand Master.
The date of Installation was set for December 26th, and R.W. Bro. Burnaby was requested to act as Installing Officer.
The last meeting of the District Grand Lodge was held on December 21st, 1871. The Brethren from New Westminster could not attend because of the breaking up of the ice. R.W. Bro. Holbrook, however, was present, having left by an earlier boat. He objected to their becoming part of the Grand Lodge. The District Grand Master said he could not see any reason why Union Lodge could not work in harmony with the Grand Lodge, but he hoped that R.W. Bro. Holbrook would convey to the Brethren of Union Lodge the fraternal desire of himself and the District Grand Lodge to be at all times on the best fraternal intercourse with them.
R.W. Bro. Burnaby thanked the Brethren most cordially for the support they had given him during his term of office, and he hoped they would pardon his shortcomings.
The District Grand Lodge was then closed for the last time.
M.W. Bro. Israel W. Powell
On December 26th, 1871, M.W. Bro. I. W. Powell and the other elective officers were installed, and the following appointive officers: H. F. Heisterman, Grand Secretary; William Clarke, Senior Grand Deacon; I. Ragazzoni, Junior Grand Deacon; E. Lewis, Grand Superintendent of Works; Eli Harrison, Grand Director of Ceremonies; William Dalby, Grand Marshal; Thomas Shotbolt, Grand Sword Bearer; J. Austen, Grand Organist; J. Winger, J. Crump, R. Brown, J. S. Thompson, J. C. Hughes, Grand Stewards: S. L, Kelly, G. Pursuivant. R.W. Bro. Burnaby, after congratulating the Grand Master on the high honour he had attained, said he wished to state his complete satisfaction in the work just consummated. Although at first he had felt it his duty to oppose the movement, he had duly appreciated the efforts of those who had tried to unite the discordant elements, and as soon as he had seen his way clear to do so, he had joined with them. He then read a letter from the Grand Secretary, informing him that he had received the papers regarding the formation of the Grand Lodge, and the Colonial Board thought he had conducted himself with great judgment and tact in the difficult position in which he had been placed, and that he could not have been better advised. The Grand Secretary referred to a letter be had received from R.W. Bro. Holbrook, stating that Union Lodge was adhering to the Grand Lodge of England, and that its rights and privileges would be reserved. The Grand Secretary said that although they would not be intimately connected, he would have his unalterable esteem and respect.
R.W. Bro. Burnaby had sent his resignation as District Grand Master, and he wrote: "It will always be a source of pride to hail from and be connected with the Grand Lodge of England, and it is not without a pang that I feel myself compelled, in however slight a manner, to sever the connection that has bound us together. Nothing but the urgent necessity of it would have led me to take such a step." He hoped the Grand Lodge of England would recognize that necessity and would officially recognize the Grand Lodge of British Columbia. He expressed the wish that all the members of the Craft would unite in striving to maintain and uphold the Grand Lodge of British Columbia, so happily and so harmoniously inaugurated, and that all would endeavour to cement our Order with the bond of brotherly love and concord. The Grand Master, after his investiture, thanked R.W. Bro. Burnaby for the important part he had taken in the inaugural ceremonies, and he said that if anything could add to the honour of being elected Grand Master, it was the perfect gratification of being installed by him. It was not to be wondered at, he said, that the Craft had unanimously asked him to be the first Past Grand Master. He hoped their future efforts, to establish the principles of the Order on a sure and lasting basis, would be benefitted by his valuable assistance and co-operation. He said in conclusion: "A true Masonic patriot, a faithful British Columbian, may you be long spared to shed light and love upon the Craft, and to give good deeds of faithful citizenship to your adopted country."
R.W. Bro. Burnaby made an eloquent reply, and then the Master Mason Lodge was closed. and the Grand Lodge was opened in ample form, a procession was formed, and the Grand Lodge was fully consecrated.
At the evening session, the Grand Master thanked the Brethren for the honour conferred upon him, and appealed to them for harmony and love. He asked them to remember that the excellence of the superstructure would depend on the excellence and solidarity of the foundation. He said the eyes of the world were upon them, and that they must give proof of their capabilities for self-government, and of their ability and intention to form a worthy link in the great chain of Grand Lodges on this Continent. "Let us render grateful thanksgiving to the Most High for having prospered us in the past, and let us unite in imploring His blessing in our present union, and with reverence and fervor, seek His guidance in time to come." He said he had forwarded his resignation to the Grand Lodge of Scotland on July 21st, 1871, and had previously sent the resolutions passed by Vancouver Lodge, but bad taken no part in the movement for or against an Independent Grand Lodge, as it had not the sympathy of the English Jurisdiction. He believed that such a change would only cause envy and jealousy, and would mean the frustration of the very objects for which a Grand Lodge should be formed. Union Lodge was outside the Jurisdiction, but he hoped they would not long so remain. "Every enlightened Brother," he said, "whose heart is in his home, and whose home is in British Columbia, must see that his first duty is to the Craft, and that the highest interests of the Brotherhood require him to give his cordial assistance and co-operation in maintaining the exclusive and undivided supremacy of this Grand Lodge within the boundaries of this Province."
On behalf of the Provincial Grand Lodge, be presented their regalia to the Grand Lodge, and he said they could also have the regalia and jewels of the District Grand Lodge by assuming a debt of $450.00 due thereon. He recommended the formation of a Board of Relief, the erection of a Masonic Hall, and the sending of notices to sister Grand Lodges.
In conclusion, he said: "Only the Corner Stone of the great Temple we have united to build in this young Province has been auspiciously laid. Care, supervision, unremitting zeal, and the most steadfast devotion will enable us to crown our honourable efforts with the cope-stone of success. Let us all work faithfully in the interests of this great work, and may it finally meet with the approval and acceptance of the Grand Master above, Who is the Most High and the Great Architect of the Universe." He recommended the granting of intermediate warrants to Victoria Lodge, No. 1; Vancouver Lodge, No. 2; Nanaimo Lodge, No. 3; Cariboo Lodge, No. 4; British Columbia Lodge, No. 5; Caledonia Lodge, No. 6; Mount Hermon Lodge, No. 7; and Quadra Lodge, No. 8. After several resolutions of thanks, the First Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Antient, Free and Accepted Masons of British Columbia was closed in Ample Form, and so proclaimed, on St. John's Day, December 27tb, 1871.
Early Years of Grand Lodge
Although British Columbia bad become a Province of the Dominion on July 20th, 1871, there was continued depression. The Province was depending chiefly on mines; for lumbering, which later became such an important industry, was confined almost entirely to the two mills on Burrard Inlet. In 1858, James Allen Grahame, by order of the Hudson's Bay officials in London, had relinquished Fort George, and two years later had moved the Company's headquarters from Fort Vancouver to Victoria, but even the Company's trade was reduced to a minimum, because of the failure of the fur market in Europe. So great was the depression that a petition was circulated for annexation with the United States. Doubtless the depression was, in part, responsible for Masonic as well as for political change. It recalls the Annexation Manifesto of 1849 in the two Canadas, a movement which was countered by the British America League, which sponsored three resolutions: to maintain inviolate the connection with the Mother Country; to advocate Confederation; and to institute a commercial National Policy.
During the early years of Grand Lodge, membership remained in a somewhat static condition. The number of Lodges was reduced, without detriment to the membership, for Freemasonry depends more on the strength and character of the Lodges than on their number. The amalgamation of the two Lodges in Nanaimo, and the reduction of four Lodges in Victoria to two, by the same means, was an advantage, as it strengthened the Lodges, and did not lessen the total membership in the Province, but there could be no hope of material advantage until the completion of the railroad brought people and capital. It was necessary, therefore, to consolidate what they had.
The Grand Secretary had sent to Union Lodge copies of the Proceedings of the Convention and of the Grand Lodge Communication, and also a copy of the Constitution. In the accompanying letter, he expressed the Grand Master's regret that no representative of Union Lodge had been present at the meeting of the Grand Lodge, but he hoped the members of Union Lodge would approve of the action taken, and he hoped they would see their way clear to become a constituent of the Grand Lodge, as it was desirable to have Masonic affairs in the Province controlled by its own members; and, if Union Lodge would agree to what its name implied, it would give him unfeigned pleasure to accord to it the rank of second oldest Lodge in the Province.
About that time, it so happened that Union Lodge had acquired some land in Sapperton for a cemetery, and had planned to erect a chapel, and to have the Grand Master and his officers present at the laying of the Corner Stone, and they sent a letter to M.W. Bro. Powell to that effect. However, soon afterwards the Grand Master received a letter from R.W. Bro. Holbrook, expressing indignation at his acceptance of the invitation, although there was nothing definite in the letter from Union Lodge, nor had the Grand Master even written a reply. After the receipt of R.W. Holbrook's letter, he wrote to Union Lodge that he refused to have anything to do with the laying of the Corner Stone until they had received a reply from the Grand Lodge of England, or until they had resigned their English Charter, as he wished to avoid any unfortunate incident in the matter of an interesting ceremonial where the utmost harmony should prevail. The result was that Union Lodge held a meeting, and passed a resolution that they did not recognize R.W. Bro. Holbrook's authority, and that they decided to offer the Hall to the Grand Lodge of British Columbia, and to inform the Grand Master accordingly. The Grand Master, therefore, agreed to lay the Corner Stone on July 30th, 1872. On that date, the Grand Lodge was opened, and a procession was formed on Columbia Street, the Victoria Band leading, followed by the Officers and Members of the Oddfellows' Lodge, and by the Royal Arch Masons and the Freemasons, and then the Grand Master with the Grand Stewards and Grand Tyler. On arriving at the site, the procession countermarched, the officers took their places, and the Grand Master delivered an eloquent address, and then laid the Corner Stone with Masonic ceremony. The procession was then re-formed, and the Freemasons returned to the Hall, where the Grand Lodge was closed in due form. Soon afterwards, Union Lodge met, and passed a unanimous resolution to join the Grand Lodge of British Columbia, The Grand Secretary forwarded a copy of the resolution to the Grand Lodge of England, and Union Lodge sent a petition requesting a Warrant from the Grand lodge of British Columbia. When the Grand Lodge of British Columbia was formed, the English Lodges paid to the Grand Lodge the money due to the District Grand Lodge, and if Union Lodge had wished to do the same, it would have been ranked as No. 2, but the members preferred to rank as No. 9 rather than pay the required sum.
The Grand Master sent his congratulations, and said he thought that their becoming a constituent of the Grand Lodge would result in their future prosperity.
The Grand Secretary reported to the Grand Lodge of England on December 12th, 1872, and suggested that the District Lodges be allowed to keep their Warrants, as memorials of their parent Grand Lodge.
After Union Lodge decided to join the Grand Lodge, R.W. Bro. Henry Holbrook, at a Lodge meeting, had a serious difference with the other members, and, deeply incensed with their decision, he left the Lodge without ceremony. This, and other actions no less indiscreet, led to his exclusion; and, though he made several appeals at various times, he was unable to obtain a reversal of the decision of the Lodge.
At the second Annual Communication of Grand Lodge, December 7th, 1872, the Grand Master said that it was especially gratifying to have Union Lodge as a constituent of the Grand Lodge. Of Confederation, he said they had reason to rejoice in the hope of prosperity that brightened the present and illuminated the future of the Dominion. He looked forward to the time when they would have rapid communication with the East, and thus be able to participate in the common thrift, and in the propitious advancement of our magnificent continent. In conclusion he said: "If I were without the hope of still continuing to aid in the good work, as a grateful labourer, the resignation of the gavel would indeed be attended with sorrow and regret." At the Third Annual Communication, December 6th and 7th, 1873, the Grand Master reported that he had visited all the Lodges except Cariboo, but the Deputy Grand Master had visited it, and had reported that he was well pleased with his reception, and he mentioned particularly the interest manifested by the brethren and the prosperous condition of the Lodge. On April 20th of that year, William Henry Fitzgerald, a Charter Member of Cariboo Lodge, died at Germanson Creek; and, on the day appointed for the funeral, Freemasons came from Manson's Creek and bore the body of their late brother to a suitable burying place, and interred it with Masonic Honours.
William Henry Fitzgerald, Engineer, at the age of 22, was initiated in Albion Lodge, No. 17, now No. 2, G.R.Q., on June 12th, 1857, passed on July 12th, and was raised on August 14th. He served as Inner Guard from the Annual Meeting following until June 17th, 1858, after which there is no mention of him in the Lodge minutes; but he is recorded in the records of the Grand Lodge of Scotland as a Charter Member of Cariboo Lodge, Barkerville. On April 12, 1872, he was appointed Gold Commissioner and stipendiary magistrate of Omineca, and he spent the following winter at Fort St. James, but having received a complaint from the Department, relative to his wintering there, he wrote: "Since I have had charge of this District, I have endeavoured to distribute my services and those of the officials under my control, with a view to meeting the requirements of the public service." Bro. W. H. Fitzgerald should be remembered as one of the pioneer Freemasons of the Cariboo, as a pioneer of Northern British Columbia, as a Brother who was a true Freemason, and as a man who was faithful unto death.
Ashlar Lodge, No. 3
In the absence of the Grand Master from the Jurisdiction, the Deputy Grand Master authorized R.W. Bro. J. F. McCreight to lay the Corner Stone of the Masonic Temple at Nanaimo, on October 15th, 1873. He was accompanied by R.W. Bro. Burnaby and the Grand Secretary, and by other officers and members of Grand Lodge. The ceremony was performed with dignity and efficiency, and was marked by complete harmony between the Lodges. When the Temple was completed, the brethren decided that if they could work in harmony in the construction of the Temple, they should be able to work as one Lodge, but Caledonia insisted on having the American work and the Scottish regalia. As these were conceded, they united as Ashlar Lodge.
The Grand Master consecrated the Hall on October 21st, 1874, and that was the only meeting of Grand Lodge in that year. The Fourth Annual Communication was held in Victoria on February 20th and 22nd, 1875.
The Grand Master in his address referred to the need of a Masonic Temple in Victoria. He said over Twelve Thousand Dollars had been spent in rents, enough to have built a temple of their own. The Committee agreed, and the Board of General Purposes was authorized to select a site. Simeon Duck, Eli Harrison, H. F. Heisterman and Thomas Shotbolt were appointed as a Committee.
The Grand Master thought the use of different rituals was responsible for the lack of interest in the Lodges, and he asked that Grand Lodge consider the matter, and the Board of General Purposes was asked to communicate with the Lodges in order to ascertain their views.
Recognition was accorded to the Grand Lodge of Hungary, as it had seceded from the Grand Orient of France. Recognition was accorded to Grand Lodge "Zur Somme," head of the Grand Lodge League. R.W. Bro. Heisterman was appointed representative.
M.W. Bro. Powell had filled the office of Grand Master for three years and two months, and he refused reelection, and SirTieon Duck was chosen as the next Grand Master.
M.W. Bro. Simeon Duck
One of the outstanding events of M.W. Bro. Simeon Duck's Masonic Year was the re-union of Grand Lodges at Olympia, on August 17th and 18th, 1875. Representing British Columbia were: Frederick Williams, D.G.M.; Eli Harrison, P. J. Hall, E. Crow Baker, A. A. Green, and Frank Richards. They sailed on the Steamer Favorite, but arrived a day late, because of fog. They were received by M.W. Bro. Hadyn, Grand Master of Washington, and by M.W. Bro. Rothschild, P.G.M. After breakfast, they were taken to a grand clam bake in a large orchard near the water's edge. The Deputy Grand Master, replying to the honours given to the Grand Lodge of British Columbia, gave a cordial invitation to all present to visit Victoria, and to receive such hospitality and welcome as time and circumstances would permit.
In the evening, hundreds of brethren with their wives and daughters embarked on the steamers North Pacific and Favorite, and arrived in Victoria in the afternoon of Thursday, August 19th. They were welcomed by the four Victoria Lodges, by Columbia Royal Arch Chapter, and by the Grand Lodge of British Columbia. The ladies were taken to Philharmonic Hall, on Fort Street, and the Lodges, led by a band, formed in procession and marched to the Philharmonic Hall.
R.W. Bro. Williams introduced the two Grand Masters: M.W. Bro. Hadyn, of Washington; M.W. Bro. Congle, of Oregon; and also M.W. Bro. Ellwood Evans, P.G.M. of Washington, and other distinguished visitors.
Grand Master Simeon Duck, in welcoming the visitors, said in part: "I know that there are many who denounce the Order for all that is low and mean and as something from the Evil One, and that strong effort is being made in some parts of the country to accomplish its entire destruction; but if ever there existed a human institution more distinguished than any other for the principles and practice of Brotherly Love and genuine morality, it is the one in which we have assembled today."
The Grand Orator of Oregon said: "May the Grand Master of the Universe grant that no differences may arise between people having a common origin, speaking a common language, worshipping the same God, and largely governed by the same unwritten law; but let us rather rejoice in the prosperity of each, and in the glory which both may claim in common. I feel justly proud that my country sprang from so great and glorious a country as Great Britain."
At the end of the day, a brief farewell was given by Bro. Nasmith, a former Senator of Oregon. He said: "A people speaking the language of Shakespeare, Milton, Locke, and Bacon, and drawing their inspiration of Liberty from the Magna Carta, in which we claim equal rights with you, should never be divided."
As the ship sailed out, the visitors' band played "God Save the Queen," and the Victoria Band replied with "Hall Columbia," and those on the ship and those on shore waved salutations until distance dimmed their forms.
Unfortunately, this year that gave such a gleam of sunshine to visitors and hosts alike, a few months later overcast with shadowed gloom the hearts of thousands, for the Pacific, outward bound from Victoria, went down off Cape Flattery at 10:00 o'clock on the night of November 4th, 1875, with over three hundred men, women and children on board. A sail vessel, the Orpheus, had struck her a glancing blow amidships, and the doomed vessel sank in ten minutes; but the Orpheus continued on her way without ever attempting to save any of the victims, although the night was clear and the sea comparatively calm. The only survivors were Neil Henley, a quartermaster, and Henry T. Jelly, a C.P.R. survey man from St. Thomas, Ontario. Among the lost were: J. H. Sullivan, Gold Commissioner from the Omineca; Captain Otis Parsons and his wife, Cal Mandeville and other members of the Mandeville family, well known in the theatrical world; also, Sewell Prescott Moody. A month after the disaster, a state-room stanchion was found on the beach below Beacon Hill, with this brief message: "All lost S. P. Moody."
Mr. Secretan, of the C.P.R., said the bodies were recovered by all the British and American craft available, and laid out reverently in the City Hall for identification. He told of the heart-rending sight and of the anguish of the bereaved. The thought of it saddens the soul and we wish that it had not been. According to the enquiry, there were grave doubts as to whether or not the ramming of the Pacific had been accidental; but, whether by design, or by decree of Fate, the Orpheus was wrecked a few hours later. There appears to be no record as to what view the Insurance Company took of the disaster. The Pacific had been condemned, and was taken off the service in 1872, but was brought back during the Cassiar gold excitement. Well did Virgil say: "O accursed hunger of gold, to what dost thou not compel human hearts!"
When we reflect on the countless lines of circumstance, many of them emanating in a remote past, that had to centre or cross at a particular point of time on that fatal night, we must surely realize that all the teachings of Freemasonry must continually be directed towards strengthening faith in the Divine, in order that man's work, whether in the erection of an edifice or in the building of a ship, or even in the performance of bis daily tasks, may be marked by honesty and sincerity of purpose, in order that disasters may be avoided or reduced to a minimum; and that man's resolution may be steeled against the soul-destroying power of gold, and that the heart of man may be transformed by that love which shall fortify his soul against the dark inscrutable mystery of Death!
M.W. Bro. Frederick Williams
Frederick Williams was the third Grand Master. He was elected at the Fifth Annual Communication of Grand Lodge, held on the 19th, 22nd and 24th of February, 1876, at Victoria.
During his first year of office, he visited every Lodge except Cariboo, a report of which was given by W. Bro. Jonathan Nutt. On September 12th, be went to New Westminster to visit Union Lodge, but he was informed that there would be no meeting as there was smallpox in the building. On the following day, he went to Burrard Inlet to visit Mount Hermon, but, as all the members were employed in the lumber business, and the sawmills were running night and day, not many could meet him, but he said: "I spent a pleasant evening in their handsome Lodge Room, and was gratified to find the Lodge in perfect harmony, and financially strong. "
The next day, he went back to New Westminster and held an informal meeting in Good Templars'Hall. He said: "This Lodge has suffered much from mismanagement and discord in the past, and circumstances even now are anything but conducive to harmony." The Grand Lodge Officers for the Masonic Year 1877-1878 were: M.W. Bro. Frederick Williams, G.M.; R.W. Bro. Eli Harrison, D.G.M.; R,W. Bro. J. G. Vintner, S.G.W.; R.W. Bro. C. M. Chambers, J.G.W.; M. W. Waitt, Grand Treasurer; Eli Harrison, Grand Secretary; P. J. Hall, Grand Tyler. The Grand Lodge was closed on February 19th, 1877, thus concluding the Sixth Annual Communication.
Building of the Masonic Temple
One of the very important projects of the year 1877 was the building of a Masonic Temple. The plans were submitted on October 20th, 1877, and that of Bro. Teague was accepted. On December 22nd of that year tenders were accepted as follows:
|W. E. Wright||stone and brick work||$4,500.00|
|John Bennett||carpenter work||2,600.00|
|T. R. Mitchell||painting||328.00|
Total for the Building $8,428.00
The two lots are 120 feet wide and 1 20 feet long, and cost $ 1,750.00. The Building is 49 feet by 67 feet, and is situated on the corner of Douglas and Fisgard Streets. The Lodge room is 30 feet wide, 57 feet long and 27 feet 6 inches high. The building is just opposite to the Hudson's Bay Company's Store, and faces on Fisgard Street. To finance the building 500 Shares were issued at $20.00 each. Victoria Lodge subscribed $1,400. 00; Vancouver Lodge, $500.00; and Columbia Royal Arch Chapter, $300.00. The Grand Master, in his Report, said that the Brethren of the Jurisdiction mourned the loss of M.W. Bro. Robert Burnaby, who died on January 12th, 1878, in Leicester, England, where he had gone for the benefit of his health.
The Grand Master said: "Grief and mourning fill our hearts. His life had been devoted to the happiness of his fellow men, and he died as he had lived, an honoured member of an Order which he loved." The Committee on the Grand Master's Address expressed regret at the loss of M.W. Bro. Burnaby, "whom the members of the Craft might well regard as the brightest ornament in the history of Freemasonry in this Jurisdiction." The Grand Master in his address noted that Victoria Lodge, No. 1, and British Columbia Lodge, No. 5, united to form Victoria-Columbia Lodge, No. 1, and he had installed the officers on April 3rd, 1877. Also, Vancouver Lodge, No. 2, and Quadra Lodge, No. 8, united to form Vancouver and Quadra Lodge, No. 2. He had installed the officers on May 16th, 1877. In concluding his address, the Grand Master said: "May God, Who protected our fathers in ages gone, Who is our shield for the present, and our hope for the future, guide, guard and protect us in the work which we have undertaken, until its termination shall unite the whole human family in indissoluble bonds of sympathy and love." The Board of General Purposes reported: "The Annual Communication of Grand Lodge shall be holden in the City of Victoria on the Saturday in June immediately preceding St. John's Day in each year, provided that the next Annual Communication shall be held in June, 1879. The Report was adopted.
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M.W. Bro. Eli Harrison
Eli Harrison, a member of Vancouver and Quadra Lodge, No. 2, was elected Grand Master at the Seventh Annual Communication, held in Victoria on February 16th and 18th, 1878.
On April 22nd of that year he laid the Corner Stone of the Temple, and he consecrated it on October 18th, in the presence of a distinguished company of some five hundred people, including representatives of the Judiciary, the Clergy, the Provincial Government, and Freemasons of many sister Jurisdictions. In the conclusion of an eloquent address, the Grand Master said:
We ought to trust God, and obey the Moral Law, to be charitable, to be just, upright and honourable. We are taught temperance, prudence, fortitude, and to conform to the law of the land. We are taught lessons of virtue from our working tools, and sublime lessons from our ritual. Genuine manhood is our aim; and, if a brother be but faithful to the cause he has espoused, most certainly he will be true to himself, to his fellow-men, to his country and to his God.
The whole Craft mourned the passing of the Deputy Grand Master, R.W. Brother James Gordon Vintner, in the prime of his manhood. The funeral was on February 8th, 1879, and it was conducted by Vancouver and Quadra Lodge. The Grand Master stated that recognition had been accorded to the Grand Lodge by more than sixty Jurisdictions, yet no communication was received from the Grand Lodge of Scotland; but the Grand Lodge of England, after due consideration, had acknowledged this Grand Lodge, and, by request, had returned the Charters to the Lodges formerly ander its jurisdiction.
At the Annual Communication of 1879, recognition was withdrawn from the Grand Orient of France, by resolution of R.W. Bro. Cornelius Thorne and V.W. Bro. H. H. Long, Grand Chaplain, as follows:
"Resolved that this Grand Lodge of British Columbia deeply regrets that the Grand Orient of France has departed from the ancient Landmarks of the Craft by erasing from her Constitution, and ignoring the name of God, and by not requiring a belief in the Deity as a prerequisite for initiation, and further, does hereby express its indignation at the course pursued by the Grand Orient, and now severs all relations that have heretofore existed between this Grand Lodge and the said Grand Orient, until such time as she shall acknowledge the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and otherwise act and abide by the ancient usage of the Honourable Fraternity to the satisfaction of the Grand Lodge of England and of other Grand Lodges."
At the Ninth Annual Communication, on June 19th and 21st, 1880, at Victoria, the Grand Master gave particular attention to Charity. He said: three of every four persons applying for relief were not entitled to it as members. Of those assisted that year, one had paid no dues for twenty years; another had paid no dues for nine years; and another had paid no dues for seven years. Notwithstanding this, the common ties of humanity demanded that they should receive relief. Some of the recipients were from France; some from the West Indies; and some from New Brunswick. He noted that more relief was given by private persons than by others. He expressed indebtedness to Joseph Spratt, shipowner, and to Captain Rudlin for passage and care of the sick while travelling. He thought care should be taken before suspending members for non-payment of dues, as many who appeared to be comfortably provided for needed our sympathy and forbearance.
At the Ninth Annual Communication, June 16th and 18th, 1881, at Victoria, the Grand Master expressed disappointment that no new Lodges had been formed, but he noted that, while so many people had left the Province, the Lodges had increased in wealth, and had not diminished in the number of members.
The Grand Master looked upon Charity as the groundwork of the Order, and hoped he would always tolerate the poor and upright of every race and religion, for without such toleration universal brotherhood is impossible. He said every Brother should interest himself in Charity and Benevolence. and thus bring joy to the sorrowful, comfort to the wretched, relief to the destitute, and consolation to the troubled. He said:
I have endeavoured to perform my work in accordance with the ancient landmarks of the Craft. My desire has been to avoid giving offence to anyone; and at the same time not to swerve from the path of rectitude. I pray the Great Architect of the Universe to continue to preside over our Temple: and, under his protection, may we always perform our duties with fervency and zeal.
W. Bro. J. Spencer Thompson died on December 21st, 1880. Vancouver and Quadra Lodge conducted the funeral. In 1861, W. Bro. Thompson was a member of the Committee to discuss with Governor Douglas the finishing of the Cariboo Road, and he was also a member of the Committee sent to discuss the question of granting representative Government to the Colony. In 1871, he represented the Cariboo in the Dominion Parliament.
The Tenth Annual Communication was held in Victoria. A Warrant was granted to Cascade Lodge, No. 10, at Yale, then the construction centre of the railway from Priory's Bar to Port Moody, but before the Lodge could be formed, Yale was destroyed by fire, and the Masonic Hall with most of its contents was burned. The Grand Lodge arranged for a re-issue of the Charter, if a sufficient number of members could be found to re-establish the Lodge, but the Construction Centre was moved from Yale, and with it went the hopes of establishing a Lodge.
M.W. Bro. C. M. Chambers
M.W. Bro. Coote Mulloy Chambers was Grand Master for 1881–1882, but his year was one of apparent inactivity. In Quebec, Elgin Lodge, to which Dr. Powell had belonged, King Solomon Lodge and Argyle Lodge, formerly under the Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, became constituents of the Grand Lodge of Quebec on January 27th, 1881.
On July 2nd, 1881, President Garfield was shot by an assassin, and died at Elberon, September 19th, 1881. On July 21st of that year, Dr. Albert Gallatin Mackey died. He was mourned by the whole Masonic world.
The Eleventh Annual Communication was held at Victoria, June 17th, 1882. M.W. Bro. Coote M. Chambers ruled: "That to confer the honour of Past Master on any Brother who had not been duly elected as Master of his Lodge would be at variance with the Ancient Landmarks."
At this Grand Lodge Communication, the rank of Past Senior Grand Warden was conferred on Bro. E. Crow Baker.
There was some trouble in Utah over the exclusion of Mormons from the Craft, according to the report of the Grand Representative, V.W. Bro. Heisterman. The Lodges concerned claimed that the chief tenet of the Mormon Church is polygamy, which is contrary to United States Law, whereas Freemasonry must be loyal to the Government, and yield a ready obedience to all its laws.
The Grand Lodge was closed on June 20th, 1882, at Victoria.
M.W. Bro. Henry Brown
The Grand Master of 1882–1883 was M.W. Bro. Henry Brown. One of the most important events of his year was the visit of the Governor-General the Marquis of Lorne, and his Royal Consort, the princess Louise, the daughter of Queen Victoria. The vice-regal visit was of very great importance to British subjects in the Province, and especially to residents of Victoria.
The Steamer Grappler was burned on April 29th, 1883, and Bro. Sid-Thomas Franklyn died bravely at his post in his endeavour to save the lives of those on board.
The Brethren also mourned the passing of R.W. Bro. Ebenezer Brown, P.G.W., and of Phillip J. Hill, Grand Tyler.
Fraternal sympathy was extended to the Grand Lodges of Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois, where devastating floods had taken dread toll of lives and property of Masonic brethren and their fellow citizens, for disaster makes a brotherhood of all sufferers, even of those not bound together by Masonic ties.
The Twelfth Annual Communication, commencing on June 23rd, 1883, was held in New Westminster, and it was the first Annual Communication to be held outside of the City of Victoria. The Grand Master in his address said he had received no application from the Yale Brethren for a re-issue of the Charter, provision for which had been made at the last meeting of Grand Lodge, but he recommended that the time be extended for another year, in order that the Brethren of Yale might take it up again without further expense, if they should be in a position to do so. Of the fifteen petitioners, only two had affiliated with other Lodges. The Grand Committee of the Grand Lodge of Scotland had recommended that recognition be accorded to the Grand Lodge of British Columbia, and that our representative near that Grand Lodge be R.W. Bro. Savage, Provincial Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Aberdeen. The Grand Master had issued a Commission to R.W. Bro. Savage upon receiving notice of the recommendation.
The Grand Master reminded the Brethren that the giving of pecuniary aid is not the only form of charity we are called upon to exercise, but there are other ways, such as visiting the sick, lending a helping hand to an erring brother, and throwing the mantle of charity over the faults of others. In conclusion, he said: "Let me assure you that I will return to the ranks, a willing worker, in the cause of Freemasonry, ever ready to perform any duty that may fall to my lot, to the best of my ability."
The Grand Chaplain spoke from the text: "We are members one of another." Ephesians, 4, 25. He said: "We owe our happiness in a large measure to the presence of others. We justly glory in our civilization, but it is the product of the workers of all time. Our religious liberties have flowed to us in streams of human blood. We speak of being independent. It is a vain boast. We are members one of another."
The following principal officers were installed: M.W. Bro. Edgar Crow Baker, Grand Master; R.W. Bro. Thomas Trounce, D.G.M.; R.W. Bro. Robert Kelly, S.G.W.; R. W. Bro. Robert Beaven, J.G.W,; V.W. Bro. M. W. Waitt, Grand Treasurer; V.W. Bro. A. R. Milne,, Grand Secretary; V.W. Bro. R. H. Smith, Grand Chaplain: and Bro. W. Trickey, Grand Tyler. The Grand Lodge was closed June 24th, 1883.
M.W. Bro. E. Crow Baker
M.W. Bro. Edgar Crow Baker, Grand Master for the Masonic year 1883–1884, had served as Grand Secretary during the previous four years. He had retired from the Navy in 1872. He was accountant at Halifax for the Intercolonial Railway. He came to British Columbia in 1874, and for three years he was accountant at Hastings Mill, and for the next three years he was employed in the Finance Department in Victoria by the Provincial Government. He organized the pilotage system in Victoria and the Esquimalt Telephone System, and was elected to the Dominion Parliament in 1882, and retired in 1889. The Grand Master had affiliated with Victoria-Columbia Lodge, and was Master in 1880. He was absent on Parliamentary duty for a great part of the year, but he had a very capable Grand Secretary and a very faithful Deputy Grand Master. At a special Communication of Grand Lodge on July 28th, 1883, the Grand Master laid the Corner Stone of the British Columbia Protestant Orphans' Home in Victoria. He was assisted by Grand Lodge Officers and by Victoria Lodges and members of the Victoria Royal Arch Chapter. The Mayor and Council also attended. The President of the Home, Bro. A. A. Green, presented the silver trowel, and Bro. George Frye, on behalf of the Masons of Victoria, handed to the Grand Master, for the Home, a purse of $250.00; and the Brethren marched around the Stone and deposited thereon their contributions, totalling $372.40.
The Oration was given by Senator Macdonald; the closing prayer was offered by Bishop Cridge, and the benediction pronounced by Rev. R. H. Smith, the Grand Chaplain.
We regret to say that V.W. Bro. Smith passed away on November 12th of that year, just ten days after the death of his wife. The sympathy of the whole jurisdiction was felt for the three daughters, thus sorely bereaved of both parents.
The Grand Master said that Very Worshipful Bro. Smith had left an invaluable legacy in the example of Virtue and Piety, which his life so eminently exhibited. The funeral was conducted by Vancouver and Quadra Lodge.
The Brethren of Calgary wished to apply for a Charter, but eventually received their Charter from the Grand Lodge of Manitoba. The Lodge was named Bow River. One of the Charter Members, Bro. William McGillivray, became a charter member of Pacific No. 16, Mission City.
The Thirteenth Annual Communication was held at Nanaimo commencing on June 21st, 1884. The attendance was small, as a loss of ten days was necessary for brethren from the mainland, and many could not afford to lose so much time from business affairs.
The Grand Master said that in all their deliberations they should endeavour to keep that amity of feeling and sentiment which should characterize all our intercourse as true Freemasons; and that we should carefully scrutinize the character of every candidate for the mysteries. The strictest examination should be made into the life and character of applicants. No one should ever pass the portal of our mystic edifice, nor enter the Middle Chamber, until be has been fully and duly prepared. He also tried to impress upon them the great necessity of obedience to our motto: "Aude, Vide, Tace." On July 12th, 1884, Bro. Albert Pike, a distinguished Freemason, visited Victoria, and was welcomed by M.W. Bro. Baker and the Grand Lodge Officers. He was accompanied by many distinguished and high ranking Brethren from the United States. On the following evening, Bro. Pike delivered an eloquent address on "The Symbolism of Our Order." Later, at the banquet table, there were numerous responses by the Brethren. The Grand Master said their only regret was the shortness of their stay. The Grand Master said: "I trust the day is not far distant when the uniform and salutary, though silent and unseen influences of our principles will effectively silence the tongue of calumny and weaken, if not forever extinguish, the unjustifiable rancour and hatred of enemies."
Recognition was accorded to the Grand Lodge of Victoria, organized in Melbourne, July 2nd, 1883, with 19 Lodges, of which 11 were Irish, 6 Scottish, and 2 were English.
R.W. Bro. Thomas Trounce
The Grand Master said that he could not attend the Fourteenth Annual Communication on June 20th and 21st, 1885, R.W. Bro. Trounce, therefore, presided. The Grand Master wrote: "Freemasonry meets with the virtuous of every persuasion, in the firm and pleasing bonds of fraternal love, and all are taught to view the errors of mankind, with civil compassion and to strive of our own conduct to demonstrate the superior quality of our faith, which we ourselves profess to admire, so that Freemasonry may be, in reality, what we allege it to be: the centre of union between good men and true, and the happy means of conciliating friendship among those who must otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance." Bro. John Buie reported the laying of the Corner Stone of the Episcopal Church at Surrey on August 6th, 1 884, and that group photographs had been taken by Bishop Sillitoe.
The Deputy Grand Master said: "In entering upon our business, let us divest our minds of all selfish considerations, and as true Freemasons, enter upon the performance of our labours with a steady purpose to promote the good of our Order, that the work may be completed in such a manner that it may redound to our credit as Freemasons, thereby gaining the approval of the Supreme Grand Master, Who is above all, Whose judgments are always perfect, and to Whose guidance and approval all Freemasons look."
The coming year heralded the dawn of progress for British Columbia, and especially for Freemasons here. The progress was primarily due to the reaction of the tide of industry that had receded with the decline of gold production and the failure of the fur market in Europe, as the demand for beaver skins, the staple article of the Fur Trade, had ceased, especially as beaver hats had gone out of style.
Kamloops Lodge, No. 10
Confederation had linked the Prairie Provinces with the Canadas and the Maritimes, and the long stretch of intervening prairie had been linked with the Pacific Province by the steel bands of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Towns had come into being with the coming of the railway, and new life was added to the older towns and settlements. Masonic development needed no forcing. In each growing settlement there were Freemasons, and when a sufficient number could be found, usually a meeting was held and a movement begun for the formation of a Lodge. Since the formation of the Grand Lodge, the most important Masonic event was the founding of Kamloops Lodge, No. 10.
Kamloops was a fur trading post in the early days, and it attained great importance after the coming of the railway. It is the commercial centre of the Southern Dry Belt. The Lodge was formed by railwaymen and business men of the city, but the leader was a clergyman, the Rev. Darrall R. W. Horlock, who came to British Columbia in 1862, and was resident at Yale during the time of its prosperity. Afterwards, he was sent to Kamloops by Bishop Sillitoe; and, from that time until his return to England, he was closely associated with Freemasonry in this Jurisdiction. Kamloops Lodge was approved by Union Lodge, No. 9, in 1885. After receiving its dispensation, the first meeting was held January 5th, 1886. There does not appear to have been any formal institution.
Another event of great importance was the unanimous decision of Mount Hermon Lodge, on February 20th, 1886, to move across the district to Vancouver. Evidently the Brethren came a little too soon, for Vancouver was destroyed by fire that year, on June 13th, and Mount Hermon Lodge lost its regalia and other Lodge effects.
The Fifteenth Annual Communication was held in Victoria on June 19th, 1886. M.W. Bro. Trounce commented on the prosperous condition of the Craft. He was particularly pleased with Kamloops Lodge, for by the end of April it had initiated five new members, received four by affiliation, and had two applications on hand. With reference to his own work, the Grand Master said:
Permit me to say that, although we have not been able to see eye to eye in all matters, I do claim that, in all my Masonic life, my guiding thought has been, above all other considerations, to maintain the honour and integrity of our beloved Order, notwithstanding there may have been times of friction in some matters of rulings, I can conscientiously say that I have been guided by a feeling of duty to the Craft, based on the solemnity of my obligation, to preserve the Landmarks of our Order, and to maintain the ancient usages and constitutions on which I was obligated.
This would appear to indicate that M.W. Bro. Baker's reference to some of the lessons in the Ancient Charges, and his admonitions against any change in the Landmarks were carefully considered, and that the Grand Master had carried out with some determination his predecessors' ideas in these matters. The Committee expressed regret that the Grand Master had not been able to visit the Lodges, because of illness in his family, but while they expressed fraternal sympathy, they ventured to hope that his successor would be able to carry out in the ensuing year his evident desire in this respect.
By resolution of Grand Lodge, a Warrant was granted to Kamloops Lodge, No. 10, Kamloops. Three trustees were appointed to increase the scope and efficiency of the Benevolent Fund. Grand Lodge also voted Five Hundred Dollars to purchase regalia to replace that lost by Mount Hermon Lodge in the Vancouver fire. Grand Lodge closed June 21st, 1886, at Victoria.
M.W. Bro. William Dalby
The Grand Master for 1886–1887 was William Dalby, of Vancouver and Quadra Lodge, which he had joined in 1867 by affiliation and of which he was Master of 1870. His wife was a sister of Sewell Moody. On July 13th, 1886, be welcomed to Victoria Hon. Thomas White, a distinguished member of Parliament. The Deputy Grand Master said be would always remember his reception of them, which was worthy of a statesman and a Freemason. It was also the Grand Master's privilege to welcome Sir John A. Macdonald, Prime Minister of Canada and Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of England. He received them cordially, and his reply to the address was courteous and appreciative and bore the marks of the great statesman.
The Grand Master asked W. Bro. Angus McKeown to constitute Kamloops Lodge No. 10, which he did on November 7th, 1886. The Grand Master said that the Consecration and Installation were completed to the satisfaction of Kamloops Lodge, and that it was done in a very able and satisfactory manner, as was all Masonic work performed by Bro. McKeown. George Anthony Walkem, a young lawyer who affiliated with Kamloops Lodge, became Premier of British Columbia; and another young lawyer, William Ward Spinks, who joined by initiation, became a County Court Judge, and also he was the author of Tales of the British Columbia Frontier. Henry John Cambie, another member, was a Civil Engineer, and took a leading part in the construction of the C.P.R. Camble Street, Vancouver, was named for him.
Mountain Lodge, No. 11
The Grand Master issued a dispensation to Mountain Lodge, Donald. It was named for Donald Smith, afterwards Lord Strathcona. The Lodge was instituted by R.W. Bro. Horlock, assisted by Dr. Sibree Clarke. It was the first Lodge in this Jurisdiction to use the Canadian Work. When the construction centre moved from Donald, Mountain Lodge moved to Golden. On May 4th, 1887, there was a terrible calamity at Nanaimo, an explosion in a coal mine, in which four brethren lost their lives. Bro. Samuel Hudson, hearing of the disaster, hastened from Wellington, organized a rescue party and went down into the mine, but having ventured too far, he was caught by the deadly afterdamp. He was brought to the surface but all attempts to resuscitate him proved unavailing. The Grand Master expressed sympathy to Ashlar Lodge and to the bereaved, and also to the citizens of Nanaimo, and he said: "Let us, my brethren, practise that greatest of all virtues, Charity, and give to those who need, as the Lord has prospered us. Thus we may truly honour the names of our brethren, who so nobly perished, and for whom we grieve: let us shelter those who were dependent on them and who were bound to them by ties of love and kindred."
The Grand Lodge met at Nanaimo on June 18th, 1887. The Grand Master said in his address: "While it is desirable that we should have as many members as possible, I have always believed in the old axiom: that it is better to have good men rejected than to have one bad man elected, for we have learned by experience that a troublesome man will cause so much dissension in a Lodge in one night that it will take months to replace the good feeling and unity of purpose that should at all times exist." He thought that something should be done about the Benevolent Fund. He said: "It is acknowledged the world over that Charity in its true sense is the source of our strength. The dispensing of charity is one of the fundamental tenets of Freemasonry; and when a strange brother from a strange land applies to us for charity, we should have our Fund in such shape that we can immediately render the relief sought.
The Grand Lodge arranged that all money paid into the Fund after December 31st, 1879, with interest at five per cent, should be equally divided amongst the two Victoria lodges and Mount Hermon Lodge, and that all money paid in previous to that time should remain in a Fund of Benevolence. This was agreed to, and a Committee was appointed to draft rules for the government of the Fund. The Grand Master visited Victoria-Columbia and Vancouver and Quadra Lodges. He attended the funeral of R.W. Bro. Hughes, who died on November 8th, and the funeral was arranged for the following day. Interment took place at New Westminster. He also presided at the installation of Victoria-Columbia and Vancouver and Quadra Lodges. He did not visit Cariboo Lodge because of the distance and the expense to the Grand Lodge. He had arranged to visit Mount Hermon Lodge and to dedicate the Hall, but was unable to get transportation, as the Princess Louise had to cancel the Vancouver sailing.
M.W. Bro. A. R. Milne
The Grand Master for the Masonic year 1887–1888 was M.W. Bro. Alexander Roland Milne, who was born in Morayshire, Scotland, on December 29th, 1839. He received his higher education in Marichal College, Aberdeen. The family came to Ontario in 1855, and A. R. Milne came to British Columbia in 1864, and after some time in the Cariboo, he came to Victoria and worked in the Customs Department. He was appointed appraiser in 1882 and Collector in 1890. He rendered valuable service in the Behring Sea Seal Arbitration; he prepared and presented the case, and was made a Companion of St. Michael and St. George.
He was a member of Pythagoras Lodge, Meaford, Ontario. He affiliated with Vancouver and Quadra, and was Worshipful Master in 1882.
On August 27th, 1887, he laid the Corner Stone of the Masonic Temple in New Westminster. The Architect was George Grant and the Contractor was Henry Hoy. In his address, the Grand Master said:
"The Master Mason may perform his work never so well; the apprentice and craftsman may labour in subordination to his authority: the Masonic walls may rise in all their solid strength; the costly jewels of our work may adorn the various chambers; the fire may be kindled upon the inner altars; and the entrances may be well guarded: but all will be in vain unless there is a deeper, underlying foundation of Masonic love and Masonic unity. With that beneath the material foundation, the Temple is indeed secure and indestructible. The solid foundations of the Globe have need of no more permanent Corner Stone than that structure under whose deep bases repose Truth, Charity and Brotherly Love.
On November 22nd, 1887, Dr. Sibree Clarke constituted Mountain Lodge, at Donald, and installed the officers. He was assisted by Canon Cooper. Dr. Robert Morris, well known as poet laureate of Freemasonry, was welcomed by Grand Master Milne at a joint meeting of Victoria Lodges. He gave a very interesting and instructive address on "The Symbolism of Freemasonry." He also recited a number of his shorter poems; and he wrote a poem in honour of the Grand Master, whose guest he was while in Victoria.
In accordance with the Grand Lodge Resolution, a monument was erected to the Memory of Samuel Hudson; and the Grand Master, by request, unveiled it at Nanaimo on May 5th, 1888, in the presence of his principal officers and the Freemasons and citizens of Nanaimo and visiting Brethren. He recalled the terrible calamity of the previous year, which had overwhelmed in death some of their bravest and most honoured citizens. He said:
Our dead are not forgotten; the memory of them shall not perish. May this monument become a centre of interest and local pride, a monument to the generosity, wisdom and gratitude of the living to the devotion and sacrifice of the dead.
Who that believes in the immortality of the soul, who that has faith in a brighter world, who that looks beyond the horizon of Time to a reunion with the good and the pure, does not value such a tribute, and aspire by his devotion and charity, and love of humanity, to such a Crown upon the efforts of his life?
The last honours are paid to the dead, but the life he left us is here to admonish us by its speech that want and suffering have not died, that the widow and the orphan remain, that man has yet need of charity, that oppression and wrong hold their carnivals, and that the vigils of Liberty and Right yet demand the constancy of their watchmen.
At the dedication of the Temple in New Westminster on June 23rd, 1888, the Grand Master said:
We congratulate you, my Brethren, upon the possession of this new and beautiful Temple, the finest and most complete in the Province, a Masonic home, so admirably adapted to the necessities and conveniences of your Lodge duties and associations. We commend your wisdom in the conception and plan, your zeal in constructing, completing, ornamenting, and finishing. We recognize in its erection your devotion to Freemasonry, your fidelity to the interests of Union Lodge, and your allegiance to the Grand Lodge.
You have put your house in order, and dedicated it to high and holy purposes. See that those purposes are well fulfilled. Let this be your epoch from which to date a generation of Masonic excellence. Let each resolve to be more attentive, more active, more solicitous to become not only a brighter, but a better Freemason.
The Seventeenth Annual Communication of Grand Lodge was opened at New Westminster at 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon of June 23rd, 1888. The Grand Master said, in opening his address: "We meet under auspices the most cheering, under circumstances the most favouring, and it becomes us to acknowledge that protecting Providence that has upheld and sustained us. May we now ever look to Him for support and guidance."
All Freemasons throughout the Jurisdiction were sorry to hear of the passing of Jonathan Nutt, Past Senior Grand Warden, and first Worshipful Master of Cariboo Lodge. The Grand Master said: "He was a patient sufferer, and faithful and zealous in the cause of Masonry. His early labours during the pioneer days of our Province will ever be remembered and his memory cherished." As the Grand Secretary, V.W. Bro. Neufelder, was about to leave the Colony, the Grand Lodge, in accordance with the desire of the Grand Master, conferred upon him the Honorary rank of Past Grand Senior Warden in recognition of his valuable services. Also, by request of Union Lodge, the rank of Past Grand Treasurer was conferred upon Benjamin Douglas, who, for many years, had been treasurer of Union Lodge.
The Grand Master welcomed the Honourable Thomas White, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada in Ontario, and a Federal Cabinet Minister. He regretted to announce his death on April 21st of that year. He also regretted to report the explosion of a coal mine at North Wellington on January 25th last. He said our deepest sympathy went out to the bereaved and our prayers to the throne of Grace. A dispensation was issued to Cascade Lodge on May 11th, 1888, and a dispensation to Spallumcheen Lodge on June 20th, 1888.
On May 22nd, 1888, Right Rev. Bishop A, W. Sillitoe laid the Corner Stone of the Episcopal Church at Kamloops. The Jurisdiction was divided into four Districts, namely: Vancouver Island, New Westminster, Yale Kootenay, and Cariboo. The Grand Chaplain, V.W. Bro. Canon Cooper, spoke from the 133rd Psalm:
Behold how good and how pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity.
He said: "Such unity can only be obtained by the faithful and searching reformation of each community by itself and for itself, and by the returning of each and all to the simplicity and purity of the Faith that was once delivered to the Saints.