Grand Lodge of PEI History
Accounts of the Masonic Picnic in 1885 have been passed down through the years as a reference point for the grand celebrations that Freemasons enjoyed in earlier times. The Daily Examinercarried a full account of the Picnic in the August 20 issue and a ‘Letter to the Editor’ in The Daily Patriot of August 21 provided details on the picnic site and its surroundings from “One Who Was There”.
The event was held on Wednesday, August 19 in Cape Traverse and was hosted by the Brethren of True Brothers Lodge No. 8. A Special Train carrying the Freemasons, their families and the Band of the 82nd Battalion from Charlottetown picked up Brethren from the northern and western reaches during stops at Hunter River, Breadalbane and Emerald. Others arrived in wagons. The “handsome ladies and gallant gentlemen’ of Cape Traverse were joined by “a large concourse of people from surrounding districts assembled to welcome the Brethren and their friends to the rising village of Capeton.” (Letter to the Editor, The Daily Patriot, August 21, 1885)
The site for the picnic was in a field on the farm of Mr. Isaac Clarke and was approximately one-half mile west of the train station. The Lansdowne Hotel at Cape Traverse Wharf was decorated for the occasion and streams of bunting extended from the Hotel to the picnic site. Bro. Alex Strang, the Junior Warden of True Brothers Lodge, was the proprietor of the Hotel. The Band led the procession of “about six hundred persons” to the site which was provided free of charge by Mr. Clarke.
Once assembled “the gentlemen began to enjoy themselves while the ladies began to prepare the luncheon.” Games such as croquet, nine pins, quoits and football were played while dancing occurred in the booths erected for that purpose. At three o’clock “all aboard” rang out and the celebrants began returning to the train station. The train arrived in Charlottetown at 7:45 p.m.. The writer of the ‘Letter to the Editor” in The Daily Patriot concluded that “to the Masonic Fraternity can be awarded the credit of having given the picnic of the summer.”
The Masonic tradition of laying the Corner Stone of a new public building dates back many centuries. The earliest record of such a ceremony in this Jurisdiction was in 1830 when the members of St. John’s Lodge No. 833 were invited to lay the Corner Stone at the opening of the new Provincial Gaol in the City. On May 16, 1843 the Brethren were summoned to the opening of the new Colonial Building (Province House) where Bro. H.W. Lobban was honoured to lay the Foundation Stone before “hundreds of onlookers”. On June 24, 1862 the Brethren of St. George’s Lodge in Georgetown paraded with a band from Charlottetown to lay the Corner Stone for the Georgetown Academy, a building that still stands in the community.
Since 1875 Grand Lodge has been assembled to share in the following Public Ceremonies where the Grand Master was invited to lay the traditional Corner Stone:
|Building||Date||Presiding Grand Master|
|Charlottetown City Hall||July1, 1887||M.W.Bro. John Yeo*|
|Summerside Methodist Church||August 3,1893||M.W.Bro. Thomas A. MacLean|
|Margate Methodist Church||June 27, 3798||M.W.Bro. Leonard Morris|
|Protestant Orphanage Mount Herbert||September 14, 1921||M.W.Bro. John MacNevin+|
|P.E.I. Hospital on Brighton Road||October 10, 1932||M.W.Bro. Robert A. Gordon^|
*Commemorative Trowel in the Lodge Room in Port Hill
+Commemorative Trowel in E.C. MacMillan Cabinet
^ Commemorative Trowel presented to Grand Lodge in 1969
Perhaps the most interesting account was the ‘private’ ceremony held in 1932 by the Freemasons from outside the Jurisdiction who were involved in rebuilding Prince Of Wales College following the fire in February. When they learned that a public event was not planned, the Brethren organized their own Masonic Ceremony to lay the Corner Stone. (Minutes, Victoria Lodge, November 7, 1932)