Grand Lodge of PEI History
The Annual Communication of Grand Lodge has been held in thirteen different centres throughout the Jurisdiction during its history. The following summary shows that Charlottetown has been the destination of choice for 70% of the years:
Except for six occasions, the Annual Communication has been held in a Masonic Temple or Masonic Hall. In 1975 the One Hundredth Annual was convened at the Charlottetown Hotel and the Brethren returned there in 2000 for the One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth. In 1981 the Freemasons convened at St. John’s Anglican Church in Crapaud and four years later the One Hundred and Tenth Annual Communication was held in Westisle High School in Elmsdale. Kensington Intermediate Senior High School was the site of the Annual in 1988 and 1999.
The first quarter-century after the establishment of the Grand Lodge was a challenging period for Freemasonry in this Jurisdiction. The greatest concern was the steady exodus of Brethren from the Province. Although approximately five hundred and eighty Master Mason Degrees were conferred between 1875 and 1900, almost four hundred Demits were granted.. The total number of Freemasons in the Jurisdiction in 1898 was unchanged from 1875. Economic hard times forced many Islanders to leave home in search of better opportunities. The heavy demand for Dispensations from Grand Lodge to confer Degrees in less than the statutory time was evidence of the impact of the exodus on Freemasonry. Two Past Grand Masters were among those who left the Jurisdiction. (M.W.Bro. Ronald McMillan and M.W.Bro. Leonard Morris) Although six new Craft Lodges were chartered in the years between 1875 and 1885, two of the new Lodges lost their Charter during the same decade and Orient Lodge No. 11 in Souris became relatively inactive following a disastrous fire just four months after receiving its Charter in 1877.
It was fortunate that the Jurisdiction had the able and committed leadership of M.W.Bro. John Yeo to guide it during more than half of those difficult years. M.W.Bro. Yeo was re-elected as Grand Master thirteen times although he frequently asked to be relieved of his duties. In 1889 his request was granted and the following resolution was adopted by the Grand Lodge: “That we do hereby tender to the M.W.Bro. John Yeo PGM our heartfelt thanks for the very able manner with which he has presided over our deliberations for so long a time, with credit to himself and honor to the Fraternity.” (Proceedings, 1889, p.25) M.W.Bro. Yeo died in December 1924 at the age of ninety-one. He had been a Mason for sixty-three years. In the Legislative Assembly of this Province and later in the Parliament of Canada he served continuously for sixty-five years. Bro. John Yeo’s record of public service and dedication to Freemasonry set a standard and a pattern for all who followed.