Grand Lodge of PEI History
The goal of having a standard Ritual within the Jurisdiction was the dream of several Grand Masters including the first, M.W.Bro. John Yeo. In his first Address to the Grand Lodge he suggested “the necessity of taking steps for the adoption of uniform ritual and work in the subordinate Lodges …” (Proceedings, February 16-19, 1876, p.7). Accordingly a Committee on Ritual was appointed. At the next Quarterly Communication the Grand Lodge resolved that “the Ritual now used by the M.W. Grand Lodge of New Brunswick be adopted by this Grand Lodge” (Proceedings, May 12, 1876, unpaged). That decision was the closest the Grand Lodge has come to enforcing uniformity. But local traditions and personal preferences combined through the years to continue to cause a diversity of usages that is also not uncommon elsewhere, and is perhaps part of the strength and pattern of this Grand Lodge.
In a further effort to have uniformity in the work the Grand Lodge encouraged Craft Lodges to use the services of the Grand Lecturer. R.W.Bro. George W. Wakeford held the Office for many years and gave yeoman service to the duties thereof. In his 1888 Report to Grand Lodge, he lamented that not much could be done with any Lodge without spending two or three days with the members to bring forth the beauty of the Ritual. Quoting an ancient ritualist he encouraged Lodge Officers to “speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hands, thus, but use all gently; for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness” (Proceedings, 1888, p.21).
Included in the list of ‘Unfinished Business’ following the Annual Communication in 1920 was deciding “the best means to be adopted to secure uniformity of Ritual throughout the Jurisdiction.” The Ritual Committee in 1921 recommended the “continuation” of the Webb Standard Formula Ritual (The Ritual was based on the Freemasons’ Monitor first published in 1797 by M.W.Bro. Thomas Smith Webb, 1771-1819, Past Grand Master of Rhode Island, and used today in one form or another in most American jurisdictions.) It is not known when that Ritual became the one in most widespread use here (probably for much more than a century in the form of the version encoded by the American, E.C. Cozzens), for even in 1920 the Report from the Ritual Committee was adopted only “with certain reservations.” The revised Report was not returned and was not acted upon. Sixteen years later the Grand Master appointed a Ritual Committee with a similar mandate to act on Section 78 of the Grand Lodge Constitution. The 1937-38 Committee, headed by M.W.Bro. L. M. MacKinnon, PGM of Saint Andrew’s Lodge, reported in June 1938 that “it would take at least three years” to accomplish the desires of the Grand Lodge on the issue of a uniform Ritual (Proceedings, 1938, p.52.) The Committee reviewed “the Webb work” and proposed several changes in the wording. The proposals were adopted by Grand Lodge in June 1939, but never implemented (as the Cozzens coded work continued to be used, then in the form of its 1928 edition).