Grand Lodge of PEI History
A major controversy developed in the early 1950’s when Grand Lodge again attempted to authorize a single Ritual. During WWII when some Lodges experienced difficulty in getting more copies of the Cozzens edition of the Webb work, copies of a Ritual from the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia were obtained instead. In 1949 the Grand Master acknowledged that more copies of the Webb Ritual seemed unobtainable but expressed concern that the Ritual being dispensed by the Grand Secretary was not the authorized work for the Jurisdiction. The Board of General Purposes, which was being re-constituted after a lapse of several decades, was charged with studying the ritualistic requirements of the Craft Lodges and recommending appropriate steps at the next Annual Communication. In 1950 the Board of General Purposes recommended that the Nova Scotia Ritual be adopted as the Official Ritual in this Jurisdiction. Debate on the issue occurred in the several Craft Lodges over the next several months and in 1952 W.Bro. James C. Palmer of Alexandra Lodge moved to have a vote taken on the choice of Ritual for use in the Jurisdiction. After a lengthy discussion further debate was postponed until the Annual Communication in 1953. As an indication of the interest in the issue one hundred and thirty voting Brethren attended the Annual Communication in Charlottetown on June 24, 1953. There were also nineteen Proxies. The Grand Master and Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia were also in attendance. The debate was intense. M.W.Bro. Frank A. VanIderstine PGM recalled several years later in a letter to M.W.Bro. Robert A. Gordon PGM that the Brethren from Nova Scotia left the meeting and that some days later the Grand Lodge forwarded an apology to the Grand Secretary of Nova Scotia for the remarks that were directed at the guests (letterdated May 10, 1976 in VanIderstine file). The vote favoured the “Webb No. 1, 1928 edition” (Cozzens) over the Nova Scotia Ritual. By way of compromise a subsequent motion provided for any Lodge to use the “New Ritual” (Nova Scotia) under Dispensation from the Grand Master. The inconvenience and cost of obtaining a dispensation each year was soon recognized. Four Lodges applied for a Dispensation in 1954 before the requirement was changed to a one-time application to the Grand Master for permission.
Evidently somewhere around that time more copies of the Cozzens coded edition of the Webb Ritual became available, enabling Lodges favouring it to resume providing it to their new members. The late Grand Secretary, R.W.Bro. M. Earl MacDonald, told the story of an American visitor, a printer, who had solved the supply problem by volunteering to reproduce a number of copies specifically for Prince Edward Island.
In July 1957 representatives of the Grand Lodge of Prince Edward Island and the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia met in Pictou to consider areas of common interest and concern. One of the outcomes of that meeting was the commitment by Nova Scotia to continue to provide their full-English Rituals to this Grand Lodge at cost, for use by those P.E.I. Lodges that favoured it or had by then lost their former ability to use the encoded Webb work.
Responding to requests for a full-English version of the encoded Webb Ritual, Grand Lodge appointed a Special Committee in the early 1990’s. The Committee composed of V.W. Bro. George I.H. Mason PM (Chairman), Bro. David Hooper and W.Bro. Paul Burleigh PM was charged with the mammoth “faithful translation” task which, after extensive research of many rituals and international consultation, was completed in the spring of 1994. Printing of that Ritual was given bridge financing through the personal generosity of M.W.Bro. David P. MacLean, Grand Secretary.
At the time that the full-English Webb Ritual was produced, only seven Lodges were still using the Cozzens coded version, and nine had become more or less familiar with the Nova Scotia Work. (A problem frequently encountered by the latter group is that the Nova Scotia Work had gone through at least five substantial revisions during the 20th century alone, leading to some confusion between cast members using different editions.) With ready availability of the full-English Webb Ritual, several of the latter group began efforts to switch back to it.