Mizpah Lodge No. 17
A pleasant diversion for the Brethren in the summer during the Depression Years was the Masonic Picnic. The first record of a picnic was in 1935 when the event was held at Bro. J.D. MacRae’s shore on July 10. In subsequent years the picnic was held at Point Prim Lighthouse, Big Point and “at the site of the new ferry.” (July 15, 1939)
The pattern of benevolent work in Mizpah Lodge shows a smorgasbord of activity without a sustained plan or structure. The Lodge established its own Benevolent Fund in February1914 and set aside $1 annually for each member for whom Grand Lodge dues were paid. The first demand on the Fund was recorded in August 1916 after Bro. J.M. MacLeod lost his house by fire. The Lodge voted to purchase “a suit (sic) of dining room furniture not to cost more than forty dollars and not less than thirty.” The Benevolent Fund was not mentioned after 1920. A Benevolent Fund Committee was appointed annually in the 1930’s.
An annual donation to the Protestant Orphanage was the most sustained charitable work in the records of the Lodge. The first recorded donation was on December 20, 1923 when the Brethren voted to forward the collections from Divine Worship at Belfast. For almost five decades the Lodge remitted the collections from the Annual Divine Service to the Children’s Home in Mount Herbert. Following closure of the Orphanage as a Children’s Home in late 1970’s, the receipts from the Divine Worship were forwarded to the Saint Andrew’s Lodge Auction for Crippled Children.
Beginning in 1968 the Lodge contributed annually to the Walter Callow League. A donation of $10 was first noted in March 1968. The donation continued annually during the 1970’s.
In the absence of a Benevolent Fund the Lodge relied on member subscription when relief was required. The Brethren have been generous in their response when cases of fire or prolonged medical treatment have been reported. Requests for additional aid from the Grand Lodge Benevolent Fund have also been recorded.
As the membership grew following WWII the Brethren began to consider the need for a larger Lodge Room. M.W.Bro. R.E. Kemp PGM had noted the need for a larger space during his visit in 1947. The first record of a move from the Moore building was in July 1951. A Committee was appointed to meet with Eldon Branch of Legion to consider procuring a Hall. (Minutes, July 12, 1951) At the August Communication two Brethren were requested to get an estimate on the cost of a new Hall. The matter was allowed to drop and was not raised again until October 1954 when a Committee was appointed to “see Dr. MacKenzie in securing Lodge Hall and moving it to a new location.” (Minutes, October 7, 1954) Dr. David MacKenzie Sr., a native of Flat River, was married to Edith Moore, daughter of James St. Clair Moore. The family apparently viewed the building as a fire hazard near their residence and were willing to have it removed. The Minutes did not indicate that the Brethren had to pay for the building when the decision was made to move it. It was a sad irony that several years later the MacKenzie residence suffered a fire in which Dr. David MacKenzie Jr. and his wife lost their lives.