St. John’s Lodge No. 1
The Lodge wished to have Bro. Read’s sermon printed for distribution. The request was granted but the action was delayed because the sermon was ‘in note form’. When the Committee presented the published copy in July 1869, Bro. Read’s sermon of December 27, 1868 was also included. The cost of printing fifty copies at Bremner Bros. was £9 / – / 6 / The Secretary was instructed to provide one copy for each Worshipful Master in the Jurisdiction and to send a copy to the Provincial Grand Master of Nova Scotia. Members could purchase at three pence per copy. (A copy of the publication was discovered in storage at Orient Lodge Room during this research project) Bro. Read was raised on March 22, 1860 in King Hiram Lodge while he was serving as Archdeacon of the Anglican Church in St. Eleanor’s. He was transferred to Milton and affiliated with St. John’s Lodge in February, 1869. King Hiram Lodge honoured Bro. Read in March, 1869.
In 1869 an Independent Grand Lodge was formed in Nova Scotia. M.W.Bro. Alexander Keith was elected Grand Master and promptly resigned as Grand Master of the former Provincial Grand Lodge. St. John’s Lodge was thus left without a convenient link with the United Grand Lodge of England. Four of the seven Craft Lodges on the Island (English Registry) petitioned the United Grand Lodge to appoint a District Grand Master for the Island. On January 24, 1871 a Communication from the Grand Secretary announced that W.Bro. Adam Murray PM of St. John’s Lodge had been appointed.
The first meeting called to consider the advisability of establishing an independent Grand Lodge of Prince Edward Island was held in the St. John’s Lodge Room on October 31, 1874. When the delegates from the Craft Lodges met in Charlottetown for two days in June 1875 to organize the Grand Lodge and to elect and install the first Officers, St. John’s hosted the meeting on the first day (June 23). On June 24 the Brethren met in Victoria Lodge where the first slate of Officers was installed. Five members of St. John’s Lodge were elected to Office:
|R.W.Bro. Thomas A. MacLean||Deputy Grand Master|
|V.W.Bro. Adam Murray||Grand Lecturer|
|V.W.Bro. J. Herbert Read||Grand Chaplain|
|V.W.Bro. A. Newton Large||Grand Director of Ceremonies|
|W.Bro. Alexander W.S. Smythe||Grand Organist|
R.W.Bro. G.W.Wakeford has argued in his writings that St. John’s Lodge would have been better off if the District Grand Lodge system as provided for in Bro. Murray’s Commission of 1869 had been fully implemented rather than the independent Grand Lodge. He showed that with the defined jurisdictions that were implemented provincially in 1875 growth in St. John’s Lodge slowed dramatically. In the period 1854-1875 the Lodge conferred seven hundred and three degrees. In the period 1875-1897 the number of Degrees dropped to one hundred and seventy five. (Wakeford, 1897 History, unpaged)
In 1878 St. John’s Lodge vacated its Lodge Room in Large’s Hall and moved into the Masonic Hall on Water Street as a joint tenant with Victoria Lodge. Thus began the uninterrupted partnership of the two Lodges in sharing a Lodge Room. The Lodge held its first Communication in the new Lodge Room on June 11, 1878. W.Bro. George Wakeford was Worshipful Master. King Solomon Lodge No. 9 also used the Lodge Room until its Charter was surrendered in 1883. St. John’s Lodge paid $215 for a one-third claim in the furnishings. The furniture in the old Lodge Room was valued at $148. Two Masonic Charts were sold to Zetland Lodge No. 7 for $10 in 1881. (The Charts are still displayed in the Lodge Room in Alberton) The Pedestals were sold to Victoria Lodge for $52. Wildy Lodge of Oddfellows rented Large’s Hall for the balance of the lease.
The custom of installing the Lodge Officers during the Festival of St. John the Evangelist on December 27 was noted in the first available Minutes (1827) and was continued until the 1990’s. The tradition of holding a Joint Installation with Victoria Lodge No. 1 began in 1878. In that year the three Lodges in Charlottetown held a Joint Communication on December 29. R.W.Bro Adam Murray installed the Officers of the three Lodges for the following year. Victoria Lodge and St. John’s Lodge have kept the tradition. Most Grand Masters since that time have been honoured to participate in the Installation. The Lodge approved a change in its procedures in 1997 to allow election of Officers “at the Regular Communication in November and installation in December prior to and including December 27 at the desecration (sic) of the Worshipful Master.” (Minutes, September 9, 1997)
The earliest records show that refreshment and entertainment were an important part of the St. John’s Night ceremony. In 1827 the Brethren met at 11:00 a.m. for Installation. They attended a dinner at 6:00 p.m. The Lodge had twenty-three members in 1827. Later in the nineteenth century the Lodge enjoyed refreshments and entertainment after the evening Installation on St. John’s Night. Occasionally as in 1891 the members and guests has ‘a spread’ at Hotel Davies following Installation. The first record of an Open Installation was in 1918 when “upwards of one hundred members and visitors with their ladies included were admitted and Bro. James D Stewart PGM installed the Officers of St. John’s and Victoria Lodges for the ensuing year assisted by W.Bro. F.H. Beer PM as Grand Marshal.” (Minutes, December 27, 1918) A request to hold an open Installation in 1970 was denied by the Board of General Purposes. (Minutes, December 8, 1970) The practise of Open Installation was initiated again in 1993 when twenty-five family and friends assembled for the St. John’s Night celebration. Representatives of local television and press were present when M.W.Bro. David P MacLean PGM installed W.Bro. Hari Boggs as Worshipful Master. The custom of holding a St.John’s Night Banquet was revived in 1920. The Banquet normally was held prior to the evening Installation. The last St. John’s Night Banquet was held in 1974 with one hundred and forty-nine in attendance at the Charlottetown Hotel. The Worshipful Master in 1974 was Bro. M.S. Stevenson. The Toastmaster for the evening was W.Bro. Fred Younker of Victoria No. 2. The custom of a Ladies Night Banquet in February began in 1976. One hundred and forty members and guests attended. W.Bro. William C. Ball was Worshipful Master in 1976.
The Ladies’ Night Banquet has continued as a tradition held jointly with Victoria Lodge. Many of the Brethren still refer to it as the St John’s Night Banquet. (Minutes, February 8, 1994) The venue in recent years has been ‘The Inn on the Hill’.
In 1891 the two Charlottetown Lodges began active planning for a new Temple in the City. (See History of Victoria Lodge.) Brethren of both Lodges met in City Hall on May 7, 1891 to plan the project. R.W.Bro. Simon Crabbe PM and Grand Treasurer was named as Chairman of the Building Committee. Plans for a Grand Bazaar were started as well. Little is recorded in the Minutes of St. John’s Lodge concerning the planning for the new Temple. The Minutes of a Special Joint Communication on November 14, 1891 provided general information on the financial affairs of the Temple Company. R.W.Bro. Simon Crabbe PM spoke of “the favourable financial position of the Temple Company.” St. John’s Lodge voted fifty more shares for the Company at that meeting. The Brethren of the two Lodges subscribed approximately $12,000 toward the total cost of approximately $25,000.
It was unclear when St. John’s Lodge held its first meeting in the new Temple although the Secretary, W.Bro. J.G.J Weldon, began using ‘Masonic Temple’ instead of ‘Masonic Hall’ on November 14, 1893. Victoria Lodge first met in the new Temple on October 2, 1893.
The Corner Stone for the New Temple was laid on May 24, 1892 by M.W. Bro. Donald Darrach, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Prince Edward Island. The Grand Lodge met in Emergent Communication at the Masonic Hall on Water Street and went in Grand Procession to the new Temple preceded by the Citizens Band. The Corner Stone was laid in accordance with ancient custom by the Grand Master. (The Commemorative Trowel used in the Ceremony is displayed in the Grand Lodge Cabinet in the present Temple) An Address was given by W.Bro. W.W. Brewer, Past Grand Chaplain of New Brunswick. Mrs. J.R. Davison played the organ for the ceremony. (Grand Lodge Proceedings 1892 pp.3-4)
The new Temple was operated by a Temple Company comprised of members of both Lodges. St. John’s Lodge paid annual rent of $125 in the first year. A joint committee of the two Lodges made arrangements for the furnishing of the new Temple with estimated costs of $800. (Minutes, November 13, 1893) The Masonic Temple Opera House which was located below the Lodge Room in the two-storey building was officially opened in the autumn of 1893. The Opera House later housed the Prince Edward Theatre.
St. John’s Lodge celebrated its Centennial with a series of special events on October 13-14, 1897. W.Bro. Adam Murray, who had served as Worshipful Master on three previous occasions in 1859, 1860 and 1863 was honoured to be elected Worshipful Master once again for the historic milestone in the Lodge. A Committee of seven was appointed in March 1897 to plan the celebrations. W.Bro. John Ross PM was chairman. Other members were W.Bro. Edward Love, Bro. Benjamin Rogers, M.W.Bro. Simon Crabbe PGM, M.W.Bro. Thomas A. MacLean PGM, R.W.Bro. George Wakeford and M.W.Bro. Benjamin Messervey PGM. The Committee had difficulty preparing a program to suit the Brethren. The first Committee Report in September, 1897 called for a Divine Service followed by a supper with ‘their lady friends’. The Brethren voted to table the Report and to ask the Worshipful Master to convene a Special Communication to “decide how our Centennial shall be fitly celebrated”. At the Special Communication the Centennial Committee added details for the events mentioned in the previous Report and recommended that a ‘Charity Fund’ be started by the Lodge to mark the Centennial. The Brethren discussed the revised Report clause by clause with seven motions and five amendments being presented before ‘the Report as amended’ was finally adopted. In the end the Lodge had an impressive celebration.
A Special Communication was convened in the afternoon of October 12 in the Lodge Room where M.W.Bro. Leonard Morris, Grand Master, addressed the Lodge. In his remarks he referenced the Original Charter of the Lodge and instructed the Worshipful Master to henceforth insert a special paragraph in the Installation Service for all future Masters relative to the significance of the Original Charter as a ‘sacred relic’. ( The Charter had been missing from 1878-1897 before W.Bro. Adam Murray found it in a case. (Minutes, March 9, 1897). Following the Address the Brethren went in procession to the Opera House. M.W.Bro. Thomas MacLean read the Charter, Bro. John Ross PM sang ‘We Meet Upon The Level’ and Bro George Wakeford delivered an Historical Essay on the first one hundred years of St. John’s Lodge. An Oration was delivered by W.Bro. George M. Campbell of Keith Lodge No. 21 R.N.B. and Pastor of the First Methodist Church in Charlottetown. A collection was taken in favour of the Prince Edward Island Hospital. In the evening the Brethren and guests assembled at Hotel Davies for a banquet. Tickets were $2.
The two-day celebration concluded with a Gala Ball on October14 in the Lodge Room with five hundred invited guests. The ladies provided a supper and arranged decorations of flowers, plants and bunting. Music was provided by the Vinnicombe’s Orchestra. The event was under the patronage of W.Bro. Louis Henry Davies and Lady Davies. The total cost for the Ball, not including supper provided by the ladies, was $111.76. A collection by Lodge members raised $112.
On motion of the Lodge the full text of M.W.Bro. Morris’ Address and Bro. Rev. Campbell’s Oration were engrossed in the Minutes. Bro. Wakeford would not provide a copy of his historical essay for theMinutes. At a later Communication he objected to the critical remarks by some of the Brethren concerning parts of his History. He asked permission to read the particular sections and to explain his intent. The request was denied. (Fifty years later M.W.Bro. G. Elliott Full PGM presented a copy of Bro. Wakeford’s Historical Essay to the Lodge with a covering letter that stated that the work was not engrossed in the Minutes because “of the whim of the Lodge Historian.”
St. John’s Lodge was one of the first Lodges in the Jurisdiction to establish a Relief Fund. The motivation was provided in part by the initiative of Grand Lodge to start a Relief Fund for the Jurisdiction in 1895. M.W. Bro. Roderick MacNeill issued a Circular to all Constituent Lodges in October 1895 encouraging the establishment of a Grand Lodge Relief Fund and requesting that each Freemason contribute $1 to the project. Bro. MacNeill raised the issue at each of his Visitations. St. John’s Lodge did not discuss the Circular prior to the Grand Master’s visit on February 18, 1896. When Bro. MacNeill requested a vote on the principle of the Relief Fund, the Worshipful Master objected stating that the Meeting was a Special Communication called only to receive the Grand Master. Bro. MacNeill countered that it was his Meeting and he gave the authority to raise the matter. The Worshipful Master prevailed so the Grand Master chose to raise the issue and called for a vote. A motion was presented expressing approval of the Relief Fund but suggesting that the matter be laid over until the next Regular Communication. Nine Brethren supported the motion and all others abstained. At the next Regular Communication R.W.Bro. G.W. Wakeford led the charge against approving the part of theMinutes of the February 18 Special Communication relating to the Relief Fund. His motion was supported. 9 : 5. A motion at the April 14, 1896 Communication to establish a Committee to solicit subscriptions from individual Masons for the Relief Fund was defeated 4 : 16. ( All of the Constituent Lodges except St. John’s contributed to the Grand Lodge Relief Fund in 1896) Ten years later St. John’s Lodge established its own Relief Fund.
The Lodge adopted amendments to Bye-Law # 6 to provide for ‘the Fund of Benevolence’ on April 10, 1906. Grand Lodge approved the amended Bye-Laws in May 1906. The Fund was established “for the benefit of Brother Masons in distress, Brother Mason’s widows and orphans.” After one year the Fund had a balance of $207.92. One decade later the balance had grown to $819.44 with expenditures of $45. In 1976 when the Minute Book last carried the Annual Financial Statement, the Fund had investments totalling $12,850 and $744 on hand. Initially the Fund was supported by one third of the annual dues. That formula was amended later to one-sixth of the dues and in 1921, when dues were raised to $5, the Fund received 10%. The Relief/Benevolent Fund has been used to assist with a large variety of individual needs and charities.
Prior to 1906 the Lodge used funds from the General Account for benevolent activity. The earliest request was recorded in February, 1869 when W.Bro. Adam Murray shared “the melancholy facts relative to the injuries sustained by Bro. ‘X’ in a gunpowder explosion and as Bro.