Victoria Lodge No. 2
The social aspects of Freemasonry have been carefully woven into the life of Victoria Lodge. The records clearly revealed that the Brethren were committed to a meaningful social hour following the meetings and to a variety of planned social events throughout the year. Many were planned jointly with St. John’s Lodge. The impressive list of events included picnics, excursions, dinners, dances, concerts, teas, soirees, bridge play and auction, exchange visits within and outside the Jurisdiction, golf tournaments, curling bonspiels, ladies’ night and levees. The Entertainment Committee has been a vital and accountable part of the work of Victoria Lodge.
Picnics, excursions and dinners were especially popular in the early years. A picnic was first referenced in July 1859. Excursions were “Masonic only’ at first and on at least two occasions the trip included a stop in Pictou to attend a Masonic event. (Minutes, July 16, 1868) The Festival of Saint John the Baptist on June 24 was often the occasion for attending Divine Worship followed by a dinner. In 1885 the Brethren of the two Lodges worshipped together at the Methodist Church and had dinner at the Rankin Hotel. As in most Lodges the Brethren of Victoria were reluctant to use Lodge Funds for social activities. When the Lodge was invited by St. John’s Lodge to cooperate in holding a Ball in 1860, the Brethren declined and drafted a 2½ page Resolution outlining why it was “neither prudent nor politic” to use Lodge funds to cover a shortfall when such funds could be used for relief or to hire a Grand Lecturer. (Minutes, February 28, 1860) In 1877 the two Lodges joined with King Solomon Lodge for a picnic. The deficit of $25 was shared equally by the three Lodges.
The picnic on August 23, 1888 was an event not soon forgotten by the Brethren. After refusing to share in planning the event, St. John’s Lodge was invited to accompany the Brethren to Birch Grove on the shores of Pownal Bay at the farm of Mr. Alexander MacRae in Waterside. The government Steamer, Southport, was hired at a cost of $25, a live band for $20 and Bro. Alexander MacKenzie was contracted as a caterer. The first load of fifty persons including the band and Bro. MacKenzie departed Charlottetown at 9:30 a.m.. The second load with approximately one hundred ladies and gentlemen departed at 2:30 p.m. but grounded on Governor’s Island where it remained until the high tide at 9:30 p.m. allowed it to float. A “foraging party’ was dispatched from the Steamer to collect some picnic supplies from the site of the picnic. The row boat arrived at Birch Grove at 5:30 p.m.. The crew secured a sailboat and after loading the picnic supplies in the sailboat and attaching the row boat behind, set out for the Steamer. The journey was difficult and the row boat had to be detached and returned to Pownal. The sailboat also returned when it was discovered that the Steamer had freed itself and proceeded to Charlottetown. The crews of the two boats and the stranded picnickers remained in Pownal overnight and were cared for by the residents. The Daily Examiner reported that in addition to those who attended from the City, there were quite a few from the surrounding districts, making in all between four and five hundred people. (The Daily Examiner, August 24, 1888)