Victoria Lodge No. 2
Efforts to acquire a new Masonic Temple in the City began almost immediately after the Brethren returned to the refurbished quarters on Lower Water Street in 1869. The Lodge records show that joint committees of the two Lodges were established in 1875, 1883 and 1885 to consider “the feasibility of building a Masonic Temple” (Minutes, February 19, 1875) or “to procure a more central place for meeting.” (Minutes, August 22, 1883) The initiative in the 1890’s was carried to fruition and the new Masonic Temple on Grafton Street served Freemasonry for more than sixty years.
The historic meeting that set the wheels in motion for the building of the Temple was held in the City Hall on May 7, 1891. Twenty-five Masons attended including seven from Victoria Lodge. The idea of holding “A Grand Bazaar’ to help fund the Temple was first raised at that meeting. By the autumn of 1891 the site at 65 Grafton Street, the architects (Phillips and Chappell) and the contractors (McDonald and Harper) were selected. Cost of construction was set at $24,000. A Circular was distributed to all Brethren on November 25, 1891. R.W.Bro. Simon W. Crabbe, Grand Treasurer and Past Master of St. John’s Lodge was chairman of the Building Committee. A Subscription List was opened and $14,000 was received. The names of forty-seven subscribers to the “Corner Stone Fund’ were recorded on two Scrolls. (P.A.R.O., Acc. 2566 M-N)
The Brethren and their families engaged in a variety of fundraisers. Dinners and concerts were held throughout 1892. The ladies organized the “Masonic Bazaar Sewing Circle’ and were very active in support of the new Temple. The many advertisements that appeared reflected the enthusiasm of the ladies. On March 9 the Circle was called to meet at 2:30 p.m. and also “the same evening to which we invite all who attended in the afternoon, and not only those but every woman who would like to aid in the erection of a building, greatly needed, which will be an ornament to our City.” (The Daily Examiner, March 4, 1892) The ladies group continued to work following the Bazaar as the “Masonic Temple Sewing Circle.’ The Grand Bazaar raised $1234..05. (Minutes, February 4, 1895)
The Corner Stone for the new Temple was laid during an Emergent Communication of the Grand Lodge on May 24, 1892. M.W.Bro. Donald Darrach presided at the 2:00 p.m. ceremony. V.W.Bro. W.W. Brewer, Past Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of New Brunswick, delivered the Address. Both Craft Lodges in the City were summoned to meet at 1:00 p.m. prior to the Grand Procession from the old Lodge Room. A Special Train was arranged to leave Summerside at 7:00 a.m. and to depart from Charlottetown at 5:00 p.m.. The fare was $1. Masons were advised through the Summons that Masonic Costume for the event included silk hat, black suit, white gloves and tie. (P.A.R.O. Acc. 2566 J-K)