Victoria Lodge No. 2
One of the most active years in the early history was 1866-67 when twenty-three Communications were held and nineteen Master Mason Degrees were conferred. The Right Worshipful Master was Bro. George Douglas. The list of “entrants’ included two traders, two house joiners, one photograph artist, one attorney-at-law, three master mariners, one sail maker, four members of the 4th Regiment, one Commission Agent, two naval gunners, one master-at-arms and one mercantile clerk. The type of occupations partly explains why many Brethren on the Roll were listed as “absent from the Colony”.
A summary of the membership on St. Andrew’s Day, 1873 showed that the Lodge had raised an average of twelve members annually after 1857. Affiliations averaged two yearly. The stern fact that one-hundred and thirteen had withdrawn indicated much about the role of Lodges in coastal communities in the mid-1800’s.
The membership issue impacted heavily on the finances of Victoria Lodge. Lodge dues were one shilling monthly (approximately 16¢). In 1862 thirty-seven Brethren within a membership of approximately sixty were in arrears. The total owing was £37 / 13 / 9 ($122). One decade later the amount owing reached £107 ($346). Committees were appointed to collect outstanding dues. In 1869 the Committee reported that it had collected £32/ – / 2 “using every possible exertion.” The Report noted that many were absent from the Colony and recommended that “those debts should not encumber our account books.” (Minutes, April, 1869). A Committee consisting of Bro. B. Wilson Higgs PM, Bro. Alexander H. MacPherson and Bro. William B. Morrison was appointed on December 1, 1873 to collect on overdue accounts, examine the books and recommend action. (The Lodge officially adopted the new decimal currency in 1872. In the amended Bye-Laws Lodge dues were changed to quarterly payments of 50¢.) On January 13, 1874 the Committee reported that $83.96 had been collected in unpaid dues but $293.52 was still owing. Approximately 30% of unpaid dues involved Brethren “who had left the Colony years ago.” On the recommendation of the Committee, ten were suspended and fifteen Brethren within the City were issued a second Notice. The names of all seafaring Brethren were left on the Books. Victoria Lodge had a membership of eighty-eight on November 30, 1873.
The acceptance of foreigners without normal investigation was not without risk to the Lodge. A Brother who affiliated with the Lodge for less than one year was charged with defrauding several members after he had moved to New York. At the Masonic Trial on February 27, 1864 fraud charges in excess of £285 were recorded. In March the Brother was expelled from the Lodge.