Founding of St. Andrew’s Lodge

FOUNDING OF ST. ANDREW’S LODGE

1822 C.E.-A.L. 5822 by W. Bro. Carroll E. Waldron

St. Andrew’s Lodge #1 P.G.L.- #16 G.R.C. was instituted in the early fall of 1822 and chartered in December of the same year in the town of York (Toronto), Upper Canada.  Less than thirty years before, the townsite of York, the designated Capital of Upper Canada, had been carved out of the forest, bush and swamp by Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe‘s Queen’s Rangers and the seat of Government transferred from Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake).  A few years later, Simcoe’s original town plan had been expanded and encompassed an area bounded by what we now know as Queen, Berkeley and Peter Streets and, on the south, by what was then a crystal clear Bay which, before the days of land-fill, came to within a few yards of Front Street.  The town grew slowly until after the war of 1812-14 during which much loss and damage were suffered from two American incursions.  The conclusion of that war and that of the Napoleonic wars in Europe sparked a great wave of immigration to Canada, mostly from the British Isles.

By 1822, the year of our story, the population of the Town of York had increased to over 1,300.  There were 190 houses, of which about one-half were of two storeys, and thirty-two shops, which figure probably included inns and taverns.  These houses were mostly of log or frame construction, with very few of brick.  Streets were unpaved and, in wet weather almost impassable.  Stumps remaining from the primeval forests of oak and pine still encumbered many of the street allowances, and these, combined with the many ravines, swamps, and watercourses constituted further hazards.  (Note:  These topographical features of downtown Toronto are not discernible today as they have been filled in and their waters channeled into storm sewers).

Except for whale oil lamps and candles in the shop windows of King Street, street lighting was non-existent.  Lanterns or torches were a necessity for those who ventured out in the dark of night.  While living conditions for the populace in general were quite primitive, the furnishings and domestic amenities of the better homes were quite comparable to their counterparts in England.  Among the upper echelons there was an active social life and great efforts were made to establish an aura of culture in this isolated town.  Communication with the outside world was difficult and slow.  The lake was the highway by which merchandise reached the town and the winter’s supplies were rushed in before the close of navigation in the Fall.  Although the Danforth, Kingston and Dundas roads were cut through, the discomforts precluded other than essential travel, but they, along with Yonge Street, were the lifelines that brought the products of agriculture from the farms of Scarborough, York and Etobicoke.

Political unrest was growing in the Province and naturally converged on the Capital where the so-called Family Compact exerted undue influence in government affairs and favours; a condition that was not to be remedied until after Lord Durham’s Report of 1839.  Freemasonry in Upper Canada was at a very low ebb and in a state of disorder, if not of chaos.  The key to this situation might be found in several factors, of which one was the disinterest of the first Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Bro. William Jarvis, whose duties as Secretary of Upper Canada claimed much of his time, and whose death in 1817 was followed by a five year hiatus during which a negligent Grand Lodge of England failed to appoint a successor.  During this period the lack of a strong guiding hand led to a laxity of discrimination in admission criteria, with the result that the credibility of some Lodges had greatly diminished.  Eventually, in 1822, the United Grand Lodge of England appointed a new Provincial Grand Master in the person of R.W. Bro. Simon McGillivray, who approached his duties with enthusiasm and wasted no time in correcting abuses and reviving the spirit of Masonry.  He envisaged a new Lodge which would re-establish the prestige of the Order and, to this end, he discussed his ideas with those unattached Masons whom he felt would further that concept.  The outcome of these discussions is best illustrated by the following letter which he sent to the Duke of Sussex, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England: “At York I had the advantage of being personally acquainted with the most respectable individuals in the society of the place, and the subject of my Masonic mission being occasionally alluded to in my conversation, I soon found that several of my friends were Freemasons, although they had never joined or visited any of the lodges in the Province, nor taken any notice whatever of the proceedings or progress of the Craft, and on my expressing regret at this indifference on their part, the answer was that Masonry had not been in such hands, nor conducted in such a manner as to offer any inducement to respectable men to associate with some of those whom they might be liable to meet in the lodges. I replied that if even the case were so, it was partly caused by the absence of the influence and example of individuals like themselves, who, instead of leaving Masonry in the hands of persons with whom they could not associate, ought themselves to be the leaders of the Craft.  I explained, however, the measures which had already been adopted for the exclusion of improper persons, and those which would be enforced under the authority and Constitution of the Grand Lodge of England, and finally, a sufficient number of these gentlemen having agreed to form a lodge and petitioned accordingly for a dispensation, I had great satisfaction in giving it to them, and I anticipate great benefit to the Craft from their countenance and support.  Amongst the members of this Lodge (St. Andrew’s, #1) are one of the Judges of the Court of King’s Bench, the Surveyor-General of the Province, the Receiver-General (who is also a Legislative Counsellor), the Governor’s Secretary, the Principal Aide-de-Camp, the Adjutant-General of the Militia, etc.  Although these local distinctions may not be very highly appreciated in England, yet in Canada these gentlemen are a great acquisition to the general respectability of Masonry, and their personal and official influence will in many cases have a very beneficial effect.”

It was in early autumn of 1822, and at the invitation of Judge William Campbell that a group of Masons met in his newly-built home on Duke Street at the head of Frederick Street.  (Note: This house was removed to the northwest corner of Queen Street and University Avenue on March 31st, 1972 and restored to its former pride by the Advocates Society of Ontario).  The purpose of this meeting was to plan the formation of the new Lodge on which the United Grand Lodge of England had conferred the name and style of St. Andrew’s Lodge #1 on the Register of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Upper Canada and #754 on the English Register.  Picture, if you will, the west parlour of this Georgian house.  The furniture was of fine classic design and the walls were decorated with fine wallpaper: both furniture and paper imported from England where artisans had brought both to a high degree of excellence.  From the high ceiling was suspended an ornate candelabrum, its light augmented by whale oil lamps set in sconces in the wall.  A large fireplace brought a cheerful glow of warmth to offset the chill of a September evening.  It was in this setting that the men who were to lay the cornerstone of St. Andrew’s Lodge were foregathered.  Judge William Campbell, at this time 64 years of age, was of a distinguished mien; tall, stately and grave, with his white hair worn fairly long with side-whiskers almost to his chin.  A contemporary portrait depicts him in judicial robes, but on this occasion he probably was dressed in a dark cut-away coat, knee breeches, long stockings and low shoes with a large decorative buckle.  His stock, or cravat, was voluminous, filling up the V of his coat and tending to soften his somewhat stern appearance.  He was a veteran of the American Revolutionary War, having enlisted as a private in a Highland regiment, probably in his native Thurso, Caithness, Scotland, at the age of 17.  In America he was transferred to the Queen’s Rangers, in which regiment he attained the rank of adjutant and, with them, was taken prisoner at the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781.  Subsequent to the Treaty of Paris in 1783, he was released and made his way to Nova Scotia where, in 1785, he married the attractive Hannah Hadley, a daughter of Capt. Joseph Hadley, a prosperous grantee.  Capt. Hadley presented him with a farm which he worked for a time.  But farming was not in his blood, so he arranged with lawyer Thomas Cutler to use his law office and books to study law.  This led to several appointments by the court at Chedabucto, Guysboro, and, in 1799, his abilities were recognized by his election to the Nova Scotia Parliament, representing what was then the County of Sydney.  He held that office until 1804, when he accepted the post of Attorney-General of Cape Breton, at that time a separate colony.  In 1811, he was offered a puisne judgeship in Upper Canada, in which post he served with distinction until, in 1825, he was appointed Chief Justice.  As Chief Justice he tried many important cases, the best known of which being that in which a mob of young rioters was charged with wrecking the printing plant of William Lyon MacKenzie, the publisher of the Colonial Advocate, a radical journal that was a thorn in the side of the establishment.  The fact that these young bloods were the sons of prominent citizens of York, some of whom were members of his Lodge, did not influence his judgement.  He found for the plaintiff and awarded MacKenzie damages which were sufficient to replace his equipment and also put him back on his financial feet.  This case was typical of the fairness and rectitude of action which characterized his life.  In 1829, he was knighted, the first Canadian judge to be so honoured.  He died in 1834 and his funeral was attended by the Legislature and the legal profession in a body.  Sir William Campbell was the first Master of St. Andrew’s Lodge and occupied the chair of King Solomon from 1822 to March, 1824.

Thomas Ridout Sr., aged 68, was our first Senior Warden and the father of our first two candidates (George Ridout and Thomas Gibbs Ridout).  He was born in Sherborne, Dorset, England and, with his father, immigrated to Maryland in 1774 at the age of 20.  It is recorded that he was captured by a band of Indians and brought to Canada in 1787, but it is a fair conjecture that this was a ruse employed by Ridout, a Loyalist, to slip away from the hostile environment engendered by the Revolution.  He was described by Rev. Dr. Henry Scadding as a typical English country gentleman of a cheerful benevolent countenance, stocky, ruddy of face and bothered by lumbago.  That he was of a stubborn nature is indicated by his life-long persistence in adhering to the older fashion in his clothes and his insistence on datelining his correspondence “TORONTO”, the original Indian name which Simcoe had changed to “YORK”.  He was appointed Acting Surveyor-General in 1799 and Surveyor-General in 1810, a post which he held until his death in 1829.  He was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1812 on a platform of “Education for the Millions”, and he maintained an active interest in education throughout his life in York.  In 1826, he became a member of the Executive Council.  His home was a large rambling house at what is now the intersection of Ontario Street and Adelaide Street East (Duke Street) and in it he raised a family of seven boys and five girls.  His fourth son, John, was slain in the last duel fought in York, in 1817.  It is of interest to note that the eldest son of Thomas Ridout purchased the 100 acre park lot of Attorney-General John White, the victim of the first duel in York, and on it opened up the street we now spell Sherbourne, but which he named Sherborne for the ancient family seat of the Ridouts in Dorset, England.

John Henry Dunn, aged 28, had come to Upper Canada in 1820 to take up his appointment as Receiver-General.  At the formation of St. Andrew’s Lodge, he was elected Junior Warden and, two years later, he was appointed Grand Lodge Treasurer.  That he was a great asset to the community also is apparent in the record.  Politically, he was a member of the Legislative Council and of the Executive Council, and he represented the Government in the Chartering of the Bank of Upper Canada in 1822.  In 1841, he was elected Member for Toronto in the newly constituted Parliament of the United Canadas.  His philanthropies were varied and numerous.  Notable were his donation of a silver communion service to the first St. James’ Church and, to the second St. James’ a “magnificent organ, a costly and fine-toned instrument”.  His religious and educational interests were evidenced by his work as the first president of the local branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society and as the first patron of York Mechanics Institute, the forerunner of our Toronto Public Library.  Dunn Avenue in Parkdale is reputed to have received its name from him or from his son, Alexander Roberts Dunn who won the Victoria Cross in the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava.

Bernard Turquand, our first Secretary, was an English gentleman of Huguenot descent and, at this time, 32 years of age.  He came to Upper Canada in 1820 as Deputy Receiver-General under John Henry Dunn.  He was appointed Grand Secretary and it was he who penned the dispensation for St. Andrew’s Lodge, dated September 24th, 1822, and given under the authority of R.W. Bro. Simon McGillivray, Provincial Grand Master; a priceless document still in the possession of the Lodge.  His beautiful handwriting is also apparent in our first minute books.  Bernard Turquand lived on the south side of Lot St. (Queen St.) between Spadina Avenue and Bathurst Street on the outskirts of the town.  After twenty years of devoted service to Grand Lodge and to St. Andrew’s he moved to Montreal.  He served as Master of our Lodge in 1831 and 1832.

Thomas FitzGerald, aged 57 and Irish by birth, is recorded as a barrister-at-law and, other than the fact that he was St. Andrew’s first Senior Deacon, no further definite information could be found at this time.  It is possible that he was the Captain FitzGerald who was a member of an exploratory party led by Simcoe in February 1793 from Niagara to Detroit on which journey Simcoe became convinced that the area of what is now London was the best site for the new Capital; a conviction promptly squelched by Lord Dorchester.

Major George Hillier, aged about 40, was our first Junior Deacon. He was a professional soldier and aide-de-camp to Sir Peregrine Maitland, the Lieut-Governor, with whom he had served in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo.  His home in York was a quaint rustic cottage on the south side of Front St. facing the Bay which, at that time, came up to the edge of his property.  He was Master of our Lodge in 1824 and 1825.

Lieut-Colonel Nathaniel Coffin, aged 32 years, was a brother-inlaw and aide-de-camp to Sir Roger Sheaffe who took over command on the death of Sir Isaac Brock at the Battle of Queenston heights.  In 1815 he was appointed Adjutant-General of Militia for Upper Canada.  He lived in what was later known as the “Bonnycastle Cottage” on a promontory jutting into the Bay just to the east of what is now Spadina Avenue.  An intriguing note is recorded that “there was a nice garden and grove on the property”.

John Beikie, in some references Colonel Beikie, was a Scotsman and aged 55.  Dr. Scadding describes him as a tall, upright, staidly moving man who was usually seen in a long snuff-coloured overcoat and, also, as one of the dramatis personae of York.  He was actively engaged in the defence of York against the American invaders in 1813 and was held by them as a hostage.  His wife, Penelope, was one of the few who held fast in her home to keep off American looters.  From 1810 to 1815 John Beikie was Sheriff of York and, as such, he probably was the first to complain of wretched conditions in York Gaol; a protest repeated by Sir William Campbell and many others over the years.  From 1812 to 1816 he represented the Counties of Stormont and Glengarry in the Legislative Assembly.  He was clerk of the Executive Council from 1820 to 1825.  In Masonry he was an excellent ritualist whose skills were frequently called upon.  He ruled the lodge in 1826 and 1827.  He lived on the north side of Front Street east of Spadina Avenue where Windsor Street now stands.

Colonel Stephen Jarvis, aged 66, was a cousin of William Jarvis, erstwhile Secretary of Upper Canada and Provincial Grand Master under the Athol Grand Lodge of England.  He had served with distinction as an officer of the Loyalist South Carolina Dragoons in the Revolutionary War.  At the conclusion of that war he left Danbury, Connecticut, his former home, to settle in Fredericton, New Brunswick.  In 1809 he came to York where he served in the Legislature as Registrar of the Home District and as Gentleman Usher of Black Rod.  In 1813 he was appointed a founding director of the York Association, a banking house which preceded the Bank of Upper Canada.  That he was a very conservative gentleman is indicated by the fact that he maintained till the last the old custom of wearing his powdered hair in a queue.  His town house was on the west side of George Street near Duke Street, but he later built a suburban home on the Rosedale ravine just east of Yonge Street.  When his son William Botsford Jarvis, a later St. Andrew’s initiate, inherited this property, he named it Rosedale, a name which the district still enjoys.

Colonel James FitzGibbon, aged 42, was born in Ireland.  He was a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars and, in Canada, served in the War of 1812-14.  He received the surrender of a superior American force at Beaver Dams, the action associated with Laura Secord.  He led the Government troops against William Lyon MacKenzie in the Rebellion of 1837.  He was Deputy Provincial Grand Master from 1822 until 1826 and served as Master of our lodge in 1828 and 1829.

The last name on the dispensation is that of Daniel Brooke.  Although Daniel Brooke Jr. was a successful young businessman at this time, there is a greater probability that the name is that of his father.  Daniel Brooke Sr. was a retired half-pay officer of the British Army.  His military record commenced with the Coldstream Guards, but in 1787 he volunteered with the 41st Regiment of Foot which, after 1793 was stationed at York.  Here he settled to bring up a family but, at the age of 48 the army life again called and, with the 7th R.V.R. he served in the Peninsular War under Sir Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington).  He was wounded in that Spanish campaign but did not return to York until 1818.  In 1821, his daughter, Elizabeth, married Allan Napier MacNab, who was later to become very prominent in politics and masonry in Canada.  But that is another story.

These are the men who constituted that elite group which founded our beloved St. Andrew’s Lodge.  After 155 years, we, their successors, offer heartfelt thanks to them for their contribution to masonry.  They were a bastion of Masonic principles at a time when the Craft was sinking into a slough of despond.  They formed a Lodge which, over the years, has set an example and a pattern of all that Masonry stands for.  We revere their memory.  It is to be hoped that this necessarily short summary of the origins of St. Andrew’s Lodge will inspire our members, and in particular our younger members, to delve further into the story of a Lodge which has, over the years, numbered among its members some of the most distinguished men of our city and of our country.  Histories of our Lodge have been written at various times by gifted and learned men and these histories are available through the Archivist.  The minute books of the Lodge dating back to its inception are in the custody of the Lodge Archivists and, to any who wish to enlarge their knowledge, are available under very strict conditions.