History of St. Andrew’s Lodge #16

HISTORY OF ST. ANDREW’S LODGE #1 P.G.L.R.,#16 G.R.C.

(From Its Origins to 1859) by W. Bro. Tom Coulston

On October 14, 1913, the brethren of St. Andrew’s Lodge G.R.C. #16 held a reception for the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the province of Ontario – Most Worshipful Brother W.D. McPherson K.C.  Most Worshipful Brother McPherson was presented with two handsome cases of silver cutlery by the brethren of the lodge and in his remarks to them said the following: There is no lodge in the world that has left its impress upon affairs and the community with more beneficial effect for the uplifting of man than St. Andrew’s Lodge, nor was there any other lodge within whose ranks there were more able and distinguished men, whose activities and whose benevolence were felt from ocean to ocean.

These words, spoken long ago, aptly describe the character of our lodge, the unique impact it has had on the Toronto community over the years and the exceptional quality of its members.  It is my intention over the next few pages to share some of the history of our lodge with you. I recognize that some of what I write will be familiar to a few of the more senior brethren and to other members who may have investigated our lodge’s history in the past.  To these more experienced brethren, I say, be patient!  If the information is not new to you at least it will reaffirm your belief in the greatness of our lodge and renew your resolve to uphold its past traditions and participate fully in its future.

I admit that my comments are intended to help our newer members become more familiar with our past masonic endeavours.  To these less experienced brethren may I say that hopefully the information provided will enlighten you and help you to feel the direct link which you have with the historic past through your association with this lodge.  You may be proud of the common bond which all St. Andrew’s members share – of our own free will and accord we have chosen to become members of this great and historic lodge!

And so to begin. But to set the scene, we must first go back in history beyond 1822 – our year of origin – all the way back to June 24th, 1717 and to the Goose and Gridiron ale-house in London, England.  On this day, known as St. John the Baptist’s day, several non-operative masons (referred to now as speculative) met to celebrate the day with a feast.  Before dinner commenced, the brethren by a majority of hands elected Brother Anthony Sayer, Grand Master of Masons.  This event marks the beginning of modern speculative masonry and it is from this date that we trace our formal history and study the impact of masonry on the whole of the globe.

Our interest, however, is on events in Canada and so we must turn our attention to our own land.  For information on the earliest record of masonic activity in Canada, we go to no less an authority than Thomas Haliburton, author of the famous Sam Slick stories and Supreme Court Judge of Nova Scotia in the 1840’s.  Haliburton’s history of Nova Scotia contains the following account:

About 6 miles below the ferry is situated Goat Island which separates the Annapolis Basin from that of Digby and forms two entrances to the former.  A small peninsula extending from the Granville Shore forms one of its sides.  On this point of land the first piece of ground was cleared for cultivation in Nova Scotia by the French.  In 1827, a stone was discovered upon which (the French) had engraved the date of their first cultivation of the soil.  On the upper part are engraved the square and compass of a Free Mason and in the centre, in large and deep Arabic figures, the date 1606.  Although Haliburton’s evidence has been disputed, it is interesting to speculate on the presence of Masonic activity in that first permanent community begun by Champlain at Port Royal in 1604.  Any such marking no doubt should have been made by an operative mason since speculative masonry did not become widespread until the 1700’s as I have indicated above.

Speculative masonry came to Canada from the British Isles via New England.  On March 13, 1738 Major Erasmus James Philipps was warranted from Boston as Grand Master of Nova Scotia and in June 1738 Major Philipps called a lodge meeting in the fort where he was stationed at Annapolis Royal – less than 10 miles from where the Goat Island stone was located.  (If’ you visit the Maritimes, take a trip to the Annapolis Valley.  There in the fort at Annapolis Royal, you can enter the very room where Major Philipps held the first lodge meeting in Canada and you can read the plaque on the wall commemorating this historic event.)  Before turning our attention to Upper Canada, it is useful to note the extent to which there was masonic activity in French Canada prior to 1759 when Wolfe defeated Montcalm at Quebec.  In the 1720’s, British free masonry spread to France and, indeed, a Grand Lodge of France was formed in 1728.  Many of the new French lodges were formed within regiments of the French army.  It is likely, therefore, that the French army brought masonry to Quebec probably in the 1730’s at about the same time as Major Philipps was organizing masonry in Nova Scotia.  However, there is no historic documentation to support French masonic activity in Quebec prior to 1759 and certainly after Canada came under British control, the British regiments introduced their own brand of free masonry to Lower Canada and subsequently to Upper Canada.  Ultimately, the eight lodges of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Montreal and William Henry met in Hamilton in 1855 and joined with eleven lodges working under the Irish constitution and eleven lodges working under the authority of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Canada West to create a new Grand Lodge to be known as the Grand Lodge of Canada.  Following Confederation in 1867, there was agitation for each province to have its own Grand Lodge and accordingly, in 1869, the Grand Lodge of Quebec was formed.

In 1791, the Constitutional Act divided Canada into two parts – Upper Canada and Lower Canada.  On March 7, 1792, the Grand Lodge of England proclaimed a young American by the name of William Jarvis, Grand Master of Upper Canada.  This was rather curious since Jarvis had been initiated into masonry only four weeks before!  This fact is just another interesting feature of Jarvis’ life.  William Jarvis was a United Empire Loyalist who had fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War.  Born in Stamford, Connecticut, he was commissioned into the Queen’s Rangers, a regiment whose Colonel happened to be John Graves Simcoe.  When the American Revolution ended in 1783, Jarvis, who had a distinguished military career with the British, found Connecticut less than friendly.  He therefore returned to England where he had earlier been educated and joined the British army.  Shortly thereafter, Simcoe was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada and Jarvis, who had maintained an association with his ex-Colonel, managed to have himself appointed Secretary and Registrar for the new Province of Upper Canada.  In the summer of 1792, Jarvis arrived in Niagara-on-the-Lake (known at that time as Newark) and for five years he functioned as an able administrator to the new province.  His masonic record is not as noteworthy.  In fact, it could be said that he was grossly negligent.  When the seat of government moved from Niagara to York in 1797, Jarvis, of course, moved with it and quickly constructed a large mansion on what is today Jarvis St.  The move from Niagara to York created a masonic schism.  The Niagara brethren who had been critical of Jarvis’ lack of leadership, created an illegal Grand Lodge of their own in 1802 in Niagara, while the official Grand Lodge suffered under the disinterest of Jarvis in York.  In spite of this, Jarvis remained Provincial Grand Master until his death in 1817.  As a result of his irresponsible behaviour, masonry in the town of York fell into a state of confusion.  Since no one bothered to tell England that Jarvis had died it was some time before the English Grand Lodge reacted to the situation.

Eventually in 1822, Simon McGillivray arrived in Upper Canada to take over as the new Provincial Grand Master.  When Jarvis died in 1817, several lodges gathered together in search of leadership and formed a group known as the Kingston Convention.  This group continued to bicker with the Niagara group and it was into this state of affairs that McGillivray was plunged.  McGillivray, however, was no Jarvis!  He took his Masonic obligations seriously.  This masonic dedication, combined with enormous energy and his uncommon ability as both a diplomat and an administrator, resulted in his bringing about harmony among the rival masonic groups and on September 23, 1822, a new Provincial Grand Lodge (known as the Second) began in York under the gavel of Simon McGillivray.  The very next day, September 24, 1822, McGillivray granted the official dispensation to organize a new lodge at York under the new Grand Lodge authority.  This lodge was to be known as St. Andrew’ s Lodge #1 on the new register.  One can easily see why the formation of St. Andrew’s Lodge was of first importance to McGillivray since he was highly impressed with the brethren that he met.  On his arrival in York, McGillivray wrote to the Duke of Sussex (who was the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England and as such was McGillivray’s superior) describing the local brethren as follows:  “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. Among the members of this Lodge (St. Andrew’s No. 1) are one of the Judges of the Court of King’s Bench, the Surveyor-General of the Province, the Receiver-General (who’s 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 asset to the general respectability of Masonry and their personal and official influence will in many cases have a very beneficial effect.  Obviously then, McGillivray was impressed and accordingly on September 24, 1822 he enthusiastically approved the petition to form St. Andrew’s Lodge which had been submitted on behalf of 11 citizens of York.  Who were these 11 gentlemen of York who so impressed Simon McGillivray?  Let’s take a brief look at their profiles, discussing them in the order in which their names appear on the original dispensation.

i) William Campbell became our first Master at 64 years of age.  He had been appointed to a judgeship when he came to Upper Canada in 1811 from Cape Breton where he had served as Attorney-General.  He served as Master of St. Andrew’s until March 1824.  Shortly thereafter he was appointed Chief Justice of Upper Canada and in 1829 he was knighted for his contribution to jurisprudence in Upper Canada.  He died in 1834.  It was in Campbell’s house that the first planning meeting for the organization of our lodge was held on Monday, November 18, 1822.

ii) Thomas Ridout Sr., our first Senior Warden was 68 years old in 1822 and was the father of our first two candidates, George Ridout and Thomas Gibbs Ridout.  Thomas Ridout Sr. had immigrated to Maryland in 1774.  Shortly thereafter he met a gentleman farmer by the name of George Washington who informed him that he needed a skill if he wished to get ahead in the colonies.  Washington suggested a career in surveying (Washington himself was a surveyor) and Ridout eventually returned to England to study land surveying.  When he returned to the colonies, the American Revolution was in progress and Ridout went West where his loyalist sympathies were better tolerated and his talents better used.  He was subsequently captured by Indians who eventually brought him into Canada.  Ridout made his way to York and in 1799 was appointed Acting Surveyor-General.  He became Surveyor-General in 1810 and a member of the Legislative Assembly in 1822.

iii) John Henry Dunn was only 26 years of age when he became our first Junior Warden.  Two years before, in 1820, he had been appointed Receiver-General of Upper Canada.  He was very generous in his support of St. James’ Church at King St. and Church St. and was the first patron of what later became the Toronto Public Library.  (His son, Alexander Roberts Dunn, who was also a mason, although not a member of our lodge, won a Victoria Cross during the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War.)

iv) George Hillier was a 40 year old Army Major and our first Junior Deacon.  He was Aide-de-Camp to the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada (Sir Peregrine Maitland) and succeeded William Campbell to the chair of King Solomon in 1824. Below is the letter which Brother Hillier wrote to Sir William Campbell acknowledging Sir William’s efforts as the first Master of St. Andrew’s Lodge. The letter was accompanied by the Master’s jewel of office.

 

 

St. Andrew’s Lodge

December 22, 1824

 

My Dear Sir:

The Brethren of St. Andrew’s Lodge are by no means insensible to the benefits they derived from the zeal for the society and attention to themselves which were evinced by you during the period you presided over them; when, at the sacrifice of no small personal convenience you found, amongst the cares of your high and important charge, time and attention to devote to the interests of the Craft, and to model and foster their newly formed association.  To record their sense of your services, and their personal esteem and attachment, the trifling token which I have now in their name and by their desire the pleasure to offer you was unanimously voted at one of their first meetings after the change of the lodge had, by your secession fallen into less able hands, and it was also at the same time resolved that I should present it to you, with the fervent wishes of all the brethren, for your honour, health, and happiness.  I beg you to believe that I embrace with much satisfaction this and every opportunity afforded and of subscribing myself.

Your sincere and faithful servant,

G. Hillier

 

It was these four men who laid the foundation on which our famous and historic lodge was built.  These early architects of St. Andrew’s Lodge through their outstanding qualities of Masonic leadership and civic responsibility made it possible for those brethren who followed to create a strong and influential lodge which has served the Toronto community in particular and Ontario Masonry in general for many years.  We now may proceed to look briefly at the other seven men whose names appear on the dispensation.

v) Nathaniel Coffin was 32 years old in 1822 and was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British army.  He was Aide-de- Camp to Sir Roger Sheaffe (who was the officer who assumed command on the death of General Brock at the Battle of Queenston Heights.)  Coffin was appointed Adjutant-General of the Militia in Upper Canada in 1815.

vi) John Beikie, age 55, had served as the Sheriff of York from 1810-1815 and had played a prominent role in the defence of York against the Americans in 1813 (and was briefly held hostage by them).  At the time of the formation of our lodge he was the Clerk of the Executive Council of Upper Canada – a very prestigious and politically influential position.

vii) Thomas Fitzgerald, our first Senior Deacon, was 57 when St. Andrew’s Lodge was formed.  He was a lawyer who is believed to have been a member of the expedition led by John Graves Simcoe in 1793 to Detroit.  It was at this time, that Simcoe considered developing the capital of Upper Canada on the shores of the Thames River in Western Ontario. The plan was scrapped but the community went on to become London, Ontario.

viii) Stephen Jarvis, age 66, was a cousin of William Jarvis.  Stephen Jarvis came to York from the United States following the Revolutionary War.  As a United Empire Loyalist and a distinguished officer in the British Army he soon became the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod in the Upper Canada Assembly.  His son William Botsford Jarvis was later initiated into St. Andrew’s Lodge as well (in 1841).  It was this younger Jarvis who inherited property on the northern limits of York – an area he called “Rosedale”.

ix) James Fitzgibbon, the ninth name on the list was indeed a famous man.  Fitzgibbon was a career soldier who had served in Europe against Napoleon as a young ensign and came to Canada to participate in defending this country against the American invasion.  In June of 1814 while the United States troops were still in possession of Niagara-on the-Lake, Lieutenant Fitzgibbon with a small body of British regulars was stationed at the Decew farm house (just south of present day St. Catharines on property owned by Brock University).  General Dearborn, the American commander, knew of Fitzgibbon’s position and decided to move against him.  He dispatched Colonel Boerstler and the 14th American regiment to take on this much smaller British force.  Some of Boerstler’s troops were overheard discussing the plan by Mrs. Laura Secord the wife of Sergeant James Secord who was a mason and a resident of the village of Queenston.  Mrs. Secord managed to avoid the American sentries, and slipped through the lines.  She then walked some 19 miles through bush and swamp to the Decew farmhouse and warned young Lieutenant Fitzgibbon of the proposed attack.  Fitzgibbon along with his small force and some Indian supporters managed to prepare well enough that the Battle of Beaver Dams was a British victory.  In fact, Fitzgibbon was able to convince Colonel Boerstler that he was surrounded by a much larger British force than he actually was, and the harried American commander surrendered his entire regiment to the young British Lieutenant!

When Simon McGillivray arrived in York in the summer of 1822, he promptly made Colonel James Fitzgibbon his deputy.  Fitzgibbon’s signature and his title “Deputy Provincial Grand Master” appear on the St. Andrew’s dispensation authorizing the formation of our lodge (Fitzgibbon was succeeded as D.P.G.M. in 1825 by John Beikie).  Fitzgibbon continued to be active in York for many years and we shall return to him again later on. (he led the militia force which defeated William Lyon Mackenzie in the Rebellion of 1837).

x) Bernard Turquand, age 32 , actually penned the St. Andrew’s dispensation and has his signature at the bottom since he was our first Secretary.  He was Deputy Receiver-General under John Henry Dunn.  He served as Master of St. Andrew’s Lodge from 1830 to 1832.

xi) The last name to appear on the dispensation was that of Daniel Brooke Sr.  Brooke had retired from the British army after serving for some years with the Coldstream Guards.  He later served with Sir Arthur Wellesley (the Duke of Wellington) in the Peninsular War.  His daughter Elizabeth, married Allen Napier MacNab who was later to be Provincial Grand Master of the Third Provincial Grand Lodge which met for the first time in 1845.  (MacNab was also a member of St. Andrew’s having been initiated in 1841. MacNab later became Prime Minister of United Canada in 1854.)

These then are the 11 men who were our charter members.  Because of their distinguished character, they did much to aid the cause of masonry in Upper Canada. Indeed, masonry would need sound leadership for it was to fall on hard times in the years between 1830 and 1858.  As we saw earlier, when masonry in Upper Canada came under the firm hand of Simon McGillivray, it took on a well organized and respectable character.  McGillivray continued to hold the position of Provincial Grand Master of the Second Provincial Grand Lodge from 1822 until his death in 1840.  In spite of this, he was really only active in Upper Canada in the period 1822-25.  Indeed, he spent 1830-35 in Mexico as the manager of a silver mine.  His absence from masonic affairs in Upper Canada was only one reason why masonry fell on rather difficult times in the years following the formation of St. Andrew’s Lodge.  To begin with, it is worth mentioning the infamous Morgan affair.  Within a year after St. Andrew’s was founded, a bricklayer and stone mason by the name of William Morgan proclaimed himself to be a freemason in his home town of Batavia, New York and eventually was made a Royal Arch member.  For unknown reasons a dispute developed between Morgan and his lodge brethren.  Morgan went public with the differences and threatened to publish a book exposing masonic secrets.  In 1826, Morgan was arrested for petty theft.  He was subsequently released and it appears that at this point, he was escorted out of the area, in all likelihood by angry masons.  It was widely believed at the time that Morgan was detained for a brief period in Fort Niagara, on the American side of the Niagara River and that subsequently, he was murdered by masons.  As evidence of this belief one has only to refer to the inscription on a monument erected by Morgan’s anti-masonic supporters in an old cemetery in Batavia, New York. The inscription reads as follows:

Sacred to the Memory of William Morgan, a Native of Virginia, a Captain in the War of 1812, a Respectable Citizen of Batavia, and a Martyr to the Freedom of Writing, Printing, and Speaking the Truth.  He was Abducted from Near this spot in the Year 1826, by Free Masons and Murdered for Revealing the Secrets of their Order.

The best evidence of the time suggested the following possibilities:

i) Morgan’s abductors killed him in the magazine storage area of the fort, sewed his body in a sack, carried it to a boat, rowed out into the middle of the Niagara River and sunk it.

ii) His American abductors attempted to get the assistance of Canadian masons to spirit him away into Canada.  The Canadians refused to get involved and Morgan died in captivity shortly thereafter in the fort magazine from dissipation, exposure, and fright.

iii) Morgan was taken alive by boat into the middle of the Niagara river, weighted with irons and tossed overboard.

iv) Canadian Masons did agree to receive him and moved him into a remote location near Hamilton where he lived incognito until his death some years later.

Whatever the facts, there was no disputing the results for masonry in the late 1820′ s and throughout the 1830′ s.  In the United States the Morgan affair had major political implications and provided the motivation for the formation of a new political party known as the Anti-Masonic Party.  This party even went so far as to run a candidate for President of the United States in 1832.  (Fortunately, the election was won by Andrew Jackson who was a freemason.)  In Canada, although the impact was not so dramatic, it did cause much widespread concern. The official history of our Lodge makes the following comment:

During this period great excitement prevailed throughout the country owing to the alleged abduction and murder of a member of the craft, named Morgan, in the State of New York, who is said to have contemplated the publication of a book containing an exposure of the secrets and mysteries of Masonry.  Very little credence was placed in the story by intelligent persons at the time but a popular prejudice was conceived against the fraternity by the people in general , and on this account the lodge meetings were not held as regularly as formerly, greater secrecy being observed and little record kept.  In fact, there is no record whatsoever of our lodge meeting from November 1826 until December 1829 although it is likely that our brethren did meet secretly during that three year period at the house of Brother George Ridout who was an enthusiastic mason (he was the first candidate initiated into our lodge and, as such, is number 12 on the membership register ).  In addition to the large scale anti-masonic sentiments which existed throughout North America in the 1820’s and 1830’s, other factors also developed which had an adverse impact on Masonic activity in Upper Canada.  Upper Canada in the 1830’s suffered economically as a result of intense competition from the thriving United States. The new Erie Canal drained off trade from the St. Lawrence River and the new American West beckoned many a Canadian farmer.  To make matters worse, the wave of immigration in the early 1830 ‘s brought with it a wave of disease.  Indeed, our history reveals that in the early 1830’s, on many occasions, our lodge did not meet because cholera was rampant in the Toronto community.  Politically, there was growing agitation for a more responsible (democratic) structure in government.  All of this unrest came to a head with the Rebellion of Upper Canada in 1837 led by William Lyon Mackenzie.  The rebellion was put down by Colonel James Fitzgibbon, our famous lodge brother and the Hero of Beaver Dams during the War of 1812.  Fitzgibbon led a band of militia against the rebels and several shots were fired outside of Montgomery’s tavern (which was located just north of what is today the intersections of Yonge St. and Eglinton Ave.)  Mackenzie fled to the United States and Fitzgibbon returned to Toronto where he continued to be admired by the citizens and ignored by the Lieutenant-Governor.  The low point in masonry was reached by the end of the 1830’s.  In June 1840, Simon McGillivray, the Provincial Grand Master of the Second Provincial Grand Lodge, died.  The Provincial Grand Lodge had not met since 1829 when 26 lodges had been registered.  By 1840, less than a dozen were still working of which St. Andrew’s was most certainly one.  Yet our history shows no record of any official meetings from 1835 to 1840.  However, on the 28th of January 1840, our lodge met under the gavel of Worshipful Brother Thomas Carfrae assisted by Worshipful Brother Bernard Turquand who acted as senior warden.  (Turquand you may recall was our first secretary and it is his beautiful handwriting that we see on our 1822 dispensation) Worshipful Brother Turquand proposed the following motion:  “That the brethren present felt it their duty, in order that the principles of our ancient and honourable institution may be more generally diffused, to re-organize St. Andrew’s Lodge No. 1, and that the present moment is extremely auspicious for that object.”

And so it appeared that the troubled years of the 1820’s and 1830’s were over. The brethren of St. Andrew’s had renewed their pledge to continue their masonic endeavours with vigour and fortitude.  It was just as well, for the challenges of the 1840’s and 1850’s would once again put St. Andrew’s in the forefront of masonic history as the struggle began to create, once and for all, a Grand Lodge which would truly provide leadership for Ontario’s masons.  Many St. Andrew’s members have wondered how St. Andrew’s No. 1 became St. Andrew’s No. 16. We have now come to that part in the tracing of our history when this question at last can be addressed. Before beginning however, the following points should be emphasized.

In the early years of speculative masonry, the numbering of lodges was of less importance and received less emphasis than it does today.  Certain lodges would be warranted under a Grand Lodge authority, work for a certain period, then fall dormant only to once again petition for a dispensation and receive a different number.  Other Lodges would switch their Grand Lodge affiliation and therefore would receive a new number.  In addition, certain lodges worked under the authority of two Grand Lodges and held two numbers.  This in fact was the case with St. Andrew’s Lodge.  When it was formed in 1822 it became No. 1 on the register of the Second Provincial Grand Lodge of Upper Canada as well as No. 754 on the English Register.  As a colonial lodge, our lodge worked through the Provincial Grand Lodge which held its authority from the United Grand Lodge of England.  (In 1832, the English Lodge renumbered and we became No. 487 on the English Register while retaining No. 1 on the Provincial register.)  Obviously, the whole matter of numbering lodges was quite complex.  Following the Morgan affair and the political and economic troubles in Canada in the 1830’s, masonry began to flourish in the 1840’s.  A certain political stability had occurred with the Act of Union in 1840 uniting Canada East and Canada West.  Toronto grew in size and prosperity and St. Andrew’s Lodge grew with it.  On January 28, 1840 a reorganization of our lodge took place.  The By-laws were reviewed and revised and 300 copies were published.  During the year 1840, 46 men were either initiated into, or affiliated with, St. Andrew’s.  Many of them were prominent citizens of the Toronto community.  This growth in the size of our lodge continued throughout the 1840’s and early 1850’s.  Yet while our lodge membership grew, the leadership at the Grand Lodge level continued to be in a state of confusion.  Simon McGillivray had died in 1840 but England had not appointed a successor.  Once more Ziba Phillips from Kingston stepped in to fill the breach.  Phillips had chaired the so-called Kingston Convention following the death of William Jarvis in 1817.  He now formed the Second Convention in 1842 following the death of Simon McGillivray.  Meanwhile Sir Allen Napier MacNab, a former speaker of the Legislative Assembly was initiated into Sir Andrew’s Lodge in December 1841.  In 1842, he visited Scotland and received authority to warrant lodges in Canada according to the Scottish Constitution.  In 1844, the Grand Lodge of England named him the new Provincial Grand Master of Upper Canada to replace McGillivray.  (In that same year of 1844 he became Speaker of the new Parliament of United Canada).  As you might guess, MacNab’s appointment was a political one.  He had no particular affection for masonry and used it largely for his own political purposes.  Because of this, the real burden of leadership fell on the shoulders of another St. Andrew’s member, Thomas Gibbs Ridout (you may recall that he was the second candidate initiated into our lodge).  Ridout served as MacNab’s Deputy Grand Master of the Third Provincial Grand Lodge throughout its entire period of existence from 1845 to 1857).  As masonry grew in size and influence during the period of the Third Provincial Grand Lodge, its relationship with the Grand Lodge of England became more strained.  It must be remembered that each lodge was required to submit annual dues to the Grand Lodge of England.  In turn, certificates were sent out directly to the lodges from England.

In addition to lodges under the Third Provincial Grand Lodge working in accordance with the English Constitution, a growing number of lodges were warranted under the Irish Register.  (This growth of Irish lodges in Canada paralleled the large scale immigration from Ireland in the 1840’s as a result of the “Potato Famine”).  As well, some lodges in Canada East were warranted by the Grand Lodge of Montreal and William Henry and others had refused to join MacNab’s Third Provincial Grand Lodge and formed a splinter group under Ziba Phillips.  Clearly, there was a great need for a central Masonic authority in Canada.  After much deliberation, in 1852, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Canada West requested that it be given “sole control over the affairs of masonry” in United Canada, including the privilege of collecting all dues from the individual lodges.  Such a blatant request would likely be taken by the Grand Lodge of England as an act of unilateral independence and so to soften the request somewhat, it was accompanied by the statement that the United Grand Lodge of England “would still retain and exercise a superior and governing power and jurisdiction over masonry in United Canada”.  In short, this was a request for a more independent position but not an act of complete independence.  No reply was received from this 1852 request.  Finally in May 1854 the Provincial Grand Secretary was instructed to write to England informing them that the Canadian Provincial Grand Lodge was still awaiting a reply.  This second piece of correspondence was also not acknowledged.  Finally on September 25, 1855 a reply was received from England.  It said little and promised less.  In any event it had been issued too late.  Certain of the more impatient and radical brethren had given up waiting for action from England, had abandoned the existing authority of the Third Provincial Grand Lodge, and had planned a meeting of all interested lodges in Hamilton for the 10th of October 1855.  The Grand Lodge of Canada was about to be born!  At the same time, masons in Ontario were engaged in debate regarding a circular which had been prepared by some of these more radical brethren in Hamilton.  In the circular, four major grievances were mentioned:

i) The frustration resulting from the diversity of allegiance and  procedure evident in Canada West as a result of the growth of lodges with different warrants from various Grand Lodges.

ii) The injustice of lodges warranted by the Grand Lodge of England being forced to contribute monies not only to the local Provincial Grand Lodge but also to the Grand Lodge of England.

iii) The inexcusable lapses of time which occurred before answers were received from England to questions, requests etc. sent from Canada.

iv) The appointment of the Provincial Grand Master not by the Canadian brethren but rather by the Grand Lodge of England without any consultation with the fraternity in Canada.

These grievances were indeed legitimate as we have already seen.  As a result many lodges saw the need to take immediate and unilateral action.  Their move to radical action was accelerated when the conservative Provincial Grand Lodge met in Niagara Falls in July 1855 and defeated a motion put forth by the independence group to hold a meeting of the delegates from all the lodges in the province……” to take the necessary steps for communicating with the Grand Lodge of Great Britain and Ireland for the purpose of forming an independent Grand Lodge.”

The defeat of this motion however, did not end the matter.  The supporters of independence agreed to meet together on Wednesday, October 10, 1855.  The location of the meeting was to be The Barton Lodge room in Hamilton.

A notice of this meeting in Hamilton was sent to all lodges in Canada West (65) and Canada East (18). Of the eighty-three lodges in both Canadas , 66 were on the English register, 15 were warranted from the Grand Lodge of Ireland and 2 (in Canada East) were under the Scottish constitution.

At the meeting of our own lodge held on September 11, 1855 a letter was read from the independence group requesting that members of St. Andrew’ s Lodge be represented at the October 10 meeting in Hamilton.  After some discussion the following motion was put to the St. Andrew’s brethren:

That we acknowledge the receipt of Bro. Harris’ communication relative to the establishing of an Independent Grand Lodge for Canada but beg to inform him that St. Andrew’s Lodge declines on constitutional grounds taking any part in the proceedings at the contemplated meeting.  St. Andrew’s Lodge had resolved to remain loyal to the Grand Lodge of England.  St. Andrew’s was not alone in its decision to ignore the Hamilton convention.  Of the 83 lodges, only 41 sent representatives to the October 10 meeting.  Nonetheless, the representatives who did attend passed this historic declaration:

That we, the representatives of regularly warranted lodges here in convention assembled – Resolve: That the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Canada, be, and is hereby formed upon the ancient charges and constitution of Masonry.

At a subsequent meeting on November 2, 1855 the new Grand Lodge of Canada was formally constituted and consecrated and its officers invested by the Grand Master of the state of Michigan.

William Mercer Wilson was installed as the first Grand Master.  A few days later on November 13, 1855 St. Andrew’s Lodge once again showed its loyalty to the Grand Lodge of England.  At this meeting, our Worshipful Master Worshipful Brother William M. Jamieson directed that the minutes of the recent Provincial Grand Lodge meeting be read aloud and stated:

that it was his duty as Master of St. Andrew’s Lodge to acknowledge the Provincial Grand Lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of England, and to direct all brethren visiting this lodge and acknowledging the Independent Grand Lodge of Canada to retire.

Several brethren immediately did so.  It should be pointed out that the reluctance to participate in the formation of the new Grand Lodge of Canada by the St. Andrew’s brethren came about not because they did not sympathize with the views of their rebelling brethren but rather because St. Andrew’s Lodge was the senior and keystone lodge in matters relating to the Provincial Grand Lodge and therefore objected to the Hamilton convention on constitutional and legal grounds.  This is evident since the lodges of the old Provincial Grand Lodge, while ignoring the new self-styled Grand Lodge of Canada, continued to request from England that they be allowed constitutionally to form a Canadian Grand Lodge.  Still, England refused to grant permission.  Finally even the most loyal brethren reached the end of their patience.  In September, 1857, the old Provincial Grand Lodge met for the last time.  The Grand Master Sir Allan Napier MacNab

requested that all the lodges remaining loyal to the Provincial Grand Lodge, surrender their English Warrants and proclaimed an independent Grand Lodge to be known as “The Ancient Grand Lodge of Canada”.  Now we had two independent Grand Lodges operating separately in Canada.  MacNab’ s Ancient Grand Lodge of Canada was to be short-lived.  Early in 1858 the two Grand Lodges began to discuss articles of union.  These articles of union were submitted and approved at separate meetings of the two Grand Lodges on July 14, 1858 in Toronto.  Later that evening, MacNab and his Deputy, Right Worshipful Thomas Gibbs Ridout entered the evening session of the Grand Lodge of Canada operating under the gavel of William Mercer Wilson.  The Ancient Grand Lodge of Canada was declared dissolved by MacNab and William Mercer Wilson responded with:

May the links thus united, never be broken.”  St. Andrew’s Lodge and the other lodges who had refused to recognize the Hamilton convention of 1855 now joined one united Grand Lodge of Canada.

Nothing remains but to clear up the confusion of the numbering!  When the two Grand Lodges were united, it was obvious that something would have to be done about the numbering.  Consequently in 1859, the 63 lodges of the Grand Lodge of Canada and the 43 lodges of the now defunct Ancient Grand Lodge (of which St. Andrew’s was one) were combined to create a new register.  Position on the new register went according to seniority as established by historical record.  Thus St. Andrew’s Lodge lost its position as No. l. – a position which it held according to its prominence rather than its age.  The distinction of being the oldest warranted lodge went to Prevost Lodge which had been warranted back in 1793 by the Grand Lodge of Montreal and William Henry.  St. Andrew’s was placed after St. George’s Lodge of St. Catharines (No. 15 – warranted on June 1 , 1816) and St. John’s Lodge in Coburg (No. 17 – warranted September 23, 1822 –  19 days after the original St. Andrew’s petition for dispensation.  Thus, St. Andrew’s Lodge was assigned the number 16 on the register of the new Grand Lodge of Canada when it was published in 1859.

St. Andrew’ s Lodge No. 1 which had played a distinguished and central role in the development of the Canadian masonic tradition in particular and the Toronto community in general was succeeded by St. Andrew’s No. 16 on the Grand Register of Canada.  A new era in our lodge’s history had begun!

The above was originally given as a series of Masonic Education lectures throughout the 1984 Masonic year by W. Bro. Tom Coulston on the request of the Worshipful Master, Worshipful Bro. Bruce Carson and was intended to honour the 150th anniversary of the incorporation of the city of Toronto and the 200th anniversary of the founding of the province of Ontario.

(Revised October 1994)