Grand Lodge of Manitoba

Freemasonry in Manitoba can be traced back as far as 1813.

Grand Lodge of Manitoba

Representatives of three Lodges decided to accept the responsibility of forming the Grand Lodge of Manitoba on May 12, 1875. The three Lodges were renumbered, as follows: Prince Rupert's No. 1; Lisgar No. 2; Ancient Landmark No. 3. The jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Manitoba besides Manitoba, included the North-West Territories, afterwards known as Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Yukon. There were only three lodges within the wide jurisdiction assumed by the young Grand Lodge and the combined membership was less than 200. Four brethren organized the Grand Lodge of Manitoba, William C. Clarke (First Grand Master in Manitoba), who had been initiated in True Briton Lodge No. 14, Perth, Ontario; William N. Kennedy (First Deputy Grand Master in Manitoba), who had been initiated in Corinthian Lodge No. 101, Peterborough, Ontario, James Henderson, who had been initiated in Zetland Lodge No. 21 and John H. Bell, a native of London, Ontario who had been initiated in St. John’s Lodge No. 20, London, Ontario.

A dispensation was issued to John’s Lodge No. 4 on July 7, 1875. St. John’s Lodge was given dispensation due to many unaffiliated brethren hailing from the Maritime Provinces, from Western Ontario and the United States who desired to do their ceremonies in York Rite. August 17 hailed the first cornerstone lied in Manitoba of the old City Hall and Market building.

In 1878 the 2nd Grand Lodge of Manitoba was formed. The trouble developed over which ritual would be authorized, the Canadian work as practiced in Ontario, or the "American Work" or commonly known as York Rite. Masons in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, North-West Territories wanted a dispensation to form Kinistino Lodge but the existence of two Grand Lodges in Manitoba, the nearest Grand Jurisdiction, causing doubt. they applied to the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario. The first meeting of this lodge was held on Friday, 3 October 1879, the first Worshipful Master being Chas. F. Young. Kinistino Lodge was numbered 381 on the Grand Registry of Canada. In 1882 arrangements were made with the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario to transfer Kinistino Lodge to Grand Lodge of Manitoba, becoming Kinistino Lodge became No. 16. Later becoming Kinistino Lodge No. 1 under the Grand Lodge of Saskatchewan

In 1880 M. W. Bro. Rev. Canon S. P. Matheson was elected Grand Master of the original Grand Lodge of Manitoba. After four months of being Grand Master permitted the use of the two rituals in the jurisdiction, and allowing the lodges the option of choice.

The first Lodge to receive dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Manitoba outside of its geographical borders was Saskatchewan Lodge No. 17 in Edmonton, the second being Pequonga No. 22, meeting at Rat Portage, in 1882.

History of Freemasons in Manitoba

The history of freemasonry in Manitoba began with Charles Curtis, a blacksmith, being crowned "The Father of Manitoba Masonry", was the first Master Mason to reside in Manitoba. He was initiated July 31, 1855; Passed 14 September; Raised 12 October; in Collins Lodge, No. 215, meeting at Bryan, Ohio. He demitted from his Mother Lodge, 28 August 1857. Between the latter date and the date of his wedding in 1859, in St. James Church, Manitoba, he had taken up permanent residence at Sturgeon Creek.

In 1861 Sir John Christian Schultz, who was later a Manitoba politician, part-owner of the Nor'Wester newspaper, and a bitter opponent of the Hudson's Bay Company moved to the Red River Colony.

A third brother in the person of Matthew Connor was also at Red River.

In the summer of 1863, Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry, Minnesota Volunteers, was organized and sent to the International border and located at Pembina in Dakota Territory to assist in the Dakota War of 1862 who had been in revolt. Among the troops were a number of Freemasons and under the leadership of C. W. Nash, who became the Worshipful Master, a dispensation was obtained from the Grand Lodge of Minnesota to open Northern Light Lodge at Pembina. Worshipful Master C. W. Nash writes:

“The prayer of the petition was granted; the Grand Master remarking that by this step the brethren of Fort Garry would be able to secure, what for long time had been their desire. That it would open the door to those who were worthy and well qualified. That it was hoped and expected that there would be a sufficient number apply for the degrees who were permanent residents of Fort Garry and vicinity to warrant the planting of a Lodge there, whenever the troops were moved away. If this should be the case the brethren upon a proper petition were to have a petition issued.”

In January 1864, using the officer quarters, the original Northern Light Lodge held its inaugural meeting with John C. Schultz occuping the Junior Deacon’s chair. The Secretary of the Lodge, William Coldwell, a recent arrival from Ireland and the editor for Red River’s first paper The Nor’Wester [ ['Wester%20(1859) Nor'Wester December 28, 1859 - November 23, 1869] ] writes:

“A party from this Settlement proceeded to Pembina a few weeks since to join the Masonic Order, through the Lodge established there. They took the necessary degrees to qualify them to open a Lodge here, which it is their intention to do on receipt of a dispensation from the Grand Lodge, application for which has already been made.

We will be glad to see Masonry fully established in our midst, for in its organization and teachings it is admirably adapted to do good in every community, irrespective of class, creed or nationality. It has its secrets — the secrets of ages — and what others have been so well kept?

Pretended revelations have been made by those who know the public was always eager to find out a secret, and would be willing to pay well to satisfy its curiosity; but they knew little, for the working of the order is as much a mystery to outsiders now as it was in the far distant past from whence it dates its origin."

Lower Fort Garry, ca.1949Four new members received all three degrees at the one meeting, a procedure was not uncommon a century ago, were Andrew Graham Ballenden Bannatyne, a prominent businessmen and a later supporter of Louis Riel, William Inkster, a Public Surveyor, William Benjamin “Billy ” Hall, an excellent nurseryman and farmer, Robert Morgan and William Coldwell.

A petition was drawn up on April 27, 1864 to the Grand Lodge of Minnesota:

“The undersigned petitioners being Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, having the prosperity of the fraternity at heart, and willing to exert their best endeavours to promote and diffuse the genuine principles of Masonry, respectfully represent that they are desirous of forming a new Lodge in the Red River Settlement, Rupert's Land, to be named Northern Light Lodge; they further pray for letters of dispensation, or a warrant of constitution, to empower them to assemble as a legal lodge to discharge the duties of Masonry in a regular and constitutional manner, according to the original forms of the order, and the regulations of the Grand Lodge.

They have nominated and recommend Brother John Schultz, to be the first Master, Andrew G. B. Bannatyne, to be the first Senior Warden, and William Inkster, to be the first Junior Warden of said Lodge.

If the prayer of the petition is granted, they promise a strict conformity to the constitution, laws and regulations, of the Grand Lodge.

Andrew G. B. Bannatyne, William Inkster, Charles Curtis, W. B. Hall, Robert Morgan, William Coldwell, John Schultz, Matthew ConnorAssiniboia, British America, 27 April 1864."

On May 8, 1864, the soldiers were moved to Fort Abercrombie, and all the papers, records, petitions and documents along with the dispensation were returned to the Grand Lodge of Minnesota.

On May 20, 1864, the dispensation was issued at St. Paul, Minnesota, under Grand Master A.T.C. Pierson with the response:

“During the year, I renewed the dispensation of Northern Light Lodge removing it to the Red River Settlement.”

The first meeting of the newly inaugural Northern Light Lodge was held in the lodge room over the store of Andrew G. B. Bannatyne on November 8, 1864.

Between the years of 1868 and 1870, Norther Light Lodge ceases all activity due in part to the Red River Rebellion.

Red River Rebellion

Schultz was initially on good terms with Red River's Francophone community, but his unscrupulous business practices soon made him unpopular with most established settlers, anglophone and Francophone alike. By 1869, he had emerged as the leader of a small, ultra-Protestant organization known as the Canadian Party. This group promoted the annexation of Red River by the Canadian government, and encouraged new anglophone/Protestant immigration from Ontario. Schultz and his followers were actively engaged in land speculation, and were viewed with extreme suspicion by most of Red River's Métis community.

During the Red River Rebellion of 1869 –1870, [John Schultz emerged as one of the leading opponents of Louis Riel's provisional government (which was supported by most of the area's population). Schultz's followers engaged in a number of military skirmishes with the Riel government, and Schultz was forced to leave the region in February 1870. He arrived in Toronto in April.

Schultz made several speeches against the Riel government during his time in Toronto, and played a significant role in swaying Protestant opinion against the Métis leader. He frequently referred to Thomas Scott (an Ontario Orangeman executed by the Riel government for treason) as a Protestant hero, and called upon Ontario's Orangemen to avenge his death (both Schultz and Macdonald were also Orangemen, as were most of the Ontairio militiamen).

Schultz returned to Red River (now renamed Manitoba) in September, after the Canadian government had taken the area with militia units from Ontario. These Ontario soldiers frequently engaged in violence against the Métis population; there can be little doubt that Schultz approved of and encouraged their actions.

The newly-established government of Manitoba sought conciliation among the province's ethnic, religious and linguistic factions, and generally regarded Schultz as a disruptive force. Lieutenant-Governor Adams George Archibald hated Schultz, and refused to consider him when constructing his first administration. In Manitoba's first provincial election (December 30, 1870), Schultz's Canadian Party was the only real opposition to the governing alliance. His followers won four seats (one of which was overturned on appeal), and were responsible for the death of at least one aborginal government supporter. Schultz himself was defeated by Hudson's Bay Company spokesman Donald A. Smith in the riding of Winnipeg and St. John, 70 votes to 63. There was a riot among the Ontario militiamen when the result was announced.

The Canadian Party continued as a parliamentary force after this defeat. At one stage, Archibald warned Prime Minister John A. Macdonald that they were promoting the "extermination" of the Métis.

In 1868, Andrew G. B. Bannatyne became a member of the Council of Assiniboia and, in 1869, was a member of the Provisional Government of Louis Riel. Trouble had developed in the Settlement over the transfer of the territory and it is evident the members quietly decided to suspend activities and as a result the Lodge never met again. Masonry had, however, been introduced in the West.

Province of Manitoba

When Rupert's Land was ceded to Canada in 1869 and incorporated into the North-West Territories, a lack of attention to Métis concerns led their elected leader Louis Riel to establish a provisional government as part of the Red River Rebellion. Negotiations between the provisional government and the Canadian government resulted in the creation of the Province of Manitoba and its entry into Confederation in 1870. However, Louis Riel was pursued by Garnet Wolseley because of the rebellion, and he fled into exile. The Metis were blocked by the Canadian government in their attempts to obtain land promised to them as part of Manitoba's entry into confederation.

Wolseley Expedition and the first Lodge

The troops, under Garnet Wolseley, left Collingwood, Ontario, on 21 May 1870 and reached Fort Garry on 24 August 1870. Wolseley successfully commanded the Red River expedition to establish Canadian sovereignty over the North-West Territories and Manitoba. Manitoba had entered Canadian Confederation as the result of negotiations between Canada and a provisional Métis government headed by Louis Riel. Nine Freemasons from among the troops of the Wolseley Expedition applied to the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario for Dispensation to form a lodge to be known as Winnipeg Lodge to meet at Fort Garry, later to be renamed Prince Rupert's Lodge No. 240 under the registry of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario. The public announcement was printed in the The Weekly Manitoban, February 4, 1871:

"It is noticeable that a new Masonic Lodge, named the Prince Rupert's Lodge, has been opened here, under dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Canada, with most favorable and encouraging auspices, so that before very long, the fair Manitobans will enjoy the same privileges accorded to their Ottawa sisters, and become participants of the hospitality of the Craft, and that the Province at large may benefit in some future day by manifestations of that charity and brotherly love which Masonry, by its precepts, endeavors to instill into the hearts of the brethren of the Mystic Tie."

The names on the Charter are Chaplain Robert Stewart Patterson (Worshipful Master), Lieutenant William N. Kennedy (Senior Warden), Sergeant-Major Matthew Coyne (Junior Warden), Quartermaster E. Armstrong, Lieutenant D. M. Walker, Surgeon A. R. McDonald, Paymaster James T. B. Morrice, Henry T. Champion was also connected with the Forces, Norman J. Dingman who received his military discharge and had returned to Eastern Canada before the Dispensation reached Fort Garry. The first meeting of "Winnipeg Lodge" was held on December 10, 1870. Worshipful Master, R. Stewart Paterson returned to Ontario five months after he had instituted the Lodge and never came back to Winnipeg.

The "Manitoba" Lodge under dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario, met for the first time at Lower Fort Garry on February 20, 1871, later changing its name to Lisgar Lodge No. 244, Grand Registry of Canada.

The boom of settlers and the enthusiasm of Freemasonry in Manitoba made it possible to open a new Lodge on December 9, 1872, Ancient Landmark Lodge was instituted and in due course a charter was issued and the lodge numbered 288 on the Register of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario. On November 8, 1873, Winnipeg was incorporated as a city.

External links

[ Grand Lodge of Manitoba]


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